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International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club

International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club


Interview by: Leen Isabel
Now that we've entered the age of emails and text messages, many geek girls are left with drawers full of unused, adorable stationary. Well, dust off that Sanrio letterhead and get out your glitter pens! The International Geek Girl Pen Pals club will help you put all those cute papers and stickers to good use. Learn all about their awesome pen-pal service just for geeky ladies and find out how you can participate.

1. Hello International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club! I stumbled upon your project one night and I was really excited about it! It's been a long time since I sent a handwritten letter to anyone and I've still got a drawer full of adorable & geeky stationary! Could you tell me a little about the project and what inspired it?
Hello There! Thank you for interviewing us, we love the Geek Girls Facebook fan page you run :)

International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club is the brainchild of myself (Farquharson) and Leslie Stewart aka Darling Stewie. We started the project because we both wanted pen pals again (and because DS wanted a curly wurly) and figured that if we did maybe other geeky gals would want too! Also, as self confessed stationary addicts we needed an outlet for all the Lisa Frank and Afro Ken paper we have acquired between us! We've both written blogs over the last week about it which give a more in-depth (sometimes rambling) account of how it all happened! ~Emily Farquharson: On Creating Something Out of Nothing and the Phenomenal Response to the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club Stewie: How a tweet about curly wurlies turned into an explosive internet phenomenon.

2. How do you match pen-pal partners? Is is a tedious process? What goes through your mind as you do it?
By creating what I like to call a godzilla spreadsheet. It is a process of breaking down the data, colour coordinated age groups and then we regroup age groups back together in different sheets. After that it is pairing up by the process of elimination, we try and make sure we match ladies with at least one matching love (and if not an exact match then a similar one) who are from different countries (or at the very least different States). I just go on autopilot when I am pairing, but it is fun to see what different things ladies love.~Emily

3. Why is the project only open to Geek Girls?
Truth be told, we only imagined it would be popular among a certain demographic... girls! And we were right, as 1 in 500 people who signed up were female. But guys did still try to sign up. We matched them with other boys, and that was it, but we did have someone on Twitter kind of call us out on it, and I had to take a step back and be like, WOAH, am I being sexist? I made a post about it here. I had only considered that girls might have a stationery hoarding problem, Lisa Frank envelopes, and Sanrio sticker collection, but hey, maybe some dudes do too. So we're probably just going to add a disclaimer that dudes can sign up if they really want... because 1 in 500 people who sign up are bros. We don't want anyone to feel left out who wants to join in the fun, for real. ~Leslie

4. Are they any rules for those who wish to sign up? Is it open to international readers as well?
We are open to anyone, anywhere in the world! The only rules are you must be over 13 and you must leave at least one geek interest (although the more you leave the easier it is to pair up!) We don't have any "translation" capabilities, so right now, everyone to have English speaking.~Emily & Leslie

5. Lately, geek girls have been victims of sexist remarks in the geek community. Cosplayers, gamers, comic-book fans alike. Do you feel that your project will encourage geek girls to find support and strength in each other?
We really hope so, because we could all use a little support and strength, guys and girls alike. We hit the baseline of a very important age in a girl's life, and I know when I was 13, I would have given anything for a group of girls who had the same geeky interests as me. I think a lot of the problems I've heard surrounding girls in the geek community is that some snobby elitist geek girls and some pig-headed boys are accusing girls of only pretending to be geeks so they can impress the dudes. Because, that's the only reason girls do anything, right? *rolls eyes* I am particularly troubled by this sort of judgmental tone because geeks (chicks and bros) have never thought to second guess their interests or knowledge-base, based on being validated by someone who might be more into someting, or have a bigger comic book collection, or have a longer history of cosplaying, or whatever. When did this become some kind of competition of geekiness? We all need to support each other unconditionally, and give all geeks the benefit of the doubt. I'm not going to give someone a science fiction quiz before I can accept that they are a sci-fi geek, and there's no screening process to be a geek in this community, guy or girl. So get off your high horse, elitists, and let's just hug it out.~Leslie

6. Besides letters, what sort of items do you suggest pen-pals send each other?
Some ideas we had were: Pokemon cards, a coaster from your favorite local restaurant, coins from your country, temporary tattoos, local candy, photos of local landmarks, local recipes, kawaii earrings, fun toys, geeky stickers, or photos of your cat... the possibilities are endless!~Emily & Leslie

7. Have you made new friends from the project by participating in the pen-pal service yourself? Do you have any inspiring success stories you'd like to share?
We've made thousands of new friends in 8 days, you can't beat that. We have one story in particular that tickled our heart strings. We accidentally matched 2 best friends of 15 years who had moved to different states from Round 1... the kind of friends who used to play pirates together in the park. When they emailed us, and told us that we must just be that good, by somehow matching long time friends, we just knew this was the start of something super amazing and that these connections were going to be a fantastic thing to facilitate and watch unfold. This is a post about them! This is an incredible story and we're so glad! ~Leslie

8. Where on the web can our readers sign up to participate?
Make sure to check out Facebook (International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club) to be updated. Round 3 will be starting April 15. Sign ups are at our website, - just click "Get a Pen Pal!"~Emily & Leslie

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April 02 2013

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