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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 some old guy (674482) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:47PM (#46248427)

    65.5%! We win!

    • by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:49PM (#46248439) Homepage

      I guess... if marriage is 'winning'.

      • Sure... In the same way that "paying taxes" counts as a "perk" of civilization. You realize that getting married means you get to pay MORE in taxes, right?

        / Not married.
        // Plan to stay that way.
        /// With the same woman for 20 years, and no plans to upgrade.
        //// Fix the damned CSS on Slashdot "Classic", Dice!
        • by AK Marc (707885)

          You realize that getting married means you get to pay MORE in taxes, right?

          Nope. Dropped my taxes.

          • by pla (258480)
            Offhand, I can think of only one situation that makes that possible - One of you makes a good amount of money, and one doesn't work.

            Because if you both make around the same amount, stock up on lube. And by "around the same amount", well, during a bout of unemployment a few years ago, with my SO making six figures and me "making" $350 a week as a waste of flesh, we STILL would have lost money if we had filed as married.

            Though in fairness, we own a house together, which makes a big difference - She can c
            • by AK Marc (707885)

              And by "around the same amount", well, during a bout of unemployment a few years ago, with my SO making six figures and me "making" $350 a week as a waste of flesh, we STILL would have lost money if we had filed as married.

              That sounds implausible. Aside from the different standard deductions, She'd have been in the 28% bracket singly, or 25% bracket married. It wasn't until my wife made more than 50% of what I did where it kicked in being cheaper to be single than married. But then, much of "our" things were in only one name, so we didn't have much wiggle room in assigning deductions and such.

              The first year I was married, I paid less than 10% federal income tax, and less than 20% total tax (including all state and local t

          • You realize that getting married means you get to pay MORE in taxes, right?

            Nope. Dropped my taxes.

            I have three kids. I haven't paid taxes in 9 years. The year we bought our house we actually got a refund of $12,000 from all the tax credits we qualified for.

          • Your income tax drops. However you tend to buy more stuff, so you are paying more in sales tax.

            The biggest problem with money when you get married, is that your partner will have different things that they like to splurge on and things that they are willing to do without.

            You may want to go see the new movie, while she thinks spending money on movies are too much money. While you can go without that new Apple Product while for her it is a must have. Normally what happens is you see the Movie and Get the Ap

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Absolutely backwards, the "marriage penalty" is a carefully crafted lie. The fact is, a childless married couple pays less than a widow with a child who earns the same amount of money. Yeah, if all three of those adults earn the same amount of money the married couple will pay almost twice as much in taxes, but that's because they're earning twice as much.

          I guess YMMV in other parts of the world, but in the US singles are taxed at a higher rate.

      • The only way to win is not to play.

      • I guess... if marriage is 'winning'.

        It is for me. 21 years and counting. Very happy.

    • by gnick (1211984) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:56PM (#46248527) Homepage

      I'm an engineer - And I'm married for the second time! Do I count double?

      • by davester666 (731373) on Friday February 14, 2014 @02:21PM (#46248799) Journal

        No. 2 demerits for not learning from your first mistake.

      • I'm an engineer - And I'm married for the second time!

        That makes you an exception. Divorce rates vary widely [lexfridman.com] by profession. In America, 50% of marriages end in divorce. For engineers it is only about 10%. Education makes a big difference: college graduates have far lower divorce rates than high school drop outs. It also varies widely with race: 45% of white-white marriages end in divorce. 70% of black-black marriages do. The odds may be against you, because 75% of all second marriages end in divorce, although only 50% of third marriages do.

        • It also varies widely with race: 45% of white-white marriages end in divorce. 70% of black-black marriages do.

          This makes me curious to know what the percentage is for interracial marriages.

          • by gnick (1211984)

            I'm in one. White-white lasted ~12 years. White-Asian is ongoing.

          • This makes me curious to know what the percentage is for interracial marriages.

