By Tracy Evans
My husband is a techno geek. Okay, he’s probably going to be ticked that I called him a geek but hey, aren’t most guys into everything electronic? Yep. But guess what? So are many women. Gasp. You heard right. When it comes down to it many soccer moms can kick dad’s butt when it comes to installing the VCR, fixing the computer or programming the kid’s iPod. That’s right, the secret’s out. Women aren’t hiding their technical know-how anymore. In fact, some moms are so good at fixing stuff they’re getting paid to do it.
Nicole Conway has been taking stuff apart and putting it back together again since she was a little girl. At the ripe old age of four her curiosity got the best of her and she became fascinated with all gadgets large and small: pens, radios, and televisions. Sure, most kids are obsessed with things that light up and have buttons. But how many little girls intentional dismantle an old television to see how it works? Nicole did. And she’s still doing it today at the age of forty-one. The Long Island mom of three is part of the popular Best Buy Geek Squad. You know that team of smarty pants types that can fix the gadgets in your home that you can’t. Chances are you’ve seen a member of the geek squad drive through your neighborhood in that cute little black-and-white beetle bug. Ah, like me, I bet you thought the geek driving the car was probably a guy not a girl.
Well if your computer is on the fritz and you call for help the geek who arrives at your door could be from either gender. A growing number of women now make up the 17-thousand member geek squad team. Nichole is a Deputy Field Marshal now – a fancy word for manager – but she used to work door-to-door as a Double Agent. The house call was always welcome but customers were often surprised to see a woman standing on the porch. Nichole says, “Men are usually surprised, women are usually thrilled”. And that’s before Nicole even got into the house, the really magic happened inside. One female customer was so impressed with Nicole – who repaired the family’s computer and wireless home network – the customer picked up the phone and called her spouse. Nicole says, “She called her husband in front of me, to tell him that a woman had fixed the problems that he could not. A pretty satisfying moment, I must say!”
Not bad for a woman who just a few years ago was working in a different field altogether. After spending years as a social worker – a meaningful but not profitable career - Nicole was determined to try something new. So when she heard about the Geek Squad she knew she had found her calling. Finally, all those years spent tinkering with gadgets had paid off. A good paycheck, a flexible family-friendly schedule, and a great group of geeks. What more could a woman want?
Nicole and the other women on the squad are blowing away the stereotype that women “just aren’t technical”. Thanks to role models like Nicole and the never ending techno gadgets on the market today’s little girls are being introduced to technology at an early age. And unlike previous generations of sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice they are encouraged to play with whatever they can get their little hands on. Nicole says, “The biggest thing for girls to know is not to be afraid to try it. It’s can’t break THAT bad! Girls are traditionally taught to take the safe route, and to avoid risk, whereas boys are encouraged to take risks, and to learn from their mistakes.”
Times sure have changed. Not only are women like Nicole taking on technical challenges but so are our young chicks. Over one-hundred girls from 4th grade to high school along with boys recently attended a Geek Squad Summer Academy where the learned about everything technical. At the end of the session the overwhelming majority of girls said they were now even more interested in pursuing a technology based career. Quite a difference from when my mom was a kid. When she was in high school she was discouraged from taking a science class. Even though she was a whiz the male teacher gave her an “F” cause he thought girls shouldn’t be in the class. What a jerk.
Thankfully such backward thinking is no longer the norm. Today most teachers and parents now encourage all kids to “go technical”. Just take a look at Nicole’s three girls ages 15, 12 and 9: the oldest already is already very proficient on a PC and a Mac - the middle kid is into PC games like “World of Warcraft” and even built her own computer for her 10th birthday - and the little one, get this, already knows how to install software and helps her grandma with her laptop when it’s misbehaving. Awesome. Go, girl geeks!
Tracy Evans is contributing writer for Mommy Track'd  and a long-time television producer whose work has appeared on the Travel Channel, FOX, Court TV, Lifetime to name a few. When she isn’t producing television shows, writing for magazines, or dreaming her life away she is busy chasing 19-month-old Natalia around the house, negotiating parenting chores with her husband and trying to stay cool down in steamy Miami.