Something seems a bit sad and wonky about a paragraph like this, too:
Which may be one reason that many of these tech-friendly women are working their pumps so hard. They're trying to break down stereotypes by being as proud of their sexuality as they are of their geekiness. "Just because I get dressed up Saturday night, that doesn't mean I won't do better [than a guy] on a test on Monday," says Nerd Girl Sanchez. Turning geek into chic isn't always easy. It took Google's Spertus, who is 39, years before she could proclaim herself girl and geek in the same breath. But it happened when she won the award for "Sexiest Geek Alive," a now annual pageant that began in 2000 as a spoof of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive." Spertus beat out the men in her competition, and at her crowning, she paraded onstage in a corset made out of a circuit board and a high-slit skirt with a slide rule strapped to her leg. Still, some women worry that being too sexy could hurt them. At the San Francisco Girl Geek Dinner earlier this year, Leah Culver, 25, the developer of Pownce, a microblogging platform, described the extra efforts she's made to convince potential employers that despite being attractive, she's actually, like, competent. "I used to carry around a copy of my computer-science degree in my purse," she said. The ideal, of course, is having gender be a nonissue, and for a few, it is. "I consider myself a normal girl who happens to like math and science," Sanchez says.
It took Google's Spertus, who is 39, years before she could proclaim herself girl and geek in the same breath. Huh? What? So she had to prove herself hot before she could claim to be a girl? This is just so sad on so many levels.
This makes me even sadder, although the liberal arts side of me is cruelly thinking, wow, glad I didn't go into engineering (Which, yes, is at odds with my righteous indignity, but what can I say? I'm complicated.):
Forty years ago women made up just 3 percent of science and engineering jobs; now they make up about 20 percent. That sounds promising, until you consider that women earn 56 percent of the degrees in those fields. A recent Center for Work-Life Policy study found that 52 percent of women leave those jobs, with 63 percent saying they experienced workplace harassment and more than half believing they needed to "act like a man" in order to succeed. In the past, women dealt with that reality in two ways: some buried their femininity, while others simply gave up their techie interests to appear more feminine. "For most of my life I hid my passion for all things scientific and tried to focus on pursuits that were 'allowable'," says Cathy Malmrose, a Berkeley, Calif., mom who, at 38, is now the CEO of a computer manufacturer. "Instead of getting to play on my brother's TRS80 [computer] and study the sciences, I went into elementary education."
Why hide her passion for science? I just don't get this. I do think that the fact that the Nerd Girls are pushing the coolness of being a geek on young girls is a good thing because, based on my own experiences, sometimes the worst critics of nerdiness are other women. Yeah, guys can be cruel when you're young but I know that the worst ribbing I got growing up was from other girls who looked at me like I was the only three-eyed fish in the pond. So maybe, as sad as all these statistics and personal tales of nerd horror are, the rise of groups like this and the fact that it's in Newsweek, is a sign of good things to come.
What do you think?