Over the past year, I’ve become significantly more active in the women in tech scene. It took someone else recommending that I get involved with a specific community for me to even realize I was part of the women in tech scene. I hadn’t even recognized web publishing, data journalism and social media strategy as being “tech.”
I’ve always embraced my literary and pop-culture geek side. I’ve seen every episode of every Joss Whedon show, at least three times. My first order of business upon arriving in Seoul in 2007 was finding a place where I could get a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in English. While other girls were drinking wine coolers and riding in cars to impress boys, I was voraciously reading Neil Gaiman books (a gift from my then-boyfriend, a nod to my acceptance into our school’s British Literature section for senior English).
So I’ve been thinking a lot more recently, about where these two geeks intersect: the one who loves Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland and American Gods, and the one who is passionate about battling sexism on tech teams and harassment at tech conventions.
As a starting point, here’s what I’ve come up with. Introducing The DNA of a Geek Feminist:
1. You embrace movies, books, shows that herald feminist friendly characters: strong women, smart women, women who don’t wait to be rescued by some would-be hero.
2. You fought back the last time you were harassed for being a lady geek. (related: You actively choose your Con based on its attendee harassment policy.)
3. Weak female characters in geeky fiction make you mad. Like, really mad. (I’m looking at you, Bella Swan.) And you can go on for hours critiquing how they could be stronger.
4. You’ll cheer for any ass-kicking female character, whether you’re into their fandom or not. (Long live Kaylie Frye, Hermione Granger, and Buffy Summers.)
5. You are bored with people arguing over whether or not “fake geek girls” is a thing.
6. You actively argue with people about the term and concept of “brogramming.”
7. You have to remind yourself frequently not to feed the trolls. Instead, focus on proving them wrong.
8. You not only wish for, but actively attempt to recruit, more awesome lady geeks into your chosen career space. Call it “leaning in” or whatever you like, but in general, lady geeks are good at finding each other.
To me, when you figuratively sew the “Geek Feminist” badge onto your sleeve, you sign up for a few universal truths:
1. To be an advocate for other lady geeks - whether online, in the workplace, at meetups and conventions, and so on. Don’t be a mean girl. Embrace Shine Theory.
2. To embrace your geekiness unabashedly. Geeky and Feminist are traits of strong and sexy women. Own it and be proud of it.
3. To stop hating on other lady geeks in its tracks. Dudes who want to grill you about every fact in the fandom universe, just because you’re wearing a graphic T with the logo? Show ‘em up and Shut. Them. Down.
So tell us, dear readers: what does being a geek feminist mean to you?
Post by Emma Carew Grovum. She is a data journalist working at the Chronicle of Philanthropy in Washington, D.C. She previously worked as the Digital Editor for The Cooking Club of America and blogs at kitchendreamer.blogspot.com Emma loves Star Wars, pandas and all things Joss Whedon. Find her on twitter at @emmacarew.