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Discussion on: We need representatives! (syndicates, agents ...)

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Michael Kohl

So while I agree with the overall gist of what you're writing here, there's one bit that really rubs me the wrong way: "We ... the technical people ... are usually introverts, we don't have any strong soft skill" – Can we finally put this stereotype to rest please? I've been coding for ~25 years now, across a variety of languages. I was and am still active in several FOSS communities/user groups and attend conferences fairly regularly, both as attendee as well as speaker. I have yet to see any evidence that software developers on average are significantly different from other groups when it comes to psychological traits.

Situations like job interviews are hard for introverts in any profession, but to be fair they are not always great for extroverts either, because as you rightfully pointed out they sometimes seem like the deck's stacked against you.

As Dian pointed out in her answer, the crux here is communication. In the team I manage I make sure to give people different options in how they want to communicate (face to face, email, slack, through tickets etc), so there should be a way for everyone to express themselves in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Conflating poor communication skills with introversion is not helpful for either group, since it stereotypes one half while giving the other an excuse.

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Michael Kohl • Edited on

And before anyone takes this discussion sideways by assuming I'm an extrovert, I'm not. I can be extroverted when I have to or want to be, but generally I'm comfortable being by myself and just doing my thing. There's plenty of other stuff I could add to that, but it's getting a bit private so you'd have to buy me dinner first :-p

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Adrian B.G. Author

Yes, I exaggerated on purpose of course, I was preparing my election speech :)).

But ... I think you are biased, if you go to conferences and social gatherings you see the developers that "pass" a certain threshold of ... don't know the term, I call it "they hatched". From my experience these devs are not representative (in my small circles are < 15%), hopefully I'm wrong and in a few years I will contradict myself (by meeting a lot more devs).

I cannot not put this stereotype to rest unfortunately, most of the technical people I know they are introverts, they do not want to engage with others and so they do not care/or "train" their communication skills. They do however communicate very well in their teams, but that is it, nothing outside of their comfort zone. Only the minimal interaction to do their jobs.

I haven't properly studied this area of physiology (yet), but I'm pretty sure a "lot" of devs are attracted by this job specially because they have to deal more with "machines" and less with "people".

Now I noticed the opposite too, once "they hatch", and meet other peers, they change their behavior at 180 degrees, they speak about their work with passion, they start to involve in projects.

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Michael Kohl • Edited on

You're of course entitled to your opinions, including the one about my bias. :-)

Let's go on a slight tangent for the sake of argument though: another common stereotype about people in software is that their rates of depression are above average (disclaimer: I've been diagnosed with dysthymia/chronic depression and had treatments for it in the past, so this one hits closer to home than the introvert/extrovert debate). Yet studies by public health authorities didn't confirm this and in some cases the numbers were actually even below the population average:

oas.samhsa.gov/2k7/depression/occu...
hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr168.pdf

I'm not saying you're guilty of this, but confirmation bias is real and strong: if someone already believes that most developers are introverts, everyone who meets the criteria will reaffirm their bias, while extroverted developers will be written off as exceptions. Researchers estimate that roughly half to three quarters of people are extroverted, so that number being < 15% in software developers would be so significantly different that there'd be studies all over the place.