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

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Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in Firefly (Image via 20th Century Fox)

6. Kaylee Frye (Firefly)

Technically, her full name is Kaywinnet Lee Frye, but on Firefly, she’s more often called, simply, “Kaylee”.

Though Kaylee (Jewel Staite) isn’t a university professor or scientist, she is still on a decidedly nerdy career path. She’s the engineer and de facto mechanic for Serenity, a cargo ship whose crew manages to get into more trouble than one might initially suspect.

She was first hired by Captain Mal Reynolds after she fixed a seemingly unfixable problem with the ship’s engine. The existing mechanic was fired, and Kaylee suddenly had a new and exciting job gallivanting around space. She’s especially protective of Serenity, often referring to it as if the ship were a living being. Any failure she can’t fix, such as an unexpected engine explosion, often plunges her into sadness and even despair.

Otherwise, however, Kaylee is upbeat and sunny, a rare boon amongst a crew of smugglers who are more often dour and cynical than anything else. Thanks to Kaylee (and, yes, the writers of Firefly), we get far more levity than we would without her character.

She’s also unafraid of being girly. Too often, it seems as if writers think that an intelligent or strong woman somehow can’t enjoy a frilly dress or some nail polish as if it’s some form of pink kryptonite (pink kryptonite is also the subject of an awkward Superman comic, but that’s for another day). Anyway, it’s good to see that there’s room for a character to be both a mechanical genius and a feminine person who just wants to wear a giant pink dress every once in awhile.