Busting workplace stereotypes

We are always intrigued to know what someone does for a living. Work makes up a big part of our lives and so it’s interesting to know why someone took one path over all the endless possibilities out there. There is an overriding feeling that knowing what someone does gives us an insight into the sort of person they are.

But some career choices are associated with certain stereotypes and these aren’t usually too positive. Wherever these stereotypes have come from, they are far from representative today. So, let’s recognise the most afflicted job choices and bust the cliches!

workplace stereotypesScaffolders and builders

You know what they say about builders. They are crude Sun readers who spend the day wolf-whistling and catcalling any woman who walks past. They only eat fried food, pasties and Mars bars and they leave a trail of debris behind them. Lazy, they clock off early to head to the pub. – NOT TRUE

The truth is that these days any scaffolding or building firm needs to maintain a good reputation to survive. There are many platforms for public reviews and discussions and they won’t last long with these stereotypes of bad behavior. The range of projects these trades flit between and the different skills that are encompassed into a day mean that to do well, they have to work hard. Darren at City and Urban Scaffolding says, “I hate the thought that people are making assumptions when I say what I do. It’s not a fair reflection of how the industry is. Our team is a mixed bunch and they all show respect and work hard.”

It’s still a male dominated job, but the modern scaffolder/builder can be emotional, sensitive and fitness focussed. It pays to be creative and work well with other trades. People expect more these days, and people in the building trade are generally not what the stereotypes suggest.

Boring accountants

As the stereotypes say, accountants are profoundly boring. They were nerds at school and are just older number nerds now. They are solitary and can’t hold an interesting conversation and they are tight with their own money. This is why a dull, unvaried job suits them. – NOT TRUE

In reality, the scope of accountancy is immense, especially as business and technology get more complex. Accountants work in and for all industries and so have exposure and experience unlike many other careers. They are required to think creatively, communication carefully and collaborate across teams. So, yes – most accountants can communicate and socialise and even be witty. They are more likely to be out mountain biking than sitting at home counting their beans.

Angry chefs

The stereotypes have it that chefs are angry, hot-headed individuals who are rude and aggressive to their staff – and customers if they get close enough. They can’t take any kind of criticism, and will be furious if you return any food. Foul-mouthed, if you can’t take the heat, get out of their kitchen. – NOT TRUE

The kitchen is hot and the hours are long, so you need a passion for food. But many chefs thrive by staying cool under the pressure of peak service times. It’s a job where you have to work your way up and take all the feedback along the way. Being open-minded and approachable will help you to get the experiences you’ll need. Expletive ridden anger is not a pre-requisite. A good chef needs flair for both art and science but this can be combined with a chilled demeanour and a love of yoga. Yes, there are some chefs who have a bit of a shout but this is a largely outdated idea of what chefs are really like.

Head chef Osman Ali at Zari, a high end Indian restaurant in Crawley said, “Not every kitchen is a constant stress-zone. Each chef has a different style and temperament. Our kitchen is often busy, but there’s a good atmosphere.”

Conmen mechanics

Warning: You need your wits about you when you are going to have work on your car. The greasy dishonest mechanic will do anything to make an extra buck. They loosely check over safety issues and spend the majority of time looking for things they can claim need work. Then they’ll sting you for all they can. – NOT TRUE

Car mechanics are possibly the least trusted of all professions according to a survey. Cars are an expensive asset. Keeping them on maintained and on the road is a costly business that we all resent sometimes. This doesn’t mean all mechanics are ripping us off. Online reviews make businesses accountable. Many local mechanics have established a loyal clientele from going the extra mile. They trade on the precise reverse traits of the stereotype. Some even spend their spare time running marathons for charity!

Hopefully we live in an age when people and opportunities are becoming more open. There is of course good and bad in all walks of life, but we should definitely question how much can we truly tell about a person from simply knowing what they do for a living. There is so much more to most jobs than people think and that goes for the people doing them too!