It’s cool to be nerdy if you’re fashionable & hot

Broadsheet linked to a Newsweek article on the Nerd Girls, a group of female engineers at Tufts. According to the article, The Nerd Girls are:

challenging the notion of what a geek should look like, either by intentionally sexing up their tech personas, or by simply finding no disconnect between their geeky pursuits and more traditionally girly interests such as fashion, makeup and high heels.

Well, it’s nice that they are trying to recruit more women into engineering, and I hope they have fun building their solar race car. (Cause, dude! Solar race car!) But damn, I think their message sucks. I don’t think nerd girls with dorky glasses are going to think, “Wow! Engineering looks fun, and I can wear 3″ pink heels to work!” I think they’re going to think, “Wow. Engineers look and act just like the popular girls at school who make fun of me, and female engineers seem to be required to be Sex in the City-type hot. And their web site lacks functionality and has no content. *click* Oooh! Ancient Roman D20 up for auction!”

The Nerd Girl message reminds me of that standard movie trope, the hot woman who eats a ton and never exercises yet magically remains thin. (e.g., the Gilmore Girls.) A Sexy Lust for Steak is supposed to demonstrate bold nonconformity while never actually not conforming (by being chubby, for example.) The Nerd Girls seem to be cut from the same cloth – the sexy fashion thing is supposed to demonstrate that they’re different from those Other Really Nerdy Ugly Girls while they still conform to societal expectations to be hot above all else. This is not a nerd revolution, it’s a permutation of “Just be yourself! Ummm…as long as yourself is perky and thin.”

Then again, maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe I should pay more attention to fashion and footwear. After days and days of pondering Vogue and watching Sex in the City, I believe that I’ve hit upon the perfect outfit. Knee-high boots, distressed jeans, fashionably draped coat – soon oceanographic fashion will TAKE PARIS BY STORM! (erm, hopefully not literally.) Can I join the Nerd Girl reality show now?


17 Responses to It’s cool to be nerdy if you’re fashionable & hot

  1. Martini-Corona says:

    This is terrible news. Relatedly, I woke up this story to this story on Erin Callan’s demotion at Lehman Brothers. The first 3 sentences or so made me *so* *angry.* Yuki Naguchi should apologize.

    I heart your outfit, and need to dig out that pic of us going to the Boston Marathon (in matching cargo shorts and ribbed tanks). You know the one.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Hotttttt!!1!!1!! The boots are sexy++

  3. Martini-Corona, before that hard-hitting business news NPR story, I didn’t even know crochet (?!) suits went with dangling gold earrings. I have learned so much. (and please dig out that pic! It is so excellent!)

    Kirsten, you know what makes my boots even hotter? They have GOLDSTEIN in big Sharpy letters on the back! TEH SEXY!

  4. jebyrnes says:

    Field Ecologist chic really needs to be the new black. I totally want to be able to walk around town in my Grundens and rubber boots. Who could resist the bright orange?

    That, and instead of ripping our jeans, we need to smear them with seagull poop! Can you imagine hipsters, comparing the different species of ejecta that are on their jeans? They’d get so snooty about it.

  5. Andrew says:

    It’s been done. My brother Benny perfected the slutty-nerd look back in middle school.

  6. eric says:

    The picture is gold!

    Grundens are so flexible…hard working, sexy, or even cute…

  7. eric says:

    er..that should be – cute.

  8. jebyrnes – Yes, it’ll be only the finest organic albatross poop. Poorer hipsters will have to settle for gull or cormorant.

    eric – The cuteness, it burns!

  9. Hisly says:

    I was all set to poo-poo and say that you’re being unfair, and then I went to their website. You are right on, and they totally suck. Hardly any of them are wearing glasses and there is a picture of the lab where ALL of them are wearing short skirts. Mmmm… plasma burn.

  10. Karen says:

    Here’s what I think is the key bit from the piece: ‘ideally, we’d convey to young women that they shouldn’t be afraid to be into science even if they aren’t holding down part-time modeling gigs, and that there’s more than one definition of what it means to be “hot.”‘

    Sadly, nerd girls is saying to young women:
    1. be hot
    2. then be whatever you want to be! w00t! aren’t we doing chirpy cartwheels on the runway!

    What if you’re not hot? Well, then I guess you can’t get away with also being a nerd.

  11. Karen says:

    p.s. on the nerd girls website it says ‘Nerd Girls is a growing movement by young women in the sci-tech fields to create a worldwide network and to offer support and encouragement so that more girls will study these subjects in school and enter into what have historically been male-dominated professions. An equally important part of the Nerd Girl mission is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about these fields and the women who choose to enter them.’

    …what, by painting it over with a different stereotype? *snorts*

  12. Carin says:

    I used to match my field gear with my earrings. No one ever noticed but me…and i felt very girly. Love the pic Miriam!!

  13. DNLee says:

    wow. I had no idea they were peddling this mess for a while.

  14. Lauren says:

    I understand your concerns. What we are TRYING to do is show girls who won’t pursue science, technology, engineering and math because the stereotypes of females in the field do not match their self image, that you CAN be yourself while saving the world through mastering these disciplines. I know the messaging needs some work, but please know that we are coming from a good place. And that we love your outfit.

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