Nerd Girls Save The World: 17 Of Pop Culture’s Greatest Female Geeks

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Celebrate the female characters who are proud nerds and geeks throughout pop culture

Hermione (Emma Watson) in the Harry Potter series, Screencap via Warner Bros.

Women have been an integral part of nerd culture from its very beginnings. For instance, Frankenstein, the 1818 novel that many believe kicked off the science fiction genre, was written by Mary Shelley. Women have also created much of today’s fan culture. Some of the earliest fan conventions were organized and run by women in the Star Trek fandom. The worlds of fan fiction and fan art and richly populated by female creators as well. They are, in many ways, some of the oldest and most vocal nerds of all.

When it comes to representation, though, strong female characters can be few and far between. For many classic properties in nerd land, like Star Trek and Star Wars, women have been relegated to the sidelines. In early films and television shows, they were often little more than sidekicks or victims. Perhaps even worse, they are sometimes singled out as sex objects, and little more.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a sexy character or a character who needs to accept help from someone else, it’s discouraging when that’s the only option available. For many years, fans have been clamoring for more diverse representation, especially when it comes to female characters.

To be fair, things have been getting better. The latest entries in the Star Wars franchise features a female lead in its two most recent films (Rey, played by Daisy Ridley in Episode VII and Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, in the upcoming Rogue One film). The newest Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, will also be featuring a female lead.

Still, there’s always more work to be done. We should celebrate female characters who are unafraid of their own ambition, intellectualism, and occasional social awkwardness. Let’s toast all the nerd girls who won’t apologize for themselves and one day might even save the world.

Read on to learn more about some of the smartest, nerdiest women celebrated in pop culture. Remember, some of these slides contain spoilers. Proceed with caution.