Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I prefer "geek," not "geekette"

Sciencewoman shares a few experiences with lingering sexism against women in science.

I can't help but remember my experience in preschool, where in response to my expressed interest in becoming a doctor, I was told that I "had to be a nurse" because I was a GIRL. I ended up not pursuing medicine for other reasons, but I still proudly identify as a geek through my interests in new technologies, sci-fi, and gaming, and am grateful that I had parents who bought me a microscope and chemistry set instead of the "typical girl fare".

While I am still guaranteed a large amount of (questionable) attention at any gathering of geeks, to my relief it has declined with time as more women push into scientific fields. Any wagers on how long it will be until it's no longer considered unusual for women to be geeky?

(and are there any other lady geeks out there?)


Kristien Hens said...

This is so recognizable! When I was a four year old telling my fellow 4-year olds that my mother was a doctor (as in physician), they would say 'no that's impossible, she is a nurse'.
For your other question, I think I would qualify. I like SF and have worked for 8 years as a UNIX training instructor and support engineer before switching to a carreer in biomedical ethics. I do not know how geeky the latter is though...

SabrinaW said...

It's so awesome when I meet people who come into bioethics from other science/tech fields; a lot of my college buddies were computer geeks.

I had long discussions with them back in college about what "geekiness" really entails, and we decided that while it usually refers to techie-type stuff, in general, a strong enthusiasm and whimsy about any intellectual topic ought to qualify. It just happens that females in techie fields are still seen as somewhat unusual.

So I just tell people I'm a geek to keep it simple. :)

Kseniya said...

Hi Sabrina, I saw your comment on the stem-cell thread on Pharyngulla and followed the link to this site.

The nurse-doctor gender assumptions (and barriers) are typical of the kind of stupid social conventions that drive me crazy. My grandparents were Ukrainian immigrants, and consequently I have very little love or respect for what the Soviet Union represented or accomplished, but it is true that even a generation ago your Soviet M.D. was very likely to be a woman.

Anyways, back on-topic. :-) I believe I am a stealth-geek. My appearance doesn't suggest "geek" but between the ears I am all about gadgets and monsters. I'm a psych major with a love of things like space technology, computers, science fiction and science fact, Middle Earth, Vulcans, Vampire Slayers, and knowing how to do things like read hexidecimal numbers and re-wire the pickups in an electric guitar and other neat tricks I learned from my software engineer / musician Dad.

Not coincidentally, my superheroine weakness is: "Applies makeup with all the artistry and skill of a blind penguin." But I'm ok with that. I work around that weakness. Makeup isn't my thing. I don't even have any piercings or tats. Not a one.

So, do I have the necessary qualifications?


SabrinaW said...

Hi kseniya, nice to meet you, and welcome! It's so exciting meeting other female geeks, and I too don't really "look like a geek" (in fact, I was "chastised" by a skeezy guy I met because I referred to myself as a geek; I guess I'm too outspoken and charming). I just avoid makeup whenever possible, though. ;)

I'm pretty sure there are "lady geek" societies around, but I keep forgetting to join any. Thanks for commenting!