Mark Zuckerberg’s Advice to Women: Don’t Date a Nerd—Be a Nerd

With the birth of his daughter, Maxima, the Facebook founder seems to have gender equality on his mind.
(Photo: Facebook)
Jan 4, 2016· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

After Mark Zuckerberg’s December announcement that he’d be donating 99 percent of his fortune—$45 billion in Facebook stock—to charity, some folks wondered what would be left for his newborn daughter, Maxima. The savvy writers at The Daily Show even posted a satirical letter from Max in which the infant asked her parents, “What are you doing? Those were going to be my shares, and you’re giving them to charity?”

In a reply to a grandmother’s comment on one of his Facebook posts, Zuckerberg has given us some insight into how he’s raising his baby girl: to be a smart innovator who can come up with a billion-dollar idea of her own.

RELATED: Women Are Leaning In, but Here’s Why They’re Still Not Being Promoted

Zuckerberg revealed his thoughts on Sunday in a comment about his New Year’s resolution. He detailed his goal for 2016, which is to build a robot “like Jarvis in Iron Man.” Facebook user Darlene Hackemer Loretto responded that she keeps telling her granddaughters “to date the nerd in school, he may turn out to be a Mark Zuckerberg!”

“Even better would be to encourage them to be the nerd in their school so they can be the next successful inventor!” Zuckerberg replied. His reply to Loretto has garnered about 22,000 likes, and plenty of commenters are praising the Facebook founder’s advice.

(Photo: Facebook)

“Mark Zuckerberg THANK YOU for your answer that holds females in a place of equality. So refreshing,” wrote Facebook user Kris Ten. “Thank you for respecting and loving women in the right way,” wrote another commenter, Michaela Carocci.

Zuckerberg’s comment has also spurred a lively discussion about gender roles. One commenter connected Zuckerberg’s words of wisdom to the big picture of gender equality in tech. “This is why STEM programs are so important, especially for people of color and/or women. We need to level the playing field and provide the education and resources necessary for ALL people to have the ability, the potential, to become the ‘next big thing,’ ” wrote Facebook user Em Nosce.

To that end, some folks might hope Zuckerberg’s commitment to raising girls who are nerds goes beyond his own daughter or Loretto’s granddaughters—and that he pressures tech companies to ditch Silicon Valley’s notorious brogrammer culture. Given the diversity data at Facebook, it seems some of that shift needs to happen there. Numbers released by the company in June 2015 revealed that globally, only 32 percent of its employees are women. When it comes to workers with STEM jobs—working as programmers or UX designers, for example—women are a mere 16 percent of Facebook tech employees.

Meanwhile, some folks have criticized Loretto as having a 1950s mentality and encouraging her granddaughters to be gold diggers. Facebook user Lindsey Pearlescent Wells wrote that we should “always encourage young girls to grow up to become the successful ones, not just marry the successful men.”

The grandmother defended herself on Monday by sharing her own experience. “I do encourage them to do well, I’ve done everything in my life MYSELF, my children’s dad died at a very young age and I did it all. Starting 2 businesses. I said it once to them in jest and NEVER did I think anyone would even see this, let alone get the attention it has gotten,” Loretto commented.