The Daily Record Celebrates “Lipstick Geek” Virginia Rometty
9:53 am, November 30th | by Amy Tennery
After Virginia Rometty was named the CEO of IBM (effective January 1, 2012), a lot of people described her as “one of the most powerful women in business.” And rightly so — she’s the first female CEO at the company and, subsequently, a huge power player in tech.
One publication has another term to describe her, however: “lipstick geek.” Hmm.
This morning, The Daily Record published its list of the “top 11 things the world will buy, watch and do in 2012.” Focusing on the tech realm, the list touted the rise of hyperlocal social networking sites and gadgets designed for the 65+ set. It also noted the ascendency of women in the industry:
The technology barons are about to be unseated, as the girls infiltrate this traditionally male-dominated sector with the appointment of IBM’s first female chief executive, Virginia Rometty, and Rachel Sterne, 28, named as Michael Bloomberg’s chief digital officer for New York City. Look out for women succeeding in everything start-ups to media gigs as they embrace tech.
“Lipstick Geeks?” Okay, tech guys are known as just “geeks.” But tech gals are… “lipstick geeks.” Ohhhhkay.
Of course, the use of the word “lipstick” as a female descriptor is nothing new. There are Lipstick Feminists, Lipstick Lesbians, and so on. The adjectival lipstick can have a range of connotations — “Lipstick Feminist” has long been a derisive term (depending on your perspective) for someone who espouses feminist ideals, while playing up her sexuality to get what she wants (never mind the rest of the feminists who wear lipstick just for the hell of it).
But, as my cohort in female-focused reporting (did I mention we’re doing that now?) Susana Polo, editor of The Mary Sue, pointed out during our intra-office consultation on this lipstick geekism, it could be empowering. She pointed to “Lipstick Lesbianism” as a source of empowerment for some… before bemoaning the fact that the term suggests wearing lipstick is otherwise an anomaly for the rest of that population.
Bottom line: this is a problematic term, particularly when it’s not self-applied. Would Rometty call herself a “Lipstick Geek?” Somehow I doubt it.