October 21, 2008

Nerd Girls.

Category: Geekitude,Gender — Biella @ 10:30 am

I am all for models and examples, and well, Nerd Girls, is such a web portal meant to celebrate “smart-girl individuality thatís revolutionizing our future.” And they “want to encourage other girls to change their world through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, while embracing their feminine power.” That message is all good and fine but the profile page is just a little too homogeneous and “made up” and actually just looks fake as fake can be (and what is UP with those dumb glasses they are all wearing?!). Sorry to say this, but all those “chics” look like they are fake nerds and are really models for Seventeen magazine or soft-porn movies. Is Nerd Girls a joke? Or is it real and just not for Ugly (or regularly looking) Nerd Girls?

[h0mee] lol
[h0mee] actually what it really reminds me of
[h0mee] are those inspirational posters you see in high school meant to inspire students to study harder
[biella] like this one

update again (sorry, the comments on my irc channel are just too good to ignore:

[Atala] lol one of my friends just said the site seems like a thought experiment on what would happen if MTV bought Bitch magazine.


  1. from that site:
    Q. How does the Nerd Girls brand make money?

    A. Nerd Girls has many projects in the works and we are currently casting a reality TV show. The Nerd Girls have built a solar-powered car and plan to put together a racing team that will be the subject of a feature documentary. We also have a nonprofit branch for mentoring and community outreach.

    Comment by quitte — October 21, 2008 @ 10:54 am

  2. it is DEFINITELY real. unfortunately the “real engineering” hasn’t been properly promoted for yet…many things are in the works and only time will allow for the release of the proper image in order to sort our misconceptions…but i can tell you that the page – though it may look like a “seventeen magazine” ad is definitely full of real engineers, with real degrees who are doing admirable work in engineering. they just want to get the word out there that you CAN have it all and you CAN be attractive and that CAN be proud to be a female in engineering. all in all Nerd Girls is all about breaking the bad stereotypes and shedding some positive light on it all. clearly…i’m a big fan, and really see the great positive way this whole movement can have on the younger female minds :)

    Comment by ddeevaa — October 21, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

  3. Again, I am all for 1) getting more grrls on board 2) breaking stereotypes and so I find the intentions of the project laudable. But I think in order to be effective, and in fact, avoid being offensive to some people, the project must also actually reflect the diversity of women who do participate in this world.

    And yes, they are there and they are young and old, cool and nerdy, white and brown and I can go on and on. The images on the site are so strikingly homogeneous (white, chic, SKINNY girls, who *do* look like models for Forever 21 or something of that nature and come on, what is up with those fake nerd glasses ?!) that a lot of nerdy girls won’t identify with that one image either. You risk alienating folks as well and thus may undermine the project.

    Another way of putting it also is that there is more than one way of being feminine as well. It is not just about advocating/projecting feminitty or denying it but being well, smart about how we understand femininity! The representations on the website are crude, one-dimensional, and stereotypical in their own right.

    Why not include a variety of images and pictures as opposed to a totally glossy uber-branded look. This is not only a more realistic presentation of what is out there but you also have more of a chance to attract more types of women, not just the girls who are smart and “look good.”

    Again, I am sympathetic with the project and agree that one need not relinquish the feminine to be geeky but I also find the

    Comment by Biella — October 21, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  4. It looks rather phoney, but suspect it isn’t. Rather, they are trying to do the “smart *and* sexy” via professionally produced content and images that employ certain nerd tropes like wearing glasses.

    Granted why must one even be “*and* sexy”…?

    Though if one does go down that road I am intrigued by the idea of nerd authenticity. (I can go on about the “Beauty and the Geek” TV show and this theme for quite some time!) When I was at MIT in the late ’90s and early ’00s there was real online nerd erotica, some produced on campus which was rather controversial. A related Boston site attempting to be authenticly nerdy, sexy, and female friendly was NakkidNerds.com

    Comment by Joseph Reagle — October 21, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

  5. It would be nice before judging the nerd girls to take a look at the great things they have done to improve the lives of individuals, the community and the environment. This year they saved a national historic landmark using renewable energy. There work can be seen at nerdgirls.org
    Thank you.

    Comment by Karen — October 21, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  6. Karen,

    I find the site/project laudable and even said so in my post and my comment. And by all means, I am glad the project is doing good work. But it seems to me that one of the main purposes of the site is to repurpose and redefine the image of the geek girl. And again, I think it is great and important to knock down the stereotype of the nerd/girl/boy as an unattractive “luser” but to erect another shallow image in its place: well that is not my game and I think there are better ways of going about it.

    Comment by Biella — October 21, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  7. This site teaches women that it is ok to be smart, but it is not ok to be ugly.

    Comment by Rex — October 21, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  8. Its great that this site wants to tell girls that its ok to be smart, but its annoying how they are portraying themselves as “we are hot, but pretending to be ugly women nerds… but really we are just hot
    making fun of ugly nerd girls”. This feels like highschool to me.

    Deliberately obvious attempts to nerd themselves out, but in a glamorous way (dorky glasses, fake messed up hair) is just making fun of nerds. Not actually needing a pocket protector, but wearing it as a fashion accessory to nerdinista is making fun of people who choose those things honestly. its like pretending to be poor for halloween or something buy buying a $80 poor-person costume

    Comment by mooshu pork — October 21, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  9. I agree whole-heartedly. The whole thing reeks of fake. I think the previous commenter really hit the nail on the head: they’re using elements of nerd “fashion” (or rather an outdated stereotype thereof) as their own trendy fashion statement. This is something that has bugged me for a while now. When people talk about “nerd chic” and the like, this is precisely what I think of. The photos on that site look like a bunch of “cool” people who dressed up as nerds for Halloween. I personally find it insulting. The first profile on the profiles page gives it away: she says she “can’t wait” to be able to buy some upscale fashion crap with silly names like “Jimmy Choo”. Yeah, I’m sure nerds everywhere can relate to that.

    Comment by Alex — October 21, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

  10. Could you please write a post with a review of a selection of such sites that you regard as good?

    I would like to recommend some web sites to a 13yo female relative, I can’t recommend that NerdGirls site.

    Comment by Russell Coker — October 21, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  11. http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2007/07/09/story9.html

    Comment by gus — October 22, 2008 @ 2:25 am

  12. [...] mouse, not a chipmunk!” Also, for those that may not know, here is Nerd Girls, which I have written about in the past and really deserves to be part of this [...]

    Pingback by Interprete » Geek girl list — December 11, 2008 @ 6:44 am

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