The 10 Hottest Nerds: Female Edition

Olivia Munn? Not a nerd. Liking Star Wars? Not nerdy. Pretty mainstream actually. A hot actress who is in a lot of Joss Whedon stuff? Not necessarily a nerd. Probably just has a good agent.

So what makes a hot female nerd? I don’t think anyone can definitely say. Probably just someone who knows what they’re talking about. The above clip for example actually showcases Megan Fox and Rosario Dawson’s awesome nerdiness, while still poking fun at the trope that liking a bajillion dollar movie franchise is somehow “nerdy.”

Like, has anyone seen real nerds? They don’t just think Han Solo was hot. They know who Wedge Antilles and Jek Porkins are. Anyway, this list is plaguing me. I’m not sure what qualifies as a female celebrity nerd anymore. Here’s an honest try.

1. Danica McKellar

Shutterstock/ s_bukley

Winnie Cooper a.k.a. Danica McKellar loves math. She loves it so much she’s written two books about it. She’s also an education advocate, helping to get middle school girls more interested in mathematics — and enough confidence to pursue careers in it. Makes sense since McKellar studied math at UCLA, even having a theorem named after her. That is true unabashed nerdiness, girl.

2. April O’Neil

April O’Neil’s Tumblr

Where else are you going to find a porn star with such an intense love of Doctor Who? O’Neil’s got a Dalek bath toy, an Allons-y tattoo and infinite Who knowledge? She took her name from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and in a recent Reddit AMA, she said one her favorite career moments was working on the XXX Star Trek parody. I’ve followed April on Tumblr for a while and I never get the impression she’s faking any of her nerdiness. She’s a freak in allll the ways.

3. Alyson Hannigan

Shutterstock/ s_bukley

This is more Willow Rosenberg than Alyson Hannigan but man, Willow was an awesome nerd in the first two seasons of Buffy. She’s really good at computers and very socially awkward. Hannigan also played another type of nerd, the sexually active band geek, in American Pie. She’s a redheaded nerd goddess.

4. Rosario Dawson


Rosario Dawson can speak Klingon. She created a comic book series called Occult Crimes Task Force. She voiced Artemis in the animated Wonder Woman and starred in Sin City. Not that being cast in nerd things makes her a nerd. The comic book creation helps, but I think it’s the Star Trek obsession that seals the deal here. When a lady goes on national TV and unabashedly speaks Klingon, can you really deny her her nerddom badge?

5. Aisha Tyler

Shutterstock/ Joe Seer

Comedian Aisha Tyler is known for playing hot secret agent Lana on Archer but she’s actually a pretty nerdy lady. She’s an avid video gamer who did voice work on Halo, but she regularly admits that her once “shameful past-time” has definitely gone mainstream lately. Fellow actress and gamer Mila Kunis could also make the list, but Tyler wins this round for her post-E3 rant, “I’ve Been A Gamer Since Before You Could Read.”

6. Mayim Bialik

Shutterstock/ Helga Esteb

Blossom’s got a PhD in neuroscience. The 90s teen actress made the transition to adult actress with an Emmy nom for Big Bang Theory. She doesn’t just play a nerd on TV, she actually is one. She got in to both Harvard and Yale, but chose to attend UCLA. She wrote a book about attachment parenting theory. Did I mention the PhD in neuroscience?

7. Kristen Schaal

Shutterstock/ Helga Esteb

Kristen Schaal looks like a doll and acts like the funniest weirdo in the world. You’ve seen her on Flight of the Concords as an obsessive fan of the boys, on 30 Rock as “another weird page” and The Daily Show as the woman’s issues correspondent. She’s just cute as a button. Schaal’s a classic comedy nerd. She does stand up and sketch and was a voice (and a chalkboard gag) on The Simpsons. If that’s not enough, she co-wrote a book called The Sexy Book of Sex which sounds exactly like a nerd trying to describe intercourse. Hilarious.

