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She's Such a Geek: You Gotta Read It

FairerScience friend Annalee Newitz has a new book She's Such a Geek: Women Write About, Science Technology and Other Nerdy Stuff . It's really good. Describing it to a group involved in broadening participation in computing, I sounded like a 1950's movie trailer "I laughed, I cried, I thought." (Oh wait that last one is rarely part of a movie trailer). And I did all three.

I got a little worried reading the first essay-- thinking "ah I've heard this story so often" but as I continued to read--wow. Even the titles are great. I especially liked "suzy the computer versus dr.sexy" by Zuska (aka Suzanne Frank). And even though I'm not a gamer, or maybe because of that, I found the games section fascinating.

When people ask me about encouraging girls in science and engineering I've already started quoting Nina Simone Dudnik.

"And then there was the high school physics teacher who made a big show of encouraging the girls in our advanced placement class. If he really believed we were just as good as the boys, would he have made such grandiose gestures of praise?... One by one girls dropped out of that physics class. I couldn't help noticing that many of them stuck around for AP Chemistry where the teacher made no mention of anyone's gender in the lab."

The sad part is so many of the women faced such strong resistance they left their professions; but even those who left are claiming, or in some cases reclaiming, their "geekiness" as a powerful force. The women who are no longer "professional geeks" remain personal geeks.

That started me thinking about differences between personal and professional identify and about what that might mean for strategies for FairerScience. It certainly lends support to the idea that we should stop trying to change women, and focus instead on changing environments that cause so many cool women to leave.

PS Not only is there a book, there is a blog.