            White man - black women couples have divorce rates lower than white couples. Black man - white woman marriages have high divorce rates, similar to black couples. White man - Asian woman couples have a divorce rate about 4% higher than white couples. White wife - Asian man couples have high divorce rate.

            More info here [wikipedia.org].

            • Interesting... so a white engineer marrying a black woman has approximately the lowest chance of divorce of any demographic permutation you could enumerate.

        • I wonder how that third marriage statistic changes if you eliminate those that started when at least one of the participants were elderly.
      • by goombah99 (560566)

        I'm an engineer - And I'm married for the second time! Do I count double?

        Are you just saying you switched hands?

    • by erice (13380)

      US Engineers are older though so it makes sense that more would be married. It is a commonly quoted statistic with the IEEE but perhaps not well known elsewhere that their membership is getting older 1 year per year. The same is not true in China and India.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:49PM (#46248443)

    We are normal human beings like the rest of the world.

  • Computer Geeks? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:52PM (#46248469) Homepage

    the rate for tech workers to be similar to that of other white-collar professions

    So that's "tech workers", not computer geeks. Even if you accept the idea that "computer geek" is a meaningful classification, it's no longer the case that only computer geeks work with computers. Tech workers have profiles similar to other white-collar professionals because "tech work' are just white collar professions.

    • I don't think just working with tech makes you a "tech worker." Working on tech does. But you're right about it not being computer geeks. The people I work with aren't really nerdy, like you say, and most of them are women. Can't forget that it's not just guys in IT anymore.
  • by ebunga (95613) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:52PM (#46248473) Homepage

    Just what I needed to read on singles shaming day.

  • I'm just a rarity!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just me and Jim Beam.
  • It's encouraging that a higher than average number of IT workers are married but a higher percentage also have never married because I interpret that to mean IT folks don't just commit, but they stay married too. (I am by profession in IT and I know I am completely committed to my wife and that it's reciprocal, but of course I'm just one person.) There's the term "geek chic" which I guess means nerds are more attractive than they used to be, and I guess that in the end "nice guy syndrome" works to our advantage.
    • I guess that in the end "nice guy syndrome" works to our advantage.

      Wait... What?! I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      and I guess that in the end "nice guy syndrome" works to our advantage.

      LOL .. do you read Slashdot at all?

      Because I would say most of us are suffering from "asshole syndrome" instead of "nice guy syndrome".

      Curmudgeon seems more common than courteous -- and, yes, I am told I mostly fall into the former category.

      • LOL .. do you read Slashdot at all?

        Because I would say most of us are suffering from "asshole syndrome" instead of "nice guy syndrome".

        My original UID was in the 100,000s (I think, I seem to recall being disappointed it wasn't 5 digits). Anyway, the point is... I've read slashdot for a long time and most of the people here seem to fit the nerd stereotype pretty well and seems they still do, as long as you ignore the trolls and flamebait. The heated arguments here are always about data and empirical evidence and formal logic and the like. We don't really get passionate about everyday life, so I was basing my observations of nerds on people

        • The heated arguments here are always about data and empirical evidence and formal logic and the like.

          As long as the topic isn't politics, or religion, or global warming, or vi vs. emacs, or Microsoft, or Apple, or pretty much everything else, then, yes, you're right.

    • Geek chic is hipster bullshit. Tired of being poseurs without a genuine, they've taken to claiming geek and nerd without any real geekery or nerdity. Mostly they just wear hornrim glasses and other clothes geeks mostly don't to fit Hollywood stereotypes. They even bash and sneer at the real ones. The girls that aren't fashionably-pseudo-bi lesbians-or-asexuals are mostly Big Bang Theory and/or Harry Potter groupies who should be avoided at all costs, unless you want to be dictated to as a fashion accessory
    • An interesting stat (to me) would be average age of: first marriage, first child born, etc. The broad population statistics hide things like this.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      "Nerd" has changed definition. If someone was attractive in the 80s, they were not nerds, no matter how much Star Trek they watched or if they built their own computer from scratch. Ie, you were a nerd not because you watched Star Trek, but because you were a dork. Today things have morphed, and these "techies" really don't know anything about the technology, how it works, how to build their own, etc. But they call themselves nerds and the corporations encourage this, after all the more beautiful people

