Pwning it: voices of nerd women in a male-dominated subculture

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephanie M. Pruitt (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Gwen Hunnicutt

Abstract: A nerd is commonly defined as someone who is “socially inept” or “bookish.” While this term generally has a negative connotation, in some social circles nerd has been reclaimed as a positive attribute. However, there is much more to nerds and nerd subculture. Using theories on identity, presentation, and gender, I analyze how nerds and nerd culture have transitioned in society. For women, this includes battling the notion of being a “fake geek girl” and other preconceived ideas about women in nerd subcultures. Ten women who self-identified as nerds were interviewed about their experiences being a woman in a typically male-dominated nerd subculture and how those experiences may have shaped their gender performance. I found that these women began identifying as a nerd at a young age, and during that time, it was not an attractive label. The nerd label eventually developed into a term of pride. I also found that women often did not think much about their gender presentation, but some did appear to conform to the masculine hegemony present within nerd communities. Others maintained their own personal identity even when the ideals of nerd culture and personal traits were incongruous.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Gender, Identity, Male-Dominated, Nerd, Presentation, Women
Women $x Identity
Presentation of self
Gender expression
Male domination (Social structure)

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