This is an expanded version of something I posted on facebook…
Forbes has an article this week titled, “Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away” and while I understand the reasons behind the threads of resentment running through the article, that sentiment is colossally missing the point. The author spends much of the piece obsessing over the fact that it’s so much easier today to be a geeky girl than it was when she was growing up. She sees that as a bad thing, as if the bullying and the isolation should be worn as a badge of honor and if you had it easy you don’t deserve to call yourself a geek.
Pro tip: If you spend this much time obsessing over whether someone is a real geek or not, you’re not a geek, you’re either a nerd with all of the questionable social skills that go with nerddom, or else you’re a hipster.
Aren’t we supposed to be glad that more girls are venturing into realms where women were few and far between just a few years ago? Those of us who were geeky girls when “There are no girls on the Internet” was a real thing should be glad that the paths that we, and those who went before us, forged are easier to follow for the young girls who are coming after us. It’s a good thing that we aren’t the only girl in the room anymore. If “geek” being cool means one more girl who sticks with math because she didn’t learn in middle school that girls were supposed to be bad at it, one more girl going into computer science or engineering because geeks are cool, one more girl dreaming of growing up to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, that’s something we should celebrate.
Whining because they didn’t have it as hard as we did isn’t going to do anything about the under-representation of women in STEM fields, and it’s not going to do anything about the fact that women still earn less than men doing the same jobs. Stop complaining and start encouraging those “fake geek girls” to take their interests farther. For decades people have been trying to figure out ways to get more girls interested in tech. Now that there are more girls interested in tech, instead of directing them towards techie fields, you have self-proclaimed geeks stomping on their hands as they climb the rungs of the ladder because the girls who are coming after us don’t fit our definition of “geek.” That needs to stop.
Girls being willing to call themselves geeks means we’re winning, that’s something to celebrate.