School Hosts Female Entrepreneur Panel with Tom Tom Festival
School Hosts Female Entrepreneur Panel with Tom Tom Festival

As part of the city's sixth annual Tom Tom Founder's Festival, and in association with Charlottesville Women in Tech, the School hosted a screening of She Started It on April 15 followed by a panel discussion of local female entrepreneurs.

According to the film's website, "Launched in 2013, She Started It is a feature length documentary film on women tech entrepreneurs, shot on location in Silicon Valley, NYC, Europe, Vietnam, Mississippi & more, that aims to highlight successful role models for young women. It is the first film to show the behind the scenes of running a tech start-up as a young woman."

The documentary was an official selection of the 2016 Virginia Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, and more.

"We were so lucky to be able to host this important film for the local community," said computer science instructor and Tech-Girls founder Kim Wilkens.

"It was inspiring to see the number of people who wanted to learn more about not just the film, but to hear from members of our own community who have been successful in their own businesses and ideas."

Wilkens served as moderator for the panel discussion, which included film director Nora Poggi as well as Suz Somersall '02, founder and CEO of Kira Kira, Lorraine Sanders, journalist and founder of Spirit of 608, LeiLei Secor, designer and founder of Designed by Lei, and Kim Mahan founder and CEO of MAXX Potential.

"'She started it' could be viewed as a playground taunt or a powerful proclamation," said Wilkens. "The film showcased the highs and lows of several female entrepreneurs, and unfortunately the lows were eye-opening to many about the gender dynamics at play in the male-dominated tech space. It's important that this be visible, and that budding entrepreneurs know that it's ok to take risks and try new things, and it is important to go after something you are truly passionate about."

To learn about more opportunities for girls in technology in the Charlottesville area, visit Ms. Wilken's Tech-Girls site today.