Geek girl

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This article is about the gendered subgenre. For the novel by Holly Smale, see Geek Girl (novel).

"Geek girl" is a 20th-century term, signifying a gendered subgenre within the modern geek subculture.


The return of the word "geek" in the mid-1990s can be traced to the popularization of workplace computing and the Internet and the dot-com bubble of 1995–2000. The early days of the reclaimed use of "geek" were strongly associated with computers and information technology[1] and the majority of practitioners were male.[2] Similarly, in a 1996 study of high school cultures, linguist Mary Bucholtz noted that "nerd status is overwhelmingly associated with males"[3] Two studies by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) quantified the gap between men and women in computing and the continuing problems recruiting and retaining female programmers.[4][5]

The term "Geekgirl" was coined by Rosie Cross in 1993 as the title of her online cyberfeminist magazine.[6] This is Australia's longest running online publication and in September 1996 it was exhibited at the New Museum of Contemporary Art New York. Editions of this magazine from the mid 90's have been preserved by the Internet Archive.[7] As the use of the personal computer grew during the mid-to-late 2000s, the number of women in computing rose proportionately, and networks were created to provide support and connection for self-described "geek girls". [8] was created in 1999 to serve as "the source for women in computing",[9] and in 2005 Girl Geek Dinners was formed to connect women in the information technology (IT) sector.[10]

The widespread recognition of "geek girls" as a community occurred in summer 2010, when the annual San Diego Comic-Con International included a panel entitled "Geek Girls Exist".[11] Panelists included journalist Bonnie Burton, singer-songwriter Marian Call, Tekzilla and Qore host Veronica Belmont, MythBusters featured host Kari Byron, and was hosted by Kristin Rielly, founder of Geek Girls Network. The panel's popularity[12] has been credited as a primary mover in solidifying the girl geek concept.


The term geek girl is in some ways fractured between its technical and cultural uses. The strongest association remains with computing, IT, and engineering. Practicing "geek girls" then include video game executive Jade Raymond, computer scientist and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, social media developer Leah Culver, and engineer Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries.

"Geek girl" is also a term applied to women who engage in journalism and media about technology, typically through the Internet rather than traditional print media, such as tech journalist Natali Morris. Perhaps the most well-known variety of the "geek girl" is the gamer, who typically engages in video and/or live role-playing games. In 2007, actress and gamer Felicia Day popularized the archetype through the webseries The Guild and the YouTube viral video "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar".

Recent developments[edit]

In September 2010, the geek girl group Team Unicorn was formed by four "gamer girls", who produced the YouTube video "G33k & G4m3r Girls" as a parody of the song California Gurls by Katy Perry. The video went viral within a week,[13] but the name of the group was intended to reflect the invisible status of women in the geek subculture: "Geek Girls: Like unicorns, we're not supposed to exist."

In late 2010, the Seattle-based non-profit GeekGirlCon announced that it would hold the first conference devoted to geek girls on October 8–9, 2011.[14]

In April 2011, the New York Times' television reviewer Ginia Bellefante caused a minor uproar by characterizing the medieval-fantasy series Game of Thrones as "boy fiction" that "no woman alive" would wish to watch.[15] The review prompted a direct response from GeekGirlCon,[16] as well as a flurry of discussion from bloggers and other news outlets.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "geek, n.. 1.c. "spec. A person who is extremely devoted to and knowledgeable about computers or related technology." Oxford English Dictionary:
  2. ^ Neil Feineman's Geek Chic: The Ultimate Guide to Geek Culture (ISBN 1584232056), both noted "the increasing power of women in the geek world" and, at the time of publication (1995), characterized the book's research as "an exercise in machismo. The women were hard to find" (17).
  3. ^ Bucholtz, Mary. "Geek the Girl: Language, Femininity, and Female Nerds". Gender and Belief Systems. Proceedings of the Fourth Berkeley Women and Language Conference. Ed. Natasha Warner, Jocelyn Ahlers, Leela Bilmes, Monica Oliver, Suzanne Wertheim and Melinda Chen. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. 119-131.
  4. ^ "Women in Computing: Where Are We Now?" Klawe, Maria and Nancy Leveson. Communications of the ACM - Inspiring Women in Computing Volume 38.1: 1995.
  5. ^ Klawe, Maria, Telle Whitney and Caroline Simard. "Women in Computing, Take 2" Communications of the ACM - Inspiring Women in Computing Volume 52.2: 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^*/
  8. ^ Official website, Accessed May 11th, 2011 at 10:55 am.
  9. ^ "History of GirlGeeks":
  10. ^ Geek Girl Dinners:
  11. ^ Comic-Con 2010 schedule: Accessed on May 9th, 2011 at 9:41 pm. EST.
  12. ^ "SDCC Recap: Geek Girls Exist Panel": Accessed on May 9th, 2011 at 10:01 pm. EST
  13. ^ Interview, "G33K & G4M3R GIRLS (Geek and Gamer Girls Video) 1 Week, 1 Million Views": Accessed on May 11th, 2011 at 2:10 pm. EST.
  14. ^ "Welcome to Geek Girl Con": Accessed on May 9th, 2011 at 10:34 EST.
  15. ^ Television review, "'Game of Thrones': A Fantasy World of Strange Feuding Kingdoms." Accessed on May 11th, 2011 at 9:50 am.
  16. ^ "GeekGirlCon Responds to the NY Times and Bellafante’s Review of Game of Thrones": Accessed May 11th, 2011 at 9:54 am.
  17. ^ "'NYT' Irks Geek Girls With 'Game of Thrones' Review": Retrieved May 10th, 2011 at 12:25 pm. EST.

External links[edit]