Confessions of a Female Computer Geek
December 18, 2007 by Christina Danek
This widget-loving, html-coding student spills all.
by Christina Danek
Even though I rarely wear polo shirts, and I admittedly don’t own a pocket protector, AND I only speak in binary on weekends, I am undeniably a computer geek. I’m also a female, and thus I possess a combination of traits that defies many stereotypes of womankind’s place in society.
While it is true that men dominate the field of information technology (an estimated 76% of IT-related jobs in the US are held by men according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology), there is no viable reason why they should. Speaking from nearly four years of experience in the areas of computer programming, animation and web design, I’m convinced that women can be just as successful in this arena as men. As one of four senior girls in the Computer Magnet, I can honestly combat every claim against women in technology.
Claim number one: Being good with computers is geeky. The common term “computer geek” has led our society to associate one who is handy with a computer to being a geek; consequently many women try to avoid this label by steering clear of computers. But if one must be a geek to know how to intelligently operate technology, then let’s embrace the geekiness. Programming is cool, people. Being able to command a machine capable of processing around 100 million instructions per second to do whatever I want—that is cool. Heck, that is power.
I first realized I was becoming a computer geek around my sophomore year of high school when I accidentally hacked into the United States Homeland Security webpage and learned our grimmest national secrets. Not really. Actually, it happened one day when my home computer crashed, and my older brother (the proud owner of a Western Digital USB 2.0 compatible, 7200 rpm 250 Gigabyte external hard drive—enough said) explained to me that my 1.67 Gigahertz dual processor wasn’t fast enough, the hard drive wasn’t efficiently partitioned, and I could use a few extra gig of RAM. And I knew exactly what he was talking about. And I was hurt.
Claim two: computers are boring. Two weeks into my first animation class, I was working on a 3-D movie. Six months into my first programming class, I was making computer games. A year later, I had designed and created my own website online complete with animation and blogging capabilities. You get the picture.
Claim three: computers are masculine. This is equivalent to saying that driving a car, playing sports, and voting are masculine. Men may have been the first to do these things, but that’s ancient history; today, women belong just as much. Why shouldn’t women learn the language of computing technology that the rest of the technological world is speaking? I’m proud of the fact that I can sit down at a computer and, within an hour or two, turn a blank page into a game, a movie, or even a website.
Despite all the negative hype about geeks, I like to wear my geek status with pride. You know those people who hang out at stores like. Best Buy dressed in white shirts and ties, who discourse on network modems and surge protectors? They know everything, they are the Geek Squad, and they are what I aspire to become. The fashion is a bonus.
So, if knowing how to effectively use the most powerful technology available to the world is being a geek, then yes, I am. I’m not giving up hope that some day, html coding will be as popular as shopping, cascading style sheets will be as fashionable as new shoes, and women will be as common in the technological field as missing html image tags on websites.
To read this article in binary, click here.