If you’ve been thinking about starting a career in technology, you’ve probably wondered how true tech stereotypes are.
Is it hard for women to break into technology? Is the field boring and restricted office?
Media images and public discussions based on stereotypes have led to harmful misconceptions about technology. These misconceptions form a barrier between technology and the people who can change it.
The tech industry is booming with new and exciting voices that challenge preconceptions. The influx of students and professionals who truly understand technology as vital and inclusive helps dispel and rewrite common technology myths.
Read on to learn how some common misconceptions about working in technology conflict with the reality of the tech industry, according to tech veterans.
Common myths about working in technology are debunked
Negative stereotypes about technology can deter people who might make valuable contributions.
Common technology myths have caused the public to view computer science jobs as antisocial, isolated, limited in the office and completely male-dominated. The truth is more complicated than that.
Two seasoned tech experts, CEO Victoria Mendoza and educator Sarah Lane, join us to review common beliefs about technology. While it is true that the tech industry still faces challenges in representing women and people of color, technology is a vibrant career field.
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Technology is just a ‘big boys club’
Women in STEM fields may lament that technology still feels like a “big boys club.” There is some truth to this belief, as men are overwhelmingly represented in IT jobs. However, according to Mendoza, women are claiming a space in the tech industry:
Many people see tech companies as a “big boys club”. Well, it still is for the most part – but at least women are now pushing the barriers and making themselves available to take on managerial positions that are often dominated by men.
Working in technology is actually a woman’s world as well, as we see many skilled women involved in web and application development, data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies.
Women are slowly demanding their fair share in the tech job market rather than being sidelined in positions such as project management, creativity, design and administrative work.
At the end of the day, a tech career means how you present yourself and how you put something on the table so that people in the industry give you the same respect and importance.
Diversity in technology continues to lag. But women who are looking for the right employers can find challenging and high-paying opportunities in the technology field.
The gender gap has been closed
Men still far outnumber women in technology. As of 2021, only 26% of the computing workforce in the United States identified as female.
This has resulted in hiring bias and the delegation of responsibility and compensation. Female tech professionals shouldn’t look at the industry through pink lenses.
To be honest about it, I was pretty much a perfectionist about the tech industry early in my career.
Coming from a sales and marketing background, I believed the industry had advanced in terms of opportunities for all genders from the man’s world. But now, I see women still struggling to make their presence known.
As a Hispanic woman, minorities like myself still make up a small percentage of this vast industry.
I assumed that if I worked hard and learned my trade, my hard work would be recognized. Unfortunately, as a woman in technology, I am often overlooked or rejected. I was once mistaken for a colleague’s wife when I attended a tech conference!
The bias is that women are not technical. But some of the best technical people I’ve worked with have been women.
There is a lot of work to be done in this area.
– Sarah Lynn
Due to the prevalence of gender bias, women are still ignored and rejected in the tech industry. Ethnic minorities – including minority women – are also underrepresented. About 13% of Americans are black, but blacks held only 7% of computer-related jobs in 2021.
Women still struggle with the systemic bias they face in STEM professions, despite historically being among the biggest innovators in technology.
Comes with regular business hours
Some newcomers to technology may assume that tech jobs always feature a central office location and a 9-5 work schedule. They may be surprised to learn that many tech jobs are quite remote and allow workers flexibility.
When I first got started in technology, I thought it was a desk job, it would be a 9 to 5 job with no work on the weekends. How is this not true. It’s a job that can be 24/7, 365 days a year. I worked weekends, had to work at 3 am as it was when the maintenance window was up, and I was on call.
– Sarah Lynn
Blame movies like Office Space for perpetuating the stereotype of tech workers crammed into cubicles as a rule.
Depending on the role, tech workers may be able to set their own hours—or they may experience long workdays and weekends on demand. They may work in an office or adopt the digital nomad lifestyle.
Your company or office is the center of the universe
Some technical majors enter the industry without realizing that their work will bring them into contact with other cultures or viewpoints.
However, a few years of work will show you that the world of technology extends far beyond your desk.
How global it is – I never thought about that when I started in tech. The technology is the same all over the world.
It has enabled me to make friends with people from all over the world. I have also been fortunate enough to be able to travel around the world. I’ve been to the US, South Africa, Belgium, Denmark, Norway… No one told me technology was a job I could do and see the world.
– Sarah Lynn
If you’re worried that a tech career will limit you, never fear! Working in the tech industry may allow you to travel, meet interesting people, and experience new cultures.
It’s about technology, not people
Most technical jobs require prolonged solo work breaks. But people in computer science jobs benefit from social skills. Being a successful technical professional requires that you cooperate, accept constructive criticism, and provide mentorship to those around you.
I didn’t realize how much IT would help introduce me to so many different people and departments.
I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many different people, from CEOs to payroll clerks. Each has their own story to tell about how important their tech job is. As IT experts, knowledge of technology is important. But it is also important to understand people and how they use technology. Don’t forget to build those relationships.
– Sarah Lynn
The myth that technology is about technology comes from a misconception about what drives technology. People drive technology, not technology. Technology is only as smart as the people who direct it, and good technology stems from the spirit of collaboration.
You must have all the answers
Newcomers to technology sometimes feel insecure about their level of proficiency. The most experienced engineers, programmers, and managers seem to have all the answers. But this is not the case at all.
Even the most experienced professionals don’t know all the answers.
Many people assume that you need to know everything, and if you don’t, you are not on the same level as your peers. I have yet to meet anyone who knows everything. We all have our specialties or areas where we excel, but no one really knows them.
There is nothing wrong with using search engines, forums, or asking for help. We need to get it right to ask for help.
– Sarah Lynn
Pop culture stereotypes the know-it-all, reclusive tech professional. Experienced people really know that even the best have gaps in experience.
Success in technology is continuous learning rather than needing all the answers.
The most common myths about technology have painted a picture of the field as restricted, exclusive, and impossible to master. These concepts do not reflect the full reality of the field.
Not only has the technology industry become more inclusive in recent years, but the general view of technology has changed to resemble the global human discipline that it really is.
If you’re hoping to work in technology and want to help make it more equitable for people of all races, races, and cultures, consider joining or supporting one of these organizations for diversity and inclusion in technology:
Victoria Mendoza is CEO of MediaPeanut, a media and technology website dedicated to helping consumers understand complex technology concepts. As the CEO, she is responsible for managing all aspects of the business.
Victoria has a proven track record in executive management and over six years of experience driving sales growth in the technology industry. Prior to joining MediaPeanut, Victoria was Head of Marketing and Executive Vice President of Sales at GetitGirlTime, responsible for all global sales and marketing activities.
With a diverse career spanning over 15 years, Sarah Lean has been a part of every aspect of the IT world. Sarah is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a former Microsoft employee.
Sarah is proud to give back to her community. As a STEM ambassador, Sarah helps others learn how information technology affects and changes their lives for the better. She enjoys teaching the next generation of young women how they too can advance in a male-oriented field and succeed in their careers.
In 2017, Sarah founded the Glasgow Azure User Group, a bimonthly community meeting to network and discuss the latest technology.
Sarah’s enthusiasm for technology has allowed her to speak at public events, most notably Microsoft Ignite.
This article has been reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico
In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with a BA in Computer Science, which gave her the foundation she needed to excel in roles such as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science educator.
Monali is currently working as a data engineer at Mission Lane. As the data analytics leader for a nonprofit organization called COOP Careers, Monali helps recent graduates and young professionals to overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and guiding them on their professional development journey.
Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating young people. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.
Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the independent review network Red Ventures Education.
Last revised March 22, 2022.