I’ve always been a proud nerd girl. I grew up with my nose in a book and a strong love for all the things you’re likely to see at a Renaissance Festival. As little girls, it seems we are slightly freer to explore things like gaming, cosplay, and Hermione Granger levels of book obsession. But somewhere around high school we get shot down by Regina George in a plaid skirt and glasses; the sexy nerd girl stereotype.
If you’re like me, and you’ve walked the tight rope of trying to be nerdy or normal, you NEED to meet these 4 women. Unlike the harmful nerd girl stereotype, which dictates women must be either smart or sexy, these women rise above the limitations. They are not bold or inspiring because of who they are, but because of how they carry themselves. Each of these women have inspired me with their self confidence, fierce work ethic, and genuine passion for nerd culture that cannot be bound by simplistic narratives. Check them out if you need a little boost to your own nerdy soul.
Easily my favorite character on The Big Bang Theory, Mayim makes the top of my list for women who represent what it means to be nerdy and female. On screen, she portrays a character unbound by the overly sexualized nerd girl stereotype, which I adore. Off screen, she normalizes the geeky girl narrative by existing in the niche with unashamed authenticity. With a doctorate in Neuroscience from UCLA, Mayim is far from faking her geeky life. Her personal website, GrokNation, talks about what it is like to be a highly educated woman in Hollywood and addresses social topics, such as her own Jewish heritage. She inspires me by simply chasing her career goals and showing that you don’t have to fit a certain mold to be a nerdy woman. Your brain and your passion is all that’s required.
Marisha Ray and the women of Critical Role
When I say the words “Dungeons and Dragons,” your first thoughts probably don’t include an image of successful women at the top of their field, but they should! Marisha Ray, Laura Bailey, and Ashley Johnson all star on the live D&D game, Critical Role. They are talented actresses who have voiced characters in games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Lego Star Wars, and more. Marisha and the others are outspoken about being professional nerds who enjoy what they do. They all inspire me in their unfaltering passion for an area of nerd culture typically labeled a boys club. Often facing particularly hateful bouts of misogyny, Marisha and gang are never deterred from doing what they love and owning their field.
The founder of the Black Girl Nerd blog and podcast, Jamie inspires me in her sincere empowerment of other women. She created her online space for women who felt unwelcome in traditional nerd circles, specifically black women, and it has flourished. Aside from her obvious maven status in the world of nerd culture, she is also a seriously woke voice for equality. Through understanding the power of representation and the creation of safe spaces, she has built a community that allows marginalized groups to explore their geeky sides free of stigma or pretense. She inspires me with her commitment to inclusivity and her unique voice bringing diverse opinions to geek culture.
Felicia Day is the self-proclaimed “Queen of the Nerds” and of my heart if I’m honest. An actress, producer, singer, author, writer, and creator of nerd media giant, Geek & Sundry, Felicia has definitely earned her royal title. She is someone who has taught me to be unashamed of the things I like and my own perpetual awkwardness. Her persona is one of authentic joy and serious drive, which makes for an unstoppable force in a world lacking in both. Men and women in all corners of nerd culture enjoy her work, and she continues to expand her empire each year. She inspires me because we both grew up being homeschooled and nerdy. But instead of letting society tell her that her story made her weird or weak, she turned everything that was unique about her into a passion and a career. She is serious hustle goals and BFF material.