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Computer Geeks As Loners? Data Says Otherwise 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-what-day-it-is dept.
Computerworld reports on an analysis of census data to compare marriage rates for different professions. They found the rate for tech workers to be similar to that of other white-collar professions, and significantly higher than the rate for the general population. 62.1% of people with IT jobs are married, as are 56.5% of scientists and 65.5% of engineers. This compares well to people in legal professions (62.0%), medical jobs (61.3%), and finance (62.4%). 51% of the adult U.S. population was married as of the 2010 census. Tech workers do have a slightly higher percentage of people who have never married — 26.7% of IT workers and 31.9% of scientists — but they also have slightly fewer divorces.
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Computer Geeks As Loners? Data Says Otherwise

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  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:30PM (#46250303)

    I think the study might have some merit, but only because the definition of geek has changed a lot.

    I got into computers in the early 80s as a very young kid. By the time I really got involved with a "geek" social scene, there was a mix of people. Before that, computers were most definitely nerd toys -- there were very few "typical" folks who gravitated toward them. Even so, I've worked with people who want nothing to do with computers once they are off the clock, people who have a healthy level of hobby involvement with computers, hardcore gamers, and extremely hardcore "computer nerds" -- mom's basement types. The first group are the most likely to be in a stable relationship from my experience. I'm happily married with 2 kiddos, and I put myself in the "healthy level of hobby involvement" camp. It's surprisingly hard to find time to do anything these days with 2 young kids. You certainly won't see me playing video games for 10 hours at a clip anymore...I used to do that back in the day though.

    I do have anecdotal evidence from my dealings with "tech workers" that divorces are very common. Lots of people I work with are on Wife #2 or more. I think a lot of that might be the crazy amount of time that work and computer hobbies can suck out of your life -- you really have to be matched up with someone who will either tolerate it or is a "geek" themselves and understands. And like I said, once kids come along, I can see huge problems if you decide to disappear for hours on end and expect your partner to just handle the kids. If you work an IT job for one of the crappier employers out there that demands on-call duty and tons of hours a week, only the shallowest of spouses will stick around and only if you make good money to make up for you not being there.

    My other piece of strictly anecdotal evidence is the prevalence of...non-traditional...relationships among the geekier set. One US-born guy I worked with was divorced and constantly trying to bring his girlfriend from China to the US -- no clue how they met. Lots have girlfriends they met online. Others have had obvious mail-order brides. That could sound a little stereotypical, but I've seen LOTS of guy's wives who barely speak English and look like they're pretty much there to cook and clean for them. Maybe I'm just working with the wrong sorts, but that's a very common theme in my experience.

    Non-traditionals aside, I think a lot of the evidence the study cites is just because computers are now a normal part of our lives. Anyone can be a Facebook user. Smartphones are designed to be used by non-techies. There are plenty of "IT" jobs that don't involve hardcore coding or systems/analysis work. My job borders on the nerdy side, but only because I make it that way.

    I think that if you actually do find the right person, and that person is less of a geek than you are, it balances you out. My wife is incredibly smart, but not obsessed with computers and tinkering the way I am. (She's a finance geek.) If you find someone who's just there for the money or has absolutely no interest in what you do, that's where the divorces and bitterness creep in. I'm almost at 15 years married -- and she hasn't tossed me out yet!

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"