From womens perspective on Network Engineers

Ever since I can remember, I spent all my childhood next to boys, also in primary school I mostly liked to be in boys groups and not girls, and I think it’s natural that I choose education which is not typical for women – A Telecommunications Technician.

All my working years I have spent next to technical profession representatives – starting from database admins to field engineers and others, but mostly, I would like highlight network engineers. 

Router-switch GURU – this if first expression which one I can attribute to network engineer, his or her own language which for others sound like crumb alphabet and of a totally different mind-set. This time I want to dig deeper and come to a conclusion as to what a network engineer is, what she or he “eats” or how we like to say- “What’s in Teddys tummy “and find out which of the  many stereotypes are real when we talk about Network Engineers?

I do believe that the first impression about person whos called  a Network Engineer is that this person is quite boring,  a bit dorky, all interests revolve around network technologies, maybe even have obsession in them, and actually, from one side it is commendable. From the physical side, poorly developed, with glasses and very likely looking for reasons to avoid sports and other activities, instead, they prefer to read a different tech articles and play a computer games. These are the first (and most common) stereotypes. 

From childhood our parents have “programmed” us for our daily habits, some of us are not eating breakfast, because as children we saw that our parents are not doing this, or for example, my father really like to eat bread with jam and drink milk during evenings, I used to do this as well. In some kind of way parents drive us to what we will be in future, if you go to choir at primary school, most likely, it will be a hobby when you will grow up, you will enjoy singing. You know what? Habits are very easy to break or adjust.

If we check deeper into the stereotype of a Network Engineer, we could agree that this stereotype is stuck with typical engineer habits. Of course, I cannot say that all habits are gone, but I do believe that they are changed. If we analyze the expression about the physical side and possibility to avoid activities- You do not have to be Network Engineer to be lazy and demotivated from doing them.

Mostly this stereotype comes from part  truth- sure, that Network Engineer highlight of his or her day leads next to a computer reading manuals, programming and coding switches, routers  and other network equipment, sometimes even eating beside a  working station, because they are too busy.

Compare a profession such as Accountants- if these professionals also lead almost of their time next to computer dealing with high volumes of data, then, why does no one don’t say that accountants are lazy and are avoiding activities? There are no differences in relation to the profession you are in, but there is a difference in attitude towards yourself, and if you will stuck with habits to make you  prove that this stereotype is real. If however you are prepared to change and break them, you will be able to laugh about it. Of course, there are many exceptions, but there is no  right or wrong way, there is only the way to better you.

Glasses are not sign that you are a dork, this as a sign that you do care about your health. Some of people should wear glasses due to health problems; some of people wear them preventatively to avoid these health problems, but some especially now days wear them without any medical reason, only because it is stylish. Why is an assumption formed that we can attribute to wearing glasses to engineers? Well yes, if lead a large part of day,  next to a PC and maybe at home next a TV, or other blue screens, your eyes will get tired and that is why many people  preventatively wear glasses to avoid deeper health problems in the future. Again, same conclusion, there is no difference in your profession, but there are differences in your attitude to yourself.

Ok, we went through briefly, in my opinion, through the most common physical stereotypes about Network Engineers. But we left a very important issue  to discuss – The Network Engineer inner person. 

To start, we should go back to our primary school time. Do you remember? You were Einstein in math or newest Claude Monet in arts or maybe you were a walking Encyclopedia knowing all facts about history and geography? Well, all subjects were divided into two parts: humanities and exact sciences.  Not all people are not equally strong in both of these subjects; most of us are stronger in only one of these. People who are stronger are in humanities are mostly extravert persons, but those who are into exact sciences are mostly introvert persons. In which part  would you expect Network Engineers are stronger  and mostly developed? I think it easy to answer that these are the exact sciences and especially math. If you are stronger in exact sciences already in primary school I would like to say that there are a huge possibility that in the future you will chose your profession where you don’t have to work with people but rather where you have to work alone.

If go to the future, there I see “Downstream bond- Network Engineers” are stronger in exact sciences, which mean that these people are more introvert than extravert persons, which is absolutely true. When I remember one of the places where I worked, there was excellent example, of a Network Engineer, he really loved working at nights, and not because of maintenance works, because then he was able to work alone in server areas without any interruptions. When there were situations when the network was down or any huge problems with it, nobody  wanted to call him to ask what was happening, because he always had his own crumb alphabet which one nobody understood, and after this, calls we had more misunderstandings regarding problem than understanding regarding it. There are lots of examples I could relate, but no matter  how many of these stories I will tell- all these have one core  characteristic,  that network engineers, actually on the whole, introverts, with  a different mind-set, expression, as well as the type and sequence of actions. There is nothing wrong with it, or something to hide, because all people have their own oddities.

But how about personality traits?  I think to be great Network Engineer; students must have some important traits such as patience and stress resistance, because sometimes there are situations when the engineer should start a job over and over again from the beginning, because something may not be working, and there may be a lot of mouths which are asking when it will be ready? Also, I would like to say that that person should be creative and full of ideas for backups, because sometimes there is not only one way to fix issues and come to the best solution. Of course, this person should be knowledgeable and with a desire to learn, as the IT industry is growing and evolving fast, engineers should adapt and learn with it.

A subject, which left is very deep and wide, I will look at briefly: Women in IT. There are no doubt  that this is a  very controversial theme, but if women have the same knowledge and interests in this industry, there are no any doubts that they will be good if not better than some good men, who maybe acting knowledgeable and interested in the field.

I do believe, if there would be an experiment, where women and men do the same job without knowing gender, they both would do this job just as well. With this, I wanted to say, do not rate people by gender, I rate them by the jobs they do or not.

Finally, I would like to say that the kind of people we will become depends on what we were in our childhood. Habits and physical traits are very easy to adjust and break as mentioned before, only need to want and try to do so. However, most importantly what I wanted to say with all these thoughts is that is there is no difference in what kind of profession you are in, there always will be stereotypes regarding it. Only you know if there are real or not. For others I would like to say that do not judge people by the cover, I judge them by their achievements. J



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