Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Reconciling beauty and intelligence

The combination of beauty and intelligence shouldn’t be surprising. It shouldn’t be noteworthy enough for a blog post, and yet it has caused me no end of angst from the unreasonable (will he still think I’m hot once he finds out my understanding of math stops at non-Euclidean geometry?) to the shocking but real (“you can help us with the art!” from a fellow student in my graduate level computer science course).

Perhaps it is a testament to the women’s movement that intelligence no longer precludes attractiveness in most people’s minds, but why does attractiveness still preclude intelligence? Why do I feel like people expect my IQ to drop by 20 points when I put on lipstick? Perhaps the social pressure is coming not from the cultural norm, but rather from the counter culture? After all, it isn’t that people expect my makeup to fall through a hole in the space-time continuum if I accidentally read too dense an astronomy paper, but rather that my understanding of said paper will be diminished by makeup. The pressure to conform, for once, is coming from the geeks.

Correlation does not equal causation. Women in math and science fields are frequently less concerned with their appearance than their peers in the humanities. What an interesting correlation! So why do I feel marginalized and suspect when I’m dressed up around geeks? Does anyone else have this experience?

Written by kinkinexile

May 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Yes.

    A female engineer that I once worked with (who would always dress super stylishly) did an experiment once where she started dressing more like an typical nerd engineer for a month. She felt that she was taken more seriously like that, but then decided she didn’t like dressing that way so switched back. Not a controlled experiment, of course.


    May 10, 2009 at 10:54 pm

  2. Hey, first of all let me say i really like your blog. Love your witty, on-the-point observations 🙂

    And I can tell you as a female engineer: You’re not the only one who feels like that. I only dared once to put on red nailpolish while working. Guess people suddenly see your ability to carry heavy stuff and adjust mechanical equipment diminish-because of a ridiculous amount of coloured surface 😉 When I run around in my working clothes (Security Shoes, wide pants, black shirts), I’m “one of the guys”, but when I’m going out with colleagues in high-heels and skirts, I’m suddenly treated as if I’d be someone else. As if they have to split me in two personalities – the lady and the guy or something of the sort 😀
    Hey, I’m a woman no matter what. Trust me, I’ll kick your ass in Command&Conquer no less for wearing mascara!


    May 12, 2009 at 1:32 am

  3. Yup, I can echo what the other commenters have said. I’m a scientist and I consider it one of my job perks that I can dress down/badly almost every day (unless there’s a visitor or important meeting). It DOES seem that people take me more seriously when I’m dressed androgynously or “nerdy.” But then the sciences tend to be a litter light on both female persons AND males with social skills so makeup/long hair/heels/skirts tend to short the logic circuits ::rolleyes:: I also default to “one of the guys” at work…just saves on bullshit.


    May 13, 2009 at 9:23 am

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: