Learn About Nerd Girls

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

GENERAL BACKGROUND

Q. What is Nerdgirls.com?

A. NerdGirls.com is an international online community that unites students, young professionals and anyone else who supports what the Nerd Girls are about. This includes men!  And parents, too – we offer resources to help inspire their up-and-coming Nerd Girls. It’s a place where girls and women can celebrate their inner nerd and their femininity.  We have brainstorming forums, mentorship forums, networking and more.  It’s a community where like-minds can connect – a place, we hope, that will launch the next generation of women in sci-tech.

Q. What is Nerd Girls?

A. Nerd Girls is a growing movement by young women in the sci-tech fields to create a worldwide network and to offer support and encouragement so that more girls will study these subjects in school and enter into what have historically been male-dominated professions. An equally important part of the Nerd Girl mission is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about these fields and the women who choose to enter them.  We celebrate the BEAUTY OF BRAINS!

Q. Why are Nerd Girls so important right now?

A. Our planet desperately needs engineers and scientists to tackle the myriad problems we currently face.  We particularly need more females to enter these fields to fill the growing demand and to offer the full range of perspectives so important to the inventive process. The Nerd Girls are committed to improving the quality of life for individuals, communities and the environment.

Q. Why are Nerd Girls so hot right now?

A. Nerd Girls are everywhere, from Tiny Fey to Ugly Betty.  The celebrity culture of vapid, shallow girls with little to offer is rapidly losing its allure – and the media, from Newsweek to Vanity Fair, has picked up on the emergence of a new type of female role model.  Nearly all the tech companies are now offering gadgets designed specifically for girls.  Our mantras “Smart is Sexy” and “Brains are Beautiful” have begun to resonate with women across the world.  And, as more women seek higher education in technology and engineering fields, Nerd Girls hopes to encourage and empower them make a difference in our world.

Q. When was the organization founded?

A. Nerd Girls was founded in 2000 by Dr. Karen Panetta, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University. Dr. Panetta wanted to empower the young women in her classes by making them part of an all-female team and building their confidence with hands on engineering challenges. Dr. Panetta partnered with documentary filmmakers Paola di Florio and Karen Johnson to expand the Nerd Girls’ media presence and spread the mission globally.

Q: Some people are surprised to see the photos of the Nerd Girls looking attractive in high heels and makeup.  Aren’t you undoing decades of feminism?

A: No. Just the opposite. The most damaging thing for women is to compartmentalize and limit themselves. We are by nature complex and, after decades of trying to be more
“male,” the new generation of women is comfortable in embracing all aspects of who they are and celebrating it.  Just as feminists did in the 1960s, we feel it is healthy to explore new sociological models, debunk stereotypes and continue to expand our horizons as a society.

Q. Who are the original Nerd Girls?

A. The original Nerd Girls include Tufts University students and alumni who were part of Dr. Panetta’s Nerd Girls team.  Over 140 Nerd Girls graduated from Dr. Panetta’s program and 90% of them have gone on to pursue graduate degrees.

Q. How many Nerd Girls members are currently actively participating in the organization?

A. We are several thousand strong and growing daily.  We expect our numbers to expand significantly with the launch of our website and as we roll out the various components we are developing, including a documentary, reality TV show, books and more.

Q: Why are Paola di Florio and Karen Johnson involved? What is their connection to Nerd Girls?

A: Paola di Florio and Karen Johnson are show creators and filmmakers whose work has been about empowering women. They’ve made award-winning and critically acclaimed films about maverick, trail-blazing women. They will develop the Nerd Girls into an array of media projects.

Q: Is Nerd Girls.com just a recruiting tool for a reality show or documentary?

A: Not at all. It’s a powerful tool for creating a worldwide community and movement that offers like-minded people inspiration and assistance in their endeavors to create a better future for all people. It brings together the first generation of people truly raised on technology to explore new personal and professional ground. The fact that we can use this community to communicate the message through entertainment is fantastic. We want to influence culture in a positive way, and entertainment provides an excellent means for doing that. Technology is changing the entertainment business and Nerd Girls are a part of that change. Ultimately, entertainment reflects where we are as a society. In a nutshell, NERD GIRLS is where it’s at!

BUSINESS

Q. How is Nerd Girls financed?

A. Nerd Girls is currently privately funded.  We are in the process of seeking grants, corporate sponsorship and broadcast partners.

Q. How does the Nerd Girls brand make money?

A.  Nerd Girls has many projects in the works and we are currently casting a reality TV show. The Nerd Girls have built a solar-powered car and plan to put together a racing team that will be the subject of a feature documentary.  We also have a nonprofit branch for mentoring and community outreach.

Q: Are the Nerd Girls themselves making money from being Nerd Girls?

A: The Nerd Girls who have participated so far have volunteered their time and talent. Girls who participate in the reality show and on the solar racing team will be paid a stipend for their participation.

Q. Where has the Nerd Girls been covered in the press?

A. The Nerd Girls have been featured in Newsweek Magazine, Ellegirl.com, LA Times Online and across the blogosphere. They appeared on “The Today Show” on NBC on July 18th, 2008.

NERD GIRL FANS

Q. Can anyone join the Nerd Girls?

A. Anyone is welcome to join the online Nerdgirls.com community.  Girls interested in being part of the reality show or the racing team can find out more information online at Nerdgirls.com.  You can also post comments, ideas and suggestions on any of our message boards.

Q. Will the Nerd Girls be planning a trip across the country to meet fans?

A. The Nerd Girls do weekly outreach to middle and high school-aged girls. The Nerd Girls also plan to visit college campuses all over the country in the future.

Q.  How do I get in touch with the Nerd Girls?

A. Email us:

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