Why women love a geek

By: Hugh Wilson

It seems more and more women are going for geeks. Here’s why.

BBC2’s Great British Bake Off is, apparently, the TV hit of the moment, making stars of the judges and contestants and bringing soggy sponges and collapsed cakes into everyday conversation.

And even more surprisingly, it’s made an unlikely object of lust out of James Morton, a medical student from Glasgow University who wears tank tops and glasses and knows his way around a crème patissière.

That’s not right, surely? If women want men who can cook don’t they at least go for men who cook steak? It’s also common knowledge around our way that no man in a tank top ever got the girl.

Unfortunately, for those who aspire to alpha-male status, it seems those are outdated views. Morton is the embodiment of a new wave of geek chic. More and more women are going for blokes whose brawn is all in their brains.

Here’s why women love a geek.

Do women love geeks?

You might think this geek love is just a media invention, and that the competition between hunky sports teacher Stuart and geeky James was just an easy way of promoting a show about pastry.

But recent studies on the subject seem to fall on the side of the geeks. A poll of 2,500 women a couple of years ago found that their secret turn-ons included a geeky personality (which came second only to facial stubble), a man who loves to read and glasses. Add a love of knitwear and you have the holy trinity of nerd.

“Publically, girls will claim they want a muscly guy, who is hair-free and manly enough not to show his emotional side,” said a researcher. “But these results prove that they secretly want something different. It seems women really do like a guy who is able to show a softer side.”

Another study, of 3,000 women, found that three-quarters of women preferred a man who was handy with gadgets to a man who spent hours down at the gym.

The science of geek love

These were consumer polls and not scientifically valid. But science has recently had something to say on the matter too.

In a paper published in May last year, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, discovered that, thousands of years ago, some women had already started turning down strong, macho alpha-male types in favour of their geekier, but more devoted, counterparts.

To simplify the science, early human sexual relationships were a free-for-all, with stronger, more dominant males tending to end up with harems of women. So our non-alpha-male-forefathers, if they were to procreate, had to find a way round women’s natural desire for a strong, powerful protector. To do it, they had to use one part of the geek anatomy that’s always getting a workout – their brains.

So what did these early geeks do? They concentrated on one woman at a time, showering them with gifts and necessities like food and protection. They showed that their brains could be as valuable as an alpha male’s brawn.

In turn, this led women to value these traits – brains, generosity and loyalty in particular. It lead to many women appreciating good providers over good fighters, which perhaps helps to explain the appeal of James Morton and his perfect cheese flan.

It’s not the first serious research to bring a smile to the face of the nerds among us. In 2008, psychologists at Elon University in North Carolina asked 15 men to perform a series of tasks on camera, which were chosen to illustrate their mental and physical acumen.

More than 200 women were then shown the videos and asked to rate the men. And as it turned out, the smarter the guys, the more highly they were rated for both long-term relationships and for one-night stands, regardless of their physical ability.

Again, the researchers theorised that, subconsciously, the women were looking for bright men who would be good providers and also pass on intelligent genes.

We shouldn’t overlook physical attraction altogether, however. At the very top of the desirability tree sat those men who were both cute and clever.

Could there also be a more physical reason that women love a geek? There just might be.

According to a study reported in the Sun, IT was at the top of a list of good lovers’ occupations.

The survey, of 2,000 Brits, found that brainy IT types were the most adventurous lovers, and the attraction becomes even clearer when you realise that 82% of the male geeks interviewed said that their partners’ pleasure was most important to them.

Fitness workers scored lowest in the poll, suggesting that women suspect men with six-packs of being selfish in bed.

How to channel your inner geek

Clearly, some women go for chiselled, muscular alpha males, but if you’re not this type of man then the research suggests that adopting a few geek traits is another way to get the girl.

Don’t be afraid to show your intelligence (without being boastful) or talk about your more cerebral hobbies. If you can cook, give her a delicious demonstration.

But most of all, use your brains to give her what she wants: generosity, loyalty and your undivided attention. If the research is to be believed, that’s how geeks first got the girl, and it still works today.