8. Kari Byron

Ray Sampson

We’ve covered math, but what about those hot science geeks out there? Kari Byron, co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters has got that covered. Her other shows include Head Rush, a science education teen program on the Science Channel and Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships, which is exactly as cool as it sounds. She’s also a sculptor and artist, an atheist and suffers from mysophobia, a fear of germs. Aw, girl. You can use my Purell.

9. Felicia Day


Nerds love Felicia Day, but Felicia Day isn’t just a nerd babe — she’s also a nerd. She created and stars in a much-loved web series called The Guild based on her life as a gamer. As a kid, she was home-schooled and studied operatic performance, then went on to major in mathematics and music. She also wrote and stars in Dragon Age: Redemption, a web series based on the Dragon Age video games. Do I even have to mention Dr. Horrible?

10. Gillian Anderson

Shutterstock/ Featureflash

Gillian Anderson is the ultimate geek hottie and not just for her role as Dana Scully on The X Files. She was in the gifted program at her high school and has said her multi-colored dyed hair and piercings got her voted “Most Bizarre.” Alt nerd! She also did a voice in the Japanese animated fantasy film Princess Mononoke. News that she may be shacking up with former X-Files co-star David Duchovny is the greatest end to their will-they-won’t-they of all time. (Suck it, Kate and Leo.) TC Mark

image – s_bukley


More From Thought Catalog

  • Amber

    How is Felicia Day number 9 and some girl half naked in Doctor Who apparel number 2?

  • Elizabeth

    So does owning both of Danica McKellar’s books make me a nerd too?

  • Dan

    Needs more Cara Santa Maria >_<

  • Jan

    Problem is…a good majority of the women on here aren’t hot

    • Tony F.


  • wow

    why are these lists still a thing?

  • Only L<3Ve @

    […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

  • Jessi Smith

    I don’t know if she’s famous enough, but Cara Santa Maria. Oh my god Cara Santa Maria, please.

    • burgy

      yes. yes yes yes.

    • Macy Davidson

      I couldn’t agree more. I think she has a Phd. in Neuroscience. She wears glasses, too.

  • arbietheastronaut

    Dammit Olivia Munn was the first woman that came to my mind!

  • Steph Carcieri (@pardimate)

    I don’t think anyone has the right to determine who is and isn’t a nerd, and we really need to stop drawing a line and saying “Okay you’re in” or “No, you’re not good enough to be called a nerd, stop pandering”. Maybe what they consider being a nerd doesn’t jive with what you consider being a nerd, but who’s to say who is right? Maybe I’m just a little sensitive on this topic after the whole “Booth Babes Need Not Apply” article by Joe Peacock.

    • Kevin M.

      Are you seriously trying to say we dont need to evaluate what we mean by the word nerd? Your desire to be all-inclusive and not make lines of demarcation is detrimental to the English language and communication as a whole. I have no issue with being more specific with our use of adjectives. If we’re not speaking the same language, we might have a breakdown in communication.

      • Steph Carcieri (@pardimate)

        What I was trying to say is that “nerdism” encompasses a broad spectrum of topics/mannerisms/hobbies, such as being a nerd about food, or being a nerd about anime. I don’t think someone should say, “What, you don’t know who Ra’s al Ghul is, you can’t call yourself a nerd”. There shouldn’t be some line formed by your level of knowledge on topics A, B and C. It’s subjective, such as the word beautiful. Can you honestly argue that there could be some definitive description of the word, the end-all be-all meaning of the word beauty? Calling yourself a nerd isn’t the same as calling yourself an astronaut, where there are defined and easily identifiable parameters in which the word applies.

        Basically what I am trying to say is that people should not judge others so harshly for calling themselves a nerd, not that all words in the English language should lose their definitive meaning so we’re sent into some sort of crazed anarchy of mass confusion.

