Lisa at Sociological Images points out a new reality show show, The Nerd Girls:
From the website:
Nerd Girls are as complex as the codes they crack.
They are she-brains who love equations, high heels, lipgloss and gadgets…
Nerd girls dig digits and boys ask for theirs.
They are Nerd-a-licious.
“She-brains.” Get it? Because brains are a masculine trait, you have to modify it to make it make sense when used to refer to a female. From the news story:
These girl geeks aren’t social misfits; their identities don’t hinge on outsider status. They may love all things sci-tech, but first and foremost they are girls—and they’ve made that part of their appeal.
Never forget, first and foremost, girls are girls (but boys are people… that’s why we can just call them “brains”).
While I like the idea that they break the stereotype that engineers are necessarily socially-maladjusted males, I find it a bit depressing that the only way women are considered "normal" is when they are wearing lots of makeup and feminine clothing. Also the bit that says "first and foremost they are girls" really emphasizes the stereotype that being an engineer = male. Personally, I don't think wielding a soldering iron or brandishing a calculator magically adds a Y chromosome.
See also Alice at Sciencewomen on the Newsweek article, "Revenge of the Nerdette" (that's the "news article" linked above).
Are smart women (those profiled are undergrads and grad students at Tufts, huzzah!) less threatening if we call them "girls" and they show a lot of skin or wear pink high heels? I guess so - if they're challenging one gender stereotype, at least they're conforming to others. This all being said, I'm glad women feel like they can dress how they want, look "girly" and all; when I was in school (not that long ago!), it seemed to me that women tried to blend in in how they dressed rather than stand out (undergraduate engineering education is still 80% men, after all). I just challenge that now women are experiencing a simple choice for how to display themselves, and that they just happen to choose to do so in hegemonically feminine ways. Note that the photo of the women profiled portrays them as classically beautiful - light skin, long hair, wearing skirts. [...]Be sure to check out the discussion in the comments.
ETA: For a comparison, see this 1949 article about "Jackie Bates, Girl Chemist". It has the same kind of reassurances that she's "attractive" and has "male admirers".
Tags: Nerd Girls, women in engineering