The 10 Most Common Misconceptions About Engineers
As with any other profession, there are certain stereotypes and myths inherent to the engineering field. Most people perceive engineers in an entirely one-dimensional way, associating certain personality traits (or lack thereof) with them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are quite a few misconceptions on what engineers are or are not, but let’s look at the 10 Most Common Myths About Engineers.
1. They have no social skills
People are often inclined to believe that engineers are socially-awkward and geeky, preferring to spend hours on end indoors on their computers rather than socializing with other people. Beloved characters from popular TV shows like The Big Bang Theory only make this stereotype stick, but this is not the case. As with any other professional field – there are both introverts and extroverts, and you can’t tell an engineer by the cover of their chosen work field.
2. They love to ‘fix’ everything
Sadly, another popular misconception that we have Hollywood to thank for, and that has single-handedly fuelled a lot of unhealthy relationship dynamics. Friends, family and even partners love to view an engineer as a walking encyclopaedia for diagnosis of everything that is wrong with their technology around the house and this can get tiring pretty quickly. It’s strange that no one asks doctors for free exams at family gatherings, but expecting electrical consultation somehow doesn’t seem like a big deal.
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3. They are not ‘creative’
It only seems logical. If they were – they would have gone into Fine Arts, right? Wrong… Artistic people can still find an outlet for their creativity in the field of engineering. In fact, in many ways – even more so than if they had pursued a different career. Being an engineer is all about achieving a careful balance between logic, critical thinking, creativity, attention to detail and a passion for change.
4. Their work is boring
Similarly to the lack of creativity myth – it is easy to shun engineering for its repetitiveness and uniformity. But those are inherent to physics, chemistry and math and no one even dares call them boring! Engineers are problem-solvers and thinkers by default and their work is to test the limits of what we perceive as technologically possible, so that’s the furthest from boring as you’ll ever get.
5. They love math
Not necessarily. Just because engineers need to be good at math doesn’t mean they’re thrilled about it. There is a host of other professions, where you simply need to enthusiastically apply your energy toward a task you find undesirable and engineering is no exception. At the end of the day, they enjoy the journey, not the subject.
6. They have poor communication skills
Communication is the most important factor in today's world and engineers don’t live isolated from the rest of society. In fact, they often attend conferences and work in teams to share ideas, brainstorm, innovate, create products, and much more!
7. They have limited interests
Over many years, the image of an engineer has somehow become the very definition of a ‘geek’ or the less flattering ‘nerd’. Because their work involves a high degree of concentration, commitment and attention to detail – it’s only logical they fully immerse themselves in it. But engineers are people too and have varying interests and outlets that add value and happiness to their lives.
8. They work in a predominantly male field
Whilst this has certainly been true in the past, it is slowly changing. More and more women are going into the STEM sector and they’re bringing to the profession an influx of fresh ideas and a different perspective on problem-solving and creativity. Check out our list of institutions advancing women in engineering for more on this.
9. They don’t start work until their 30s
Engineering school is difficult and requires commitment of a considerable amount of time and effort, but it’s not as rigid as most people would think. There are many part-time and online post-graduate degrees and programs that allow engineers to continue their education while working, so the options are quite varied.
10. They’re confined to one job and one location
Many people think that the skills engineers acquire are not transferable on an international level, but this actually applies more to lawyers. Engineering consists of a set of standardized principles and universal laws and correlations, and many countries welcome foreign engineers to fill skilled migrant numbers, so moving and living abroad can actually be easier if you’re an engineer.