No matter your race, religion, gender, or profession, you probably face stereotypes on just about every given day. Even in the year of 2016 we see equality issues of all types come across the television screen during TV shows, Presidential Debates and the local news almost daily.
The S.T.E.M. Industry is no stranger to its own set of Stereotypes. S.T.E.M. is an acronym that stands for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields. The biggest stereotype facing this group of individuals is truthfully the term Geek or Nerd. The three most common stereotypes for the Digital Marketing Industry would be:
It’s a Male only industry
Crazy Fashion Sense
Unlike many of the S.T.E.M. fields, Digital Marketers have done a great job shedding that “Geek” façade and allowed internet marketing to become Cool. Individuals from all backgrounds and all walks of life are finding careers in Digital Marketing. However, there is an overwhelming stereotype that states that it is a profession meant mostly for males. Due to this stereotype, women do find it hard to break into this industry. A lot of that difficulty is due to fear. The fear of not being accepted, the fear of not being good enough and the fear of not being as qualified as a male counterpart. Since this exists, the field is definitely dominated by the male gender. However, women are pushing hard to change the statistics.
We could list several reasons why women make great employees in the tech industry but that would just be feeding into other stereotypes like women being more creative and women caring more about clients or the outcome of a project. We don’t want to do that. What we do want to say is that the S.T.E.M. fields are actually very accepting of female employees and we encourage all women to help break the stereotype by “being what is not expected.”
A great article can be found on themuse that can shed some light on what is happening with women in the workforce. A staggering 56% of individuals holding professional jobs in the U.S. are women. Also, did you know that women now hold more Bachelors and Graduate degrees than men?
Now before you say this article is about women empowerment, it is not. The second most common stereotype we see in our industry, specifically here at 1SEO.com Digital Agency is that Digital Markers, specifically coders and developers, have difficulty communicating. Speaking from experience, there are most certainly times where a coder can speak way over my head. However, the difficulty in communicating really lies within me not asking them to tone down the code talk and speak in layman’s terms. Techies are super passionate about their industry and at times they can most certainly speak over the heads of those not as well versed.
In order to find out if this issue really existed, we spoke with and surveyed a large portion of our client base and we have found that clients and business owners prefer to speak directly with the expert. They feel there is no difficulty in that communication at all, and our team of experts enjoy relaying their work to the client and getting the instant feedback that only continues to improve their performance.
So while we understand why the stereotype exists, we again encourage men and women in the tech field to “do what is not expected.” Don’t be afraid to share your expertise and allow people to see a glimpse into your world by breaking down the perceived communication barriers and sharing your craft.
Let’s address that pesky topic of “what to wear.” Believe it or not, this is actually a big issue. Although there is a stereotype that techies tend to have colored hair, tattoos, and facial piercings along with a wardrobe dawned with skinny jeans, work boots and concert t-shirts, the “what to wear” is actually a generational dilemma.
First, let’s talk about the style of a techie. There is some truth to the fact that many in the S.T.E.M fields are very creative and even quite introverted due to that creativity. Therefore, you definitely see some outward expression in their fashion sense. To the defense of those who do happen to have a vibrant and fun style, they are typically coming from free-lance gigs in which dress code has never posed an issue for them.
Let’s get real though, how much does it matter? In the image above you see the same candidate in three different outfits. Do his outfits hinder him from doing his job? I guess that answer truly depends on the job at hand, the company voice, and message that each employer is entitled to.
However, keep it mind, if you have a dress code, the candidates should be made aware of it prior to a face to face interview. This gives them two options:
Dress to meet the code
Dress to express oneself
You don’t want to judge a candidate on their appearance simply because it has nothing to do with their talent or skill or expertise in digital marketing or web design. Being overdressed or underdressed can and has happened to so many of us. Have you ever showed up to a networking event in a suit and tie only to find out that everyone is kicking back a few cold ones in their jeans and t-shirts? Are you less qualified to be at that networking event? No of course not, you were just not privy to the dress code for the event.
Individuals have the right to be individuals, that is something that should always be true no matter the environment. As long as a dress code is spelled out clearly, I think you will find that Digital Marketers, just like any other employee will either conform to that request or choose to find something more suitable to them.
I haven’t attempted to really debunk any of the stereotypes but more explain how and why they exist. Unfortunately, most stereotypes exist because there is a level of truth to them. Women make up a much smaller percentage of the S.T.E.M. Industry for various reasons, therefore the industry is quite dominated by the male gender. Coders and Developers can have a vernacular that is very rich in jargon that isn’t used by non-tech professionals, therefore, at times, they can be difficult to understand unless you ask them to explain it in a lighter fashion. Lastly, fashion and dress style is an outward expression of creativity and individuality. With the majority of people in the tech industry, specifically coders and developers getting their start as freelancers, it is quite natural to see them in a much trendier or casual dress unless requested otherwise.
Don’t feed into stereotypes. While they may exist for a reason, I encourage you to think outside of them. If you are an S.T.E.M professional or if you are interested in the S.T.E.M fields, embrace your creative and technical skill set and market yourself as the incredible professional that you wish to be. “Do what is not expected,” own your field and build a solid career on your expertise and passion. Don’t let stereotypes hold you back or keep you from reaching your personal and professional goals.