The Unicorn Files: Debunking the Myth of Lady Geeks

By: Terra Clarke Olsen

Hello lovely Have You Nerd readers! This post is a bit different. I am in search of volunteers for a new project I’m undertaking with a friend, and I need your help!

One of my dearest friends, Nate Watters, and I just launched a new project titled “The Unicorn Files: Debunking the Myth of Lady Geeks.” Our goal is to show that female geeks exist, and are a wide and diverse group.

Over the past few years, many people have written about females in the geek community, and how the group is often dismissed and overlooked. Although all this literature is important and valuable, we want to take it to the logical next step- to create an avenue that shows women are in the geek community. Lady geeks exist; we’re an important part of the geek community, and we’re not going to disappear.

Image by Tammy of TBVC Design

Image by Tammy of TBVC Design

The Unicorn Files aims to capture the diverse body of female geeks by photographing individual geek women, giving women in the community a chance to tell their story. The photos will represent them and what they love. Each woman and how they are shot will be different (some women have lots of geek memorabilia while others have none), the one common theme being we are shooting everyone in their home (a safe space that is reflective of them). In addition, each participant is asked to fill out a form so I can write a bio to accompany their photo(s).

A bit of history about the project. The idea came to me over a year ago at the height of the ‘fake geek girl’ bs. After working through some self-doubt, I decided I just needed to do it. I pitched it to Nate and he loved the idea. “The Unicorn Files” is in reference to a term I hate being called (which I talk about in a Seattle Weekly article). A whole month later, and here we are. 🙂

So now, the big question. Do you want to volunteer? Do you know someone who might be interested? Please reach out if you would like to participate, and please help us spread the word!

First behind the scenes pic from Meg's photo shoot.

First behind the scenes pic from Meg’s photo shoot.

You can find us on:




Not sure? No problem. Please feel free to reach out and ask any questions you might have. A few questions have already come up a few times, so I thought it would be good to address them here:

What are you going to do with the photos?

We cannot detail how the project will come together as a whole yet, but we’re hoping that it turns into something amazing (we’re discussing self publishing once the project is complete).

Is this project for all types of geeks, or just comic book/Star Wars nerds?

ALL GEEKS! I want any women who is a self proclaimed geek to feel welcome to participate in The Unicorn Files. Some women are book obsessed, others are science nerds, but all are geeks.

Is this project for all women? What about PoC, diverse body types, and trans women?

All I have to say is YES! Again, we want to represent self-proclaimed geeky ladies. If you fall in that category and are open to being photographed, please volunteer.

Can I have copies of the photos you take of me?

Yes! After we release the images to the public, we will give the models copies of the edited images (and probably a few extra!).

Who takes the photos? What about makeup and hair?

Nate is the sole photographer for this project. He is a brilliant artist and does amazing work. I accompany him on every shoot, helping with art direction. We ask that models do their own hair and makeup, and pick out a few outfits that they feel good in (that could be your Harry Potter pajamas or a ball gown, whatever you like to wear).

I live in ___. Can I still participate? 

We are kicking off the project in Washington since we both reside in Seattle. However, we are planning on making trips across the United States, so we’re looking from women all over. We can’t promised that we will get to your state, but if we have enough volunteers from a certain area, we definitely will try to get there!

unicorn magic gif

And if you are wondering who the heck we are, here is a bit more information:

Me: I’m a long time geek and feminist. I work for a mobile indie gaming company, write the Geekly Report for Seattle Weekly, founded the blog Have You Nerd, and have been a GeekGirlCon staffer for two years. I love helping people share their stories, and am constantly inspired by other woman. I want to share that inspiration.

About Nate Watters: Nate is a lover of stories, art, and human nature. He studied psychology in school before creating a career in his true passion, photography. He is a master of capturing images, but in particular is very skilled at capturing people. His portraits are beautiful. He is a thinker, philosopher, and all around great guy. He has shot for major companies, like Degree, and local companies, like Theo’s Chocolates. He has also shot for many newspapers and magazines in the northwest, such as Portland Monthly Magazine,Seattle Weekly and City Arts.

Annnd if you made it this far, thank you for reading! 😀