Nerdy Girls

This isn’t exactly a revelation: I’m a nerd. And a science geek. And I like math because unlike far right extremists numbers make sense. Don’t judge…There are many of us, and we’re roaming freely among you.

We’re the women who watched reruns of the original Star Trek (live long and prosper!) and Battlestar Galactica when we were young girls. We were curious about other life forms, and we stared in amazement as we wondered how all of those cool gadgets worked. I dare you to tell me that Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy’s Tricorder didn’t fascinate you! Our love of nerdy things continues; now that we’re grown women, some of us hold degrees in math or science, while others who weren’t “hard core” nerds make ourselves content by learning how data-driven toys work.

Given my own interests, I grew up thinking that girls who wish to become educated in either formal or applied sciences were all around but, unfortunately, it seems they’re not. Though girls in the U.S. are not forbidden from obtaining an education...though, if the GOP gets its way the chances are great that, even in the year 2012 and for the foreseeable future, girls will be steered away from technological pursuits. According to David Mielach of, fear of hard work steers students (male and female) away from science and technology. But according to Andrew Meltzoff, co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, cultural stereotypes steer girls away from math.

Really? Yes…REALLY.

Gender differences emerge early in adolescence. The charts below document what multiple studies have shown: girls are smarter than boys at an early age, but this doesn’t translate to women in science and technology fields.

Girls in STEM
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So what do we now know? The bottom line is that women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are underrepresented, and much greater participation of girls is needed in order to balance the scales. Of course, participation often occurs when mentors are available to help chart the course; students today are fortunate enough to have instructors with the brain power and passion of Drs. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox to make science more appealing and fun but, if only for the sake of identification, more women are needed in those areas to mentor girls.

Organisations such as the National Center for Women & Information Technology can help. They are a “coalition that works to increase diversity in IT and computing,” and they promote increasing the number of highly-trained women in technology because of their belief that “greater diversity will create a larger and more competitive workforce, and promote the design of technology that is as broad and innovative as the population it serves.” Groups like this seek to bridge the numerical gap between men and women in these fields but it’s not just about more women, it’s about diversity and creating opportunities.

Other organisations have formed partnerships so that girls can find the resources necessary to update their skills and broaden their tech-development knowledge base. For example, “Tech needs Girls” is a campaign by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that “seeks, through extensive engagement with government and private sector stakeholders, to attract greater participation of girls in the technology sector.”

Think about it: women represent slightly over 50% of the U.S. population and nearly half of the global population. Doesn’t it make sense, for the sake of the nation’s future global standing in the science and technology race, to develop both halves of the population? And wouldn’t it make just as much sense to ensure that girls have the same tools as boys to succeed in fields that will help not just this country but those in the developing world?

Know this: given the right circumstances and opportunities, nerdy girls will rule.