As a female, we all know how hard it is to fit in as geeks. I can guess from experience most gamer girls either get insulted or hit on during online matches. I can also guess from experience that when your board game girls kill half the undead in one swing in Dungeons and Dragons or beat a long time Magic: The Gathering tournament player at a pre-release, you get looks of disbelief and sometimes anger. I have definitely been there. I also know how uncomfortable it can be to be the only girl in the room, and how obnoxious it is when the boys try to “take it easy on you.”
There’s a group of girls trying to change all that. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, the D20 Girls Project is a national nonprofit organization that is paving the way for female geeks to be, well, geeky. Founded in 2005 as The Ohio Gamers Organization, it was originally meant to be a talent agency that connected conventions with knowledgeable young women to hire as booth babes. In 2011, the talent agency broke off onto its own as Division 20, and the D20 Girls remained. The D20 Girls is now a group focused on helping girls find others who share their interests, and getting involved in the community.
I got a chance to speak with the Executive Director of the organization, GiGi Werner, to give you guys an inside look at the organization. Here’s what she had to say.
In your own words, could you describe what the D20 Girls are and what they do?
The D20 Girls Project concentrates on the community aspect of everything. They do charitable events, promotion of small businesses and other talents, support groups for their fellow nerd/geek males, females and others alike. They combat against bullying and show off more than just the exterior talents of the ladies in the organization.
What is your favorite part of being involved with the organization?
Admittedly, being the Executive Director of this organization can be stressful, but throughout the years I have stayed because of the bond I have built with the ladies in the organization. I am as proud to support them as they are to support me. I also greatly enjoy the charitable events, helping out small businesses and talents, combating against bullying and discrimination and just overall making a difference one way or another. I also really enjoy helping the other ladies find their voice, talent, strength, and just help them be proud of who they are and not afraid to try things they are interested in because it’s male dominated or out of the norm. It’s just a great feeling to help overall.
If you could accomplish one thing through the organization, what would it be?
It’s truly difficult to choose one thing. I suppose my biggest goal is to build an organization or mindset that spans nationwide (and maybe one day internationally as well), that we are all human, it does not matter what gender or race we are. We are all talented, we all have a right to like things no matter our gender or race, and we should all give a little more, support each other, and just be decent human beings. This is something that should be taught to all ages. The D20 Girls is very much a family friendly and family oriented organization. I am a mother, there are many mothers and aunts and sisters in this organization and I know we all strive to teach our younger generation these values.
Where do you see the organization going in the near future?
We have come a long way and there are still kinks to work out but I believe this organization can and will go far. We are working hard at trying to create more community involvement within both the nerdy and local communities. We are researching how to get education initiative programs going for our younger members. We provide various outlets for our ladies to gain experience in the work world via our magazine, graphic designs, and more. We are trying to expand what other options they have to work with. The sky’s the limit, and I believe that with the talented and kind-hearted ladies in our organization, the D20 Girls will become something that people are happy to talk about and support.
What would you say to girls who think they might want to be a part of the organization?
I would tell them that if they are looking for a welcoming community of ladies like themselves, the opportunity to showcase their talents in a positive way, get their feet in the door of the nerd/geek industries, and wish to make a positive impact on this world, then the D20 Girls is the place for them.
As a member of the D20 Girls myself, I can say it’s a wonderful organization to be a part of. It has guided me towards being a writer, and I’ve been able to immerse myself in hobbies I love. I’ve met many talented, wonderful women who have helped inspire me to be the person I want to be, instead of just a mother or wife. If you think that sounds like something you want to be a part of, you can find them on Facebook. From there they can help you get in contact with your state manager, and you can put in an application.