  • by AlphaBro (2809233) on Friday February 14, 2014 @01:58PM (#46248555)
    In fact, this is yet another symptom. Their crushing loneliness compels them to wife the first woman that gives them a chance. I've seen this pattern repeatedly throughout the course of my career. It makes work related social events even more unbearable, having to endure exposure to so many unhappy marriages and whatnot.
    • Their crushing loneliness compels them to wife the first woman that gives them a chance.

      Loneliness in nerds is usually self-inflicted because we choose to socialize remotely (Iike slashdot). I think the typical nerd doesn't "wife the first woman that gives them the chance", but that, unlike your average Joe, they don't typically pursue relationships that they know wouldn't work out. In other words, it's not just somebody who'll give a geek a chance, but somebody who actually loves them enough not to turn around and divorce them after a year. Maybe that "never married" statistic contains the lo

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        Lifetime: 0+, 1, 0, 0+, 0, 1, 0, 0+.

        I have to say I felt more alone when married than otherwise.

        [John]

    • Look closely into the relationships of your M.D. and Lawyer friends (if you don't have any, just be nosy about strangers...)

      They have plenty of relationship dysfunction too. Lots of doctors end up married (or committed to a life partner) young, and regret it later. Lawyers are all over the map, but I will say the ones that snag super-model type wives get what they deserve.

    • IDK, maybe it's just that I work at a mature company, but all but 1-2 of the tech geeks I know are happily married. Just comparing the marriages of my technical vs ops-type coworkers it's clear that the technical ones have an edge. That's data; for the money, my speculative opinion is that geeks select pretty hard on their relationships, and work hard to make them perfect and take joy in every little thing, as with so many other things in life. It fits with their personality. Second, they don't tend to have

  • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Friday February 14, 2014 @02:06PM (#46248647)

    A "computer geek" is a person who specializes in comptuers.

    A tech worker is someone who works in the computer field.

    Despite them being similar, they aren't the same. For example, call center tech support is filled with tech workers, but given the scripts and stuff they have, they don't have to specialize in the field.

    The computer geek accepts computers as a hobby. This is different than a tech worker, as they end up with a general lack of scripts and go directly into the free-form world.

    For this data analysis IT job categories were: IT managers, computer scientists, a broad range of IT analysts, as well as programmers, developers, support specialists, network and database administrators.

    And this is basically stuffing a wide variety of carrers into one "tech worker" category. Programmers may be in a less social environment (although this varies), tech support specialists may be in a social environment while feeling socially isolated, etc.

    • Accept tech worker, sheesh. It's not like all those engineers are actually driving locomotives or building circuit boards or drilling for oil or whatever it is all 'engineers' do.

      imo, if you're in tech, then the tech should be working, not you ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Data say," not "Data says." Unless, of course, you are writing TNG fanfic.
    • Good catch. The singular is actually "datum". Same thing with "medium", "media".
    • "Data say," not "Data says." Unless, of course, you are writing TNG fanfic.

      "Data" is treated as a non-quantifiable substance until you specifically quantify the individual points of data (a datum) or a specific collection.
      See "money" vs "dollars" vs "moneys".

    • It is accepted (for certain values of accepted, YMMV) to use "data" as a singular word. I see one of the definitions of "data" as a synonym for "information". I'm as much of a grammar pedant as they come, but even I don't say, "data say".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everyone claims to be a geek or nerd nowadays. Just like everyone thinks they are the smartest one in the room.

    Normal distribution fail.

    • Just like everyone thinks they are the smartest one in the room. ...and it really annoys those of us who really are!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and many "tech workers" are not computer geeks.

    I would agree that most tech workers are not loners, however I think an awful lot of loners are computer geeks. As a loner, I find computers to be a nice a hobby for someone that does not spend much time with other people.

  • 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.

