Programmers. You think you know them. But do you really? There are a lot of stereotypes—it’s easy to squish all of them into the same mold. But maybe some of those tried-and-true stereotypes aren’t so true after all?
They’re all dudes.
It seems accurate, I admit. Gaze across the landscape of technology, and you will see a paucity of women. BUT it’s not true. Women programmers are harder to find, yes, but they’re becoming more and more common. We’re really excited this year because we’ve had a lot of girls apply to be part of our apprenticeship program. Woohoo! And there are plenty more women across the country who are not only in technology, but are specifically computer programmers. No, you don’t have to go as far back as Ada Lovelace, as cool as she was. Check out Marissa Mayer (former Yahoo! CEO) and Lyndsey Scott (Calvin Klein model and iOS developer) if you need more convincing. (And if you want to apply to our apprenticeship program, click here.)
They hate sports.
Here’s the thing. There are unathletic computer programmers out there. Just like there are unathletic people in every other profession. But I’m not convinced there are more unathletic programmers than in any other job description. Or maybe I just know every athletic programmer ever. My boss is the biggest stereotype breaker for this one—he’s a huge Notre Dame football fan and he plays volleyball like a champ. Another one of our developers used play on the offensive line of his college football team. That knowledge comes in handy when we work on sports-related software in the office.
They drink Mountain Dew.
This is one of the most prevalent stereotypes in my experience. If you are a software developer, you must drink copious amounts of Mountain Dew. Granted, my boss often drinks it for breakfast, and one of the guys just admitted “my blood is half Mountain Dew.” But according to an informal poll I just conducted, only about half the programmers in the office actually even drink it. Another guy said, “No, it’s horrible.” That was a direct quote.
I know, I wouldn’t have believed it either. Especially the way our fridge empties. But there you have it.
When they’re not coding, they’re playing video games.
I mean, this isn’t wholly untrue. When you have people who are interested enough in technology that they create it for a living, it makes sense that their hobbies would include things related to technology—i.e. video games. And you do have the occasional developer who spends most of his free time with a controller in hand.
But plenty of programmers, the young ones included, prefer (or at least engage in) other activities. More than one of our developers enjoy woodworking. Another can often be found camping. One of our RoboSource programmers has actually hiked the Appalachian Trail. Well-rounded might be a more fair description.
Let’s just get something out of the way here. There are shy people, and then there are introverted people. They aren’t the same. Shy people can be introverted, but introverted people are not automatically shy. We have a lot of introverts in our office, but we don’t have many shy people. Introverts get their energy from being alone. If they’ve had a long day or a lot of people time, they might need some time to themselves. But when there’s a party, let me tell you, our mostly-introverted office moonwalks with the best of them.
Either the stereotypes aren’t quite as true as we thought, or, well, I guess that’s the only option…