    • TheGreenDoor

      I agree with you and I think I understand where you’re coming from. A lot of women end up having to prove themselves as nerds especially if they’re pretty. People just won’t believe it so they end up pestering them about things they deem nerdy. But I don’t think Gaby did that here. It’s obvious she included different types of nerds. Theres the math nerd, the science nerd, the comic book nerd, etc. And those don’t necessarily overlap so they aren’t all one type of nerd. Yes, you’re right, people can also be nerdy about art or food or music and it would be nice if this list was continued to include those but as it is now, i don’t think it’s a huge issue. Especially considering that these are the stereotypical nerds. These interests are what you think of when you hear the word “nerd” just like there’s a certain image you think of when you hear someone referred to as a jock, goth, punk, emo kid, hipster, etc.

      • Steph Carcieri (@pardimate)

        I think it was “Like, has anyone seen real nerds? They don’t just think Han Solo was hot. They know who Wedge Antilles and Jek Porkins are.” along with the video before that about celebrities pandering to nerds that triggered this reaction for me. It just seemed judgmental. And like I said, It may be that I am just more sensitive on the topic after that aggravating article about “Booth Babes” came out. I just don’t think anyone should be tested on their “nerd cred”.

      • Sierra

        I think the issue is that she didn’t have to preface the article on hot male nerds in the same way, which suggests that women have their nerdiness called into question a lot more often than men do. I agree that “nerd” should have a definition with more minimum criteria than just liking Star Wars, but women shouldn’t have to prove themselves more than men do. Women who are interested in nerdy things are often assumed to be just pandering to the “real” (meaning male) nerds, rather than being nerds themselves.

  • Autumn C

    Wow, this whole “girls who are nerds/not nerds” is one of the most ignorant arguments that I keep hearing. When do men get to determine whether or not a girl is nerdy enough, based on some sort of nebulous “nerd” criteria? Please find more important things to care about than protecting the sanctity of your precious boy’s club.

    • Jk

      Author’s a girl yo.

      • Tony F.


      • Autumn C

        My mistake, but girls can be just as good at misogyny, yo.

  • Jack

    Love how you’ve only put women who are conventionally beautiful. You’d never call a manga loving, costume loving ‘nerd’ hot. Basically it’s not their nerdiness that makes them hot, they’re already hot, but you like that they’re nerdy too. I’m thinking of some of the geeks I have on my Facebook feed (people who were bullied mercilessly at my school) and you’d never dream of calling them a hot nerd.

  • darren

    I’d also like to add Lisa foiles
    And both halves of garfunkle and oates!

  • Claudia

    You forgot Natalie Portman. She graduated from Harvard!

    • Kevin M.

      Youre so right! Everyone who went to Harvard and other ivy league schools are nerds! lolz.

  • michaelwg

    The things i’d do with a flute & Alyson Hannigan. Nonetheless, Felicia Day all the way. Codex = +5 to boners & +10 speed on the way to Sexy Town.

  • Brooklyn

    Gaby, no Rashida Jones? What’s up with that?! :)

  • Joseph Lamour

    And no Janina Gavinkar? She is the hottest dork i’ve ever seen.

  • paperballpotluck

    LOVE this. I also want to add Analeigh Tipton. She is a model/actress who isn’t well known. YET. I know she doesn’t have a theorem named after her or a Dr. Who Tattoo, BUT

    She regularly plays D&D and freaked out in an interview with ‘next’ when they asked her this shitty question – Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games, which she replied. Harry potter, but I like LOTR more and ENDERS GAME. I mean LOTR MAYBE, but Enders Game? Pretty nerdy. She also nerds out over Quantum Mechanics.

    Plus she’s pretty damn smokin’

  • Rain Forrest

    Thandie Newton! Braiiiiinns

  • Irene

    You forgot Tina Fey.

  • Marissa Zane (@iamnzane)

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU that Alyson Hannigan / Willow was the cover image on this article. Now that I’m done being excited, let me go back and read the rest of the article.

  • Setoshino

    Reblogged this on The World Without Us.

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