    LOL, yeah, that about sums it up.

  • First take in this story [slashdot.org].

    Perhaps "a 100-person Mechanical Turk study with a $5 research budget" should be done here as well, then define "married" to be engaged in holy matrimony with an actual physical human being (of the opposite, same, or any of the genders defined by Facebook). Perhaps the questionnaire failed to mention "IRL" so they thought WoW counted, too.

  • In 2009, the median age at first marriage was 26 for women and 28 for men. Any job which requires significant education will have a higher average age than the general population, which probably explains the difference in marriage rates. This looks to be a simple average over job categories, which didn't account for that.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Friday February 14, 2014 @04:30PM (#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!

    • by ksheff (2406)
      I would agree that the "tech worker" classification used in this study includes a lot of people that wouldn't classify themselves as "computer geeks". I don't know any guys with "mail order" brides, but I know some that were probably arranged marriages. One guy in particular said his mom and sister sat him down and told him "look, you're over 35 and you haven't found a girlfriend yet, so we're going to find you a wife and that's the end of it".
  • by unimacs (597299) on Friday February 14, 2014 @04:33PM (#46250335)
    Went on a ski trip with about 10 people recently. One was a self-described loner who was married. You have to qualify the term "loner" to a certain extent. He was quite sociable and seemed to enjoy the trip, but it was a special event and not a group he hung out with on a regular basis.

    Anyway in the IT group here, everyone that I know of is either in a relationship or married. Included in this group is one of the most unsocial people I've ever met, - at least when it comes to work. But there are folks at the other end of the spectrum too. I picked the word "unsocial" because it isn't like he's rude or actively avoids people. He just doesn't participate in the common sorts of workplace social activities. No lunches. No going out for coffee. No happy hours. Even if it's an official company party, either at the office or someplace else, he won't be there.
    • by Nimey (114278)

      That guy you're talking about could be me. I don't socialize because it's tiring, because (despite being mid-30s and married) I just don't do people well and never have, although I'm not as bad as I once was. I tend to not get social cues and thus make more than my share of awkward situations, so it's easier for everyone just to not.

      Would that it were otherwise, sometimes, but here I stand. I can do no other.

      • by unimacs (597299)
        I'm an introvert so I understand how socializing can be tiring. Extroverts can have a hard time getting that. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy it, but like a nice bike ride, or playing a sport, it can be fun and tiring all at the same time. Eventually I need to rest, which means some time to myself.

        The ski weekend is a perfect example. Unless I can sneak off on my own once in awhile, a weekend in close quarters with a bunch of other people is about all I can handle.

        I used to see socializing as eit
  • I work as an engineer, and interact with many other engineers. Few of them completely fulfill the "awkward technophile" stereotype. Many of us do prefer small gatherings, finding large social gatherings exhausting. It may not be as exciting a meat-market, but it is still possible to find someone to marry at small gatherings.
  • How many are old farts and still virgin like me? I will be like The 40 Years Old Virgin [imdb.com] soon. :P

    • How many are old farts and still virgin like me? I will be like The 40 Years Old Virgin [imdb.com] soon. :P

      Past that one, 44 years and counting...

      I work doing IT support in a school, talking with students and teachers all day though I am definetly an introvert.

      I have no problems at social event - will happily go along - I don't need to be talky talky while there though.

      I'm incredibly shy when I want to talk relationship questions with a girl. I just can't bring it up, or ask them out...

  • I'm married and still a loner. In fact, I'm sitting here on Slashdot while my wife watches the Olympics.

  • Women want to marry "up." IT pros tend to make more money than the average schlub.

    Therefore a woman, upon discovering that a tolerably attractive man is an IT pro, is more interested than she would be otherwise.

    Now obviously the kooks, creeps, freaks, and autistic weirdos are excluded from this, but then they are excluded no matter what they do for a living.

    Used to be that women wanted to marry doctors and lawyers. Doctors they still do. Lawyers are toast as there are NO JOBS for law school graduates. P

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