Beauty and the Blogs

| 3/4/2008 4:00:07 PM

Computer GeeksTech-savvy men often bathe in the media limelight, from Rolling Stone and New Yorker profiles to the reality TV show Beauty and the Geek, where male nerds fraternize with plastic-looking women. Girl geeks, on the other hand, tend to receive little more media attention than the glow from their monitors. Last month, the New York Times briefly disrupted the media stagnation by reporting on the predominance of female bloggers and Web page designers. That abundance of female representation may be a positive sign, but the article also points out that women hold only 27 percent of computer- and math-related jobs . Even if girls are creating more online content, experts stress “the profound distinction between using existing software and a desire to invent new technology.”

All of the blog posts and online profiles made by women don’t amount to much, according to Nicole Cohen in Shameless magazine, so long as the creators of Web 2.0 continue to be young men like the founders of YouTube, Google, and Facebook. “Access to information and tech knowledge carries with it great political, economic and social weight,” Cohen writes. “If women are left out of the discourse about information technology and new media, you can bet we’re left out of the production and sharing of social and economic power, too.”

One of the problems with encouraging women’s participation in tech fields is the invisibility of tech-savvy women in mainstream media. Geeky guys on Beauty and the Geek and in Judd Apatow films (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Superbad) are celebrated for their nerdiness. Even if they’re not making billions of dollars, the geeky guys are visible, lovable, and have a shot at beautiful women. Meanwhile, their celebrated girl-geek counterparts are nowhere to be found.

The affirmation of IT boys has begun to irk geeky girls, many who want some acceptance—sans make-overs—of their own. In the Winter issue of Bitch (article not available online) Sarah Seltzer writes that Beauty and the Geek encourages beautiful women to “look for the inner worth of all the men around them—not just the beefcake—and value them appropriately.” Men, however, are not encouraged to do the same.

Lisa Gulya

Image by Mary-Frances Main, licensed under Creative Commons.

Mary-Frances Main
4/21/2008 5:19:32 PM

Thanks for using my picture by the way! :) I completely agree and in no area is this more obvious than gaming. It's amazing all the games that are developed for teenage boys. When women are acknowledged it's as "mommy's" not as people. We have a long way to go!

Roz Corwin
3/14/2008 8:58:04 PM

In a culture where men have dominated most of the "geeky" aspects of technology (web development, software, hardware, etc.), as well as the more primal nature of phallocentric language, it's no surprise that we've come to a point, as a society, where women are finally embracing the grassroots sphere of blogging as a way of expressing ourselves. No, we aren't frequently recognized or externally rewarded for our "unofficial" literature, but the very act of writing serves a greater function - to bring the semiotic into the public eye, thus questioning male dominance and subverting the subject. So, keep writing, Lisa! We'll keep reading. ^-^ -Roz

Katherine S. Harris_3
3/7/2008 3:24:02 AM

Back in 1945, when I graduated with a degree in Physics from Wellesley College, I got a summer job doing research on induction heating as a method for curing rubber. I think I got the job because the owner of the business knew my family. It's true that the full-time job I subsequently filled was just plotting points and drawing graphs using stress data from drop tests done by the male staff of the company. I was offered a more interesting-sounding job in another city, but my fiancé asked me to please remain at home with my parents! But that was more than 60 years ago! However, I still think there's a stigma attached to women who choose to study Math, Science, Engineering, Etc. Men should try to shed part of their traditional "protective" attitude toward the "fair sex", maybe? Seeing women as equals and giving us more problem-solving roles would be the answer, but maybe they're scared of the competition!!!!! Male/female relationships---eternally very tricky!!

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