What Do I Know? by Kristi McKinney

The following post was submitted by Kristi McKinney, who provides her perspective on being a young, geeky working woman. We love having guest Geek Girls contribute their thoughts. If you’re interested in writing an article for us, please let us know!

As society’s use of — and affinity for — technology has grown, so too has the idea of who uses, manages, and can fix our vast array of gadgets. This field, hobby, and obsession is undoubtedly dominated by men. But what about the women who do make technology their passion, their obsession, and their careers?

I can tell you that I’ve had to shrug cutely and pretend I can’t fix a problem many more times than I’ve been permitted to fix one. As a woman, I’m often brushed aside when anything technical comes up. Why? Because the stereotype of a computer geek is that they’re tall skinny guys with thick glasses, they’re antisocial and they own one of those USB drink coolers. They love WOW, Nethack, and cheese doodles. But just as that stereotype does not fit all male geeks, the gender of the stereotype is also wrong.

I’m a woman and a geek; those are not mutually exclusive. I actually know things about computers and technology.  Break out your defibrillator, a new era of geeks is upon us. We’re women and we do know what we’re talking about. For some of us, our primary occupation has nothing to do with our tech obsessions, while others are closing the gender gap and becoming wonderfully geeky professionals. I was a grad student until not too long ago. I now write web content. Though my job doesn’t require me to be coding or even anything very technical, I end up doing it anyway for a variety of reasons, but not easily. I’m met with skepticism when I announce I can fix the problem at hand.

So what does this mean for us geeky girls? It means we’re endlessly doubted and the geeky tech guys that work at our offices think we’re marginal at best. We face the same challenges that women in the workplace have always faced, but with a little extra ammo.

What should we do? Persist. The next time you can fix something, but no one wants to listen to you, try harder. Make your knowledge known and never be ashamed of it. Don’t worry that you don’t know everything. Be confident and believe in yourself; if you do, others will start to believe in you too.

Kristi McKinney, Geek

Kristi McKinney currently works at Forte, LLC, writing and managing MyWayForward.com. She recently received her MA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota where she studied Russian journalism.  Kristi has had many geeky odd jobs over the years, including helping to write content and build web pages for the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. Kristi received her BA in Communication and English with a minor in Russian from the University of North Dakota.