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

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Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) in Harry Potter (Image via Warner Bros.)

14. Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)

Let’s not leave all of the spots on this list to younger women. As important as they are, it’s equally vital that we remember and honor all of the older female characters, too. Nerdy girls and women have been around for a long, long time, after all.

Case in point: Minerva McGonagall. Like Hermione Granger, Professor McGonagall (played by Maggie Smith) is an intellectual powerhouse. She refuses to back down from her standards and principles, even in the face of a terrifying undead wizard and his quasi-racist army.

Initially, McGonagall seems too stern and law-abiding to be much of an ally for the kids of Harry Potter. She certainly doesn’t seem the type to go all-in on some civil disobedience when things get rough. However, she defies expectations and comes out as one of the fiercest, most uncompromising adults in the entire series. To call her a “nerd” is an honor.

She’s also delightfully acidic and sassy. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she has an illuminating discussion with student Neville Longbottom:

"‘My grandmother thinks Charms is a soft option,’ mumbled Neville. ‘Take Charms,’ said Professor McGonagall, ‘and I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms O.W.L., the subject is not necessarily worthless.’"

Damn, girl.