|Attendees wearing costumes pose for a photo during Comic-Con international convention in San Diego, California July 13, 2012. (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)
Is the term "fanboy" becoming a misnomer?
At comic book and sci-fi conventions across North America, many of the Star Trek, Star Wars, horror fans and video gamers are female. And last week, some 7,000 female fans attended the second annual women-only GeekGirlCon in Seattle.
In the gaming world according to the Entertainment Software Association, 47% of all players are women, a stat that inspired the game giant Electronic Arts to add a "female avatar" to its NHL game.
Still, some sexism exists in the geek world, according to the women who live in it.
"The assumption still is that girls are there to get attention, because our boyfriends talked us into it, or that we're only into the TV and film," says Liana Kerzner, a comic book writer (Ed and Red's Comic Strip) and TV personality who will attend this weekend's monstrous Fan Expo Canada in Toronto.
"But there are certainly more women fans. Harry Potter has done a lot to get women out to conventions. Costuming has done a lot, too.
"There are also more female role models, like (sci-fi author) Julie Czerneda, who have been around long enough to help get other women published. Personally I think the female fans have always been there, but there's now a way for us to get noticed and be counted."
Broadcast technician and comic fan Veronica Manzerolle says things are improving. "When you go to comic stores you still feel like a minority to a certain extent," she says with a laugh. "I've definitely been in conversations where (male fans) are caught off guard that you know certain authors."
"But now you go to a comic store and you notice some staff are women. And more women artists and writers coming forward and getting recognition for their work."
Dressing up has drawn more women into the horror scene as well, says Thea Munster, who founded Toronto's version of the nationally popular "Zombie Walk" (and who was married last year in full zombie makeup).
Growing up in Victoria, she says, she was hooked on horror from her first childhood viewing of Night Of The Living Dead.
"I have a picture of me at seven dressed as a skeleton and I look so happy," she says. "I think I liked scaring people since I was little. But when I was 11 or 12 I saw Night of the Living Dead, and I connected. I wanted to be one of those monsters.
"When I was a teenager, I had a lot of friends. But for horror movie nights it was guy friends usually. I had one girlfriend in Victoria who'd watch horror movies with me all night."
Of course, the real tipping point would be when gender isn't an issue.
"That's what's awesome about going to shows like Fan Expo, you'll see a whole family of (Star Wars) Storm Troopers -- mom and dad and littler storm troopers with them," Manzerolle says.
"I don't think of it as a black and white demographic, male and female. There's something for everybody."