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Geek and Proud

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Glasses? Affirmative.
Obscure sci-fi references? Affirmative.
Sitting in the dark alone, playing World of Warcraft? Affirmative.

We all have our idea of who the traditional 'Geek' is, and for most of us, it's not a very flattering picture.

Even the dictionary currently defines it as 'an unfashionable or socially inept person'.

Ouch. For the Lady Geeks, this can't fail to hit a bit of a nerve.

2012-11-08-GeekAndProud.jpg

My company's focused on bridging the gap between women and technology, while our latest campaign, Little Miss Geek, is focused on inspiring the next generation in order to do just that.

One of the questions that a few high-profile journalists have raised, both about the company and our recent campaign, has been to do with our name. In their eyes, the word geek is the problem.

We're trying to make the technology industry desirable for women. We're trying to change perceptions of the tech industry, to throw old stereotypes out the window and show it off for the exciting, ideas based environment it really is.

Why oh why would we give ourselves a label that could in any way be thought of as 'socially inept'? Aren't we just reinforcing negative ideas about technology? Surely the word 'geek' will put off women?

Not in our eyes.

The computer geeks were once the outsiders, the minority interest group who were the only ones that even vaguely understood those big, complicated machines we all used to make spreadsheets.

But now all that has changed. Tech is everywhere, it's part of the very fabric of our lives, and more of us than ever know more than ever about it. The computer geek is no longer in the minority. We're all geeks now, in our own way.

That's why we think it's time for women to reclaim the word for the technology industry.

Lady Geek recently conducted proprietary research in order to give us a better idea of public attitudes towards the word 'geek'. We found that although 49% of people still thought the word carried some negative connotations, a whopping 87% believed that the meaning of the word had evolved positively over the last ten years. More than 91% told us that they would be proud to be called a geek.

And more importantly, 43% of people said that it is up to women to reclaim the word 'geek'.

To many women, the word geek means passion. It means intelligence. It means edge. It means an understanding of and a commitment to a subject that is exciting and inspiring.

In recent years 'geek' culture has been appropriated into 'Geek Chic'. Walk round East London and you can't move for thick rimmed glasses and gimmicky T-Shirts. While it's great to see the word receive so much positive coverage, this is, however, not what we are aiming for. We are not appealing to hipsters, nor do we want to apologise for the 'socially inept'.

The geek we worship is someone with a genuine passion for a subject, somebody who embraces it and understands it and wants to share their knowledge with the rest of the world.

'Geek' is a great word. It looks great and it sounds great. Geek. We believe it's time it moved beyond being a derogatory term or an ironic label. That's why it's such an integral part of our campaign brand.

It's time for women to reclaim the word 'geek'. Let's make our young women feel proud when they look at the phones in their pockets, the tablets on their tables and realise that hey, they might be just that little bit geeky too.

Women need to stand up and shout it out loud.

'I'm a geek. And proud.'

If you are a Lady Geek and proud, do get in touch and tell us your story.

@belindaparmar is the author of Little Miss Geek which is out in paperback and kindle edition on Amazon. Follow us on Twitter @LadyGeekTV