I’m sure that it can be, just as most anything can be conditioned into a human being given the time, intention and opportunity. But some people are just wired certain ways. I didn’t have an excess of math or science training or exposure. But I instinctively try to make everything more efficient. If I were in the tech industry I’d make a phenomenal systems engineer because my brain loves taking complicated and disparit information and harnessing it into something coherent and easily accessible and understandable.
But is that what makes me a geek? Or is it that I love ST:TNG and BSG and Dune? Because I grew up much more interested in He-Man than Barbie. But that isn’t a guy/girl thing, it’s a story thing. He-Man had a story and a world to live in and Barbie was just a girl.
Stories are the right brain side of geekdom and I like stories that are complex, that are fantastic, that are something beyond the every day world I live in. Because I need bigger stories to say something more, I love the metaphor of sci-fi. I love the freedom of making your own rules when you build new worlds. I like something that’s more interesting than everything I know.
The left brain side of geekdom are math and science and engineering; things that are quantifiable and definable, however theoretic they might be.
There was a blog last month that started this whole train of thought for me. It’s about women in technology fields; how women as secretaries and assistants in tech fields don’t really count and so we need more women educated in science and engineering so they’re active participants and not misleading statistics. Conditioning women to at least be half a geek, on the left brain side.
It’s not that I necessarily disagree with the idea of emphasizing science and math education for girls, but when it’s forced it feels like conditioning rather than encouragement. I think a higher ideal would be to broadly and deeply educate everyone and let them find their strengths and their interests.
And most of all not to discourage girls from the things they truly enjoy. The single part of Jolie’s blog that I actively disagree with is when she says, “Tell her not to worry about flirting or her hair.”
I find it troublesome to stop telling girls to take care of their hair. It implies, though subtly, that girls cannot be both beautiful and a geek, cannot enjoy cute clothes and a great pair of heels and still get into the tech industry. I bought wedges this year just so I could wear cute heels at Comic Con. They hurt my feet because they were new shoes, but still.