Hey ladies! Have you ever been told that something you did was “pretty good for a girl”? Have you ever been discouraged by others from taking a class or doing an activity because there were not a lot of women in it? Or maybe you’re like me, and when you were a small child you were told by a relative not to let boys know that you were smart because they wouldn’t like it. If any of what you just read pissed you off, then you need to read this book.
For Christmas, my wonderful husband (who loves me for my brain and my body) surprised me with a copy of She’s Such a Geek: Women Write About Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff. Published in 2006, it’s a collection of short essays written by nerdy women from all walks of life. They share their experiences with working in fields such as math, physics, computer technology, scientific research, and gaming.
One thing that is really interesting about this book is the wide range of experiences shared by the authors. Most of them have the shared experience of being made fun of for their intellectual gifts, but their personalities and backgrounds are so varied that each essay stands out on its own. Some of the women are married with children, others are single, some are lesbians, and one is transgender. One of the authors is physically challenged, and writes about how computers helped her manage her disability. Another author write about how her success in her field sometimes causes conflict with her traditional Indian upbringing. This is an engaging set of essays written by a varied selection of really smart women. It shows that nerdy girls come from all kinds of backgrounds, and that they can do great things when they push themselves to succeed.
For me, the best thing about this book was that despite its feminist message, this is not a man-bashing book. The authors are not a bunch of angry feminists who hate men. The connecting theme of the essays is that it’s OK for girls to be smart, and smart girls should be encouraged to succeed the same way that boys are. The book encourages us to challenge gender stereotypes and to realize that nerdy girls have just as much to offer the world as nerdy guys.
So to the smart chicks out there, if you’ve ever felt weird or embarrassed about your geekiness, check out this positive and uplifting book written by a group of women who know what it feels like to be labeled as “the smart girl.” You may just be surprised at how much you can identify with the authors’ experiences.