Over the last week or so Facebook announced a security vulnerability that exposed the data of 50 million users, the UK Conservative Party’s conference app proved embarrassingly insecure, and a few big banks – notably RBS, HSBC and TSB – experienced glitches with online or mobile banking. Lots of media chatter ensued, as is the norm, but the Badger just sighed! Individuals somewhere, in whatever organisation, would ultimately get the blame, and those people would probably be IT techies, engineers, or technically biased managers. At least that was the Badger’s first thought. Subsequent thoughts were more philosophical. Why don’t IT techies and engineers, who work exceptionally hard to make our daily lives function, get the recognition they deserve, and why is it that we tend to hear more blame-oriented comment when difficulties arise than praise when good things happen?
The Badger mused on this over a cup of strong coffee in the autumn sunshine but came to no conclusions. Then, completely by chance while browsing different subject matter relevant to the Badger’s non-IT engineering roots, the wise words of Professor Eann Patterson, a Professor at the UK’s University of Liverpool, hit the spot! The Badger isn’t repeating the Professor’s words here because you can read two of his short blog entries for yourself at ‘Making things happen’ and ‘Happenstance, not engineering’. As with much in human society, it seems that it’s the way our brains are wired that explains why we blame more than we praise. Just a few sentences in the Professor’s ‘Happenstance, not engineering’ blog entry explains this very simply.
The Badger feels we should all be aware of this unconscious bias and that we should therefore adapt our behaviours appropriately. The Badger also feels that those in leadership roles should reinforce efforts to ensure that a more positive recognition of the techies, engineers and managers in the IT industry appears in the mass media. After all, it’s our IT techies, engineers and managers that make modern society and the fabric of daily life work. Attracting a steady stream of new technical and engineering talent – people with a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) background – into diverse IT careers is essential if the functioning of modern society is to continue reliably. When the Badger joined the IT industry, technical and engineering skills were highly valued. Is that the case today? You’ll no doubt have your own view on the answer. The Badger, however, thinks it is time for a ‘resurgence of the techie’ and for more recognition of the hard work techies do behind the scenes to keep the fabric of daily life working.