Is the Sidge girlie trope really synonymous with the arts, or can she be found in Cambridge’s labs as well?Pexels

We all know the Sidge girlie. She exists beyond Sidge – she is in every cafe in town, she floats around King’s Parade, she queues for every Wednesday Revs. She is, however, only half of Cambridge’s catwalk. The Downing site is a world of its own – or is it? Is the Sidge girlie trope really synonymous with the arts, or can she be found in Cambridge’s labs as well?

Our hypothesis? Perhaps STEM-eotypes exist for a reason

Newton’s lesser-known fourth law states that STEM students’ outfits must lack any ounce of creativity. The imagination required to produce a nuanced and critical essay perhaps gives humanities students an innate sense of style.

The midi skirt and tiny top combo does feel inherently arts-student-esque. There seems to be a fairly explicit correlation between artsiness and the regularity with which you’re spotted wearing cowboy boots. Englings and Classicists become HSPS students, who gradually fade into Geographers, Land Ecs, NatScis, and – before you know it – there’s an Engineer standing in front of you. The skinny scarf has become skinny jeans.

“Before you know it – there’s an Engineer standing before you. The skinny scarf has become skinny jeans.”

The Sidge girlie trope does, of course, also function to pressure us into dressing fashionably on site. Around college we might wear our college puffers with pride, but on Sidge? A universal faux pas. Comfort takes a back seat, and platforms and corsets take priority. The pressure to make a statement is real. If the arts students really are better dressed, then it’s likely attributable to our bitter fear of pointed, lecture-hall stares if we were to rock up in tracksuit and crocs. Not to say we haven’t; just that it incites a trembling alarm.

Mathmo? More like fashion show!


Mountain View

Humanities Eye: Transforming a STEM-coded Engling into an indie icon

The STEM cliche of low effort and poor dress sense is, realistically, unfair and untrue. The Englings surely aren’t the only ones who frequent Sidney Street’s Urban Outfitters, or religiously revert to Vinted for their post-exam retail therapy hit. Trends have to start somewhere, and they are often engineered by STEM students. The hiking boots and walking shoes of Geographers and Earth scientists, which were once frowned upon, now form the foundation of the Gorpcore aesthetic – the trend where functional, outdoor clothing is worn as streetwear. These students wore Salomon-style sneakers long before they were popularised by mainstream fashion icons. Aside from being an acronym to describe scientific disciplines, STEM also represents the Stylish, Trendy, Elegant and à la Mode students parading through Downing site and the West Hub.

Perhaps the artsier amongst us simply aren’t going to enough lectures. If you haven’t been to a 9am all year, then of course you have an extra ten minutes in the morning to think about your outfit. It’s understandable that you may select a speedier and more reliable combination when you’re waking up at 8am for the sixth day in a row. If you’re waking up for an early lecture Monday to Saturday every week, then efficiency will always trump fashion. Besides, fashion is in the eye of the beholder and for some, lab coat-chic, muted tones and rucksacks may be more appealing than mainstream trends.

“Maybe the STEM-eotypes that seem so deeply ingrained are actually just the product of gender-based discrepancies”

It would be amiss to ignore the fact that the STEM-humanities divide in the Cambridge fashion scene is heavily gendered. According to UCAS data from HESA, men make up 43% of students overall, but engineering and computing have the highest proportion of male enrolments, at 79% and 77% respectively. Fashion in general has often been considered “girly” and “feminine”, and perhaps has therefore been disdained. Maybe the STEM-eotypes that seem so deeply ingrained are actually just the product of gender-based discrepancies. STEM students’ degrees are all too often deemed harder work and more legitimate than their humanities counterparts. Are our fashion preconceptions just a new regurgitation of these same stereotypes?

Anyway, who are we to judge? As two (well-dressed) humanities students with no 9ams, we might be a little biased.