Computer geeks as loners? Data says otherwise

U.S. Census data shows tech worker marriage rates are well over the national average; more unmarried IT workers than the average, too

The typical image of a computer geek is that of a socially clueless loner. Not only single, but can't even get a date.

Data, however, paints a somewhat different picture -- at least when it comes to tech workers tying the knot.

Sixty-two percent of tech workers are married, according to 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) data analyzed by Computerworld. The rate for the entire population? 51%, a Pew Research Center analysis of 2010 Census data says.

Tech workers' marital status is on par with other white-collar professions, including finance (62%), law (62%), medicine (61%) and education, the Computerworld ACS analysis found -- perhaps as much due to age or income as career.

Nevertheless, if Dilbert were truly representative of the average IT pro, he'd have more than his dog to talk to at home; he'd be settled down with a mate.

Marital status by job category

Category Percent Married Pct Never Married
IT jobs 62.1% 26.7%
Managers (other) 65.6% 18.5%
Finance 62.4% 22.6%
Engineers 65.5% 23.4%
Scientists 56.5% 31.9%
Legal 62.0% 22.9%
Education 60.9% 25.1%
Medical 61.3% 21.1%
Other job categories 34.3% 50.0%
Total population 38.7% 45.8%
Source: Computerworld analysis of 2012 American Community Survey data, U.S. Census Bureau. Does not include those reporting as separated, divorced or widowed.

However, there's also a slightly higher proportion of IT workers who've never been married: 27%. It's not a huge jump from other occupations, but tech's never-married ranking among professionals is second highest after scientists, who are at nearly 32%. The good relationship news for both scientists and tech professionals who do marry: They have a slightly fewer divorces than other white-collar occupations.

What might scientists and tech professionals have in common that would cause a somewhat higher proportion of them to never marry?

People in tech and science tend to be loners, unlike workers in socially oriented jobs, such as sales, education and management positions, said Terri Orbuch, a professor of sociology at Oakland University and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. That can be an obstacle to meeting people, she added.

If your job is less social, you are less likely to meet that someone special, said Orbuch. Tech jobs, she said, are less social.

For this data analysis IT job categories were: IT managers, computer scientists, a broad range of IT analysts, as well as programmers, developers, support specialists, network and database administrators.

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