The IT crowd by lindayy


The IT crowd

More Info
									                                       The IT crowd
                                       The type distribution in a group of
                                       information technology graduates

Sarah Holmes and                       Information and communications technol-         The 34 graduate recruits comprised 27 men
                                       ogy (ICT) is fundamental to the operation       and 7 women. The predominance of males
Philip L Kerr                          of any contemporary organisation, in the        paralleled the gender balance in the field of
                                       public sector as much as in the corporate       applicants (75% male). The program was
                                       sphere. The ICT labour market is highly         open to individuals who had graduated in
                                       competitive, with employers vying for a         2004, 2005 or 2006. Most of the recruits
                                       limited pool of skilled labour. Earlier this    held bachelor degrees, while a few had
                                       year the trade magazine Computerworld           completed higher degrees.
                                       reported that the demand for ICT skills in
                                                                                       While specific age data was not collected,
                                       Australia was at an all-time high.
                                                                                       observation indicated that the majority of
                                       In 2006 the Queensland Government Chief         recruits were in their twenties, with some
                                       Information Office initiated a recruitment      mature-age graduates.
                                       program for ICT graduates. Nine state
                                       government agencies opted to take part,         The ICT occupation
                                       together with a major local authority, the
                                       Brisbane City Council. The participating        Which types tend to be drawn to the ICT
                                       organisations offered 37 positions in total,    profession?
                                       spanning a range of specialisations within
                                       the ICT discipline.                             We might speculate that the formal logic
                                                                                       of the discipline, combined with its focus
                                       More than 500 applications were lodged.         on technology-based ‘hard systems’, would
                                       Applicants were shortlisted against the         make ICT more attractive to those with a
                                       ICT role specifications, based on their         preference for thinking. In particular, Susan
                                       responses to an online survey of their          Nash characterises extraverted thinking
                                       work preferences and a (non-Jungian)            (the preferred judging function of TJ types)
                                       behavioural profile, with final selections      as ‘systematising’. In temperament terms,
                                       being based on interviews. 34 of the 37         moreover, the NT types are dubbed the
                                       positions were ultimately filled.               ‘Rationals’. On that basis we might expect
                                       The graduate recruits began their two-year      T and J preferences, and NT types, to be
‘Relevant to the reality’:             placements early in 2007 with a week-long       over-represented among ICT professionals.
Dilbert                                induction program, which included a work-       For the general public, the ICT profession
                                       shop on appreciating individual differences     is perhaps exemplified by Microsoft’s Bill
                                       using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. That     Gates. When the British APT canvassed
                                       workshop is the subject of this paper.          his type a few years ago, the consensus
                                       As Isabel Myers noted in a 1975 address         was INTJ, or maybe ENTJ, in line with our
                                       (reprinted in this issue), the most important   speculation. A letter in The Australian’s IT
                                       thing type can do is to ‘enhance people’s       section recently suggested that ‘Dilbert is
                                       lives by their knowledge of type in general,    more relevant to the reality of working in
                                       and their own type in particular’. And that     the IT sector than people realise’. And a
                                       harmonises with the sponsors’ objectives        study conducted by TNS Social Research
                                       in choosing to include an MBTI workshop         for the Queensland Government last year
                                       in the graduates’ induction program.            offers snapshots of perceptions of ICT.

Australian Psychological Type Review   Vol 9 No. 1    April 2007                                                                 31
Sarah Holmes & Philip L Kerr:
The IT crowd

                                In interviews with TNS’s researchers, ICT              A nuanced analysis of type preferences in
                                students saw their fellow professionals as             ICT might suggest that conceptual fields
                                ‘problem solvers’ with ‘logical mathematical           such as enterprise architecture and ICT
                                minds’. High school students, by contrast,             strategy would tend to attract NTs and NJs,
                                saw them as ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’, in ‘their             while the practical logistics of procurement
                                own little world’. Even school counsellors,            would particularly suit SJs. There is room
                                while noting that the ‘nerd’ stereotype was            in the ICT profession for a variety of type
                                giving way to one of ‘creative people’ in a            preferences.
                                ‘good career area’, saw them as ‘not out-
                                                                                       The MBTI Atlas of Type Tables offers type
                                going’, working ‘behind the scenes’.
                                                                                       distribution tables across a diverse range
                                The high school students’ picture of ICT               of occupational samples. Michael Lyons’s
                                was a ‘guy with thick glasses’, alone in a             sample of 1229 ‘computer professionals’
                                cubicle ‘staring at computer all day’. The             (mostly programmers, analysts, engineers
                                BBC TV sitcom The IT Crowd plays up                    and managers) is particularly relevant here.
                                such images, portraying its anti-heroes—               Lyons’s data, collected in the USA, UK
                                the basement-dwelling IT department in a               and Australia between 1982 and 1984, is
                                nondescript company—as lacking in social               presented in Table 1 below.
                                skills and oblivious to their clients’ needs.

                                Such are the stereotypes. The reality is that          Table 1: Type distribution for a sample of
                                ICT covers a range of strands that call for            computer professionals (international)
                                differing skills and attributes. The Australian
                                and New Zealand Standard Classification                  ISTJ           ISFJ          INFJ           INTJ
                                of Occupations (ANZSCO) subdivides ‘ICT                 22.6%           3.9%          2.7%          15.5%
                                Professionals’ (code 26) into:
                                                                                         ISTP           ISFP          INFP          INTP
                                •   business and systems analysts, and                   5.2%           1.5%          3.6%          12.1%
                                                                                         ESTP          ESFP           ENFP          ENTP
                                •   database and systems administrators,
                                                                                         2.1%          0.7%           3.4%          5.6%
                                    and ICT security specialists

                                •   ICT network and support professionals                ESTJ          ESFJ           ENFJ          ENTJ
                                                                                         9.3%          1.0%           2.4%          8.4%
                                ANZSCO also has separate codes for ‘ICT
‘A guy with thick glasses’:     managers’ and ‘graphic and web designers,              Lyons (1985), reported in the MBTI Atlas of Type Tables,
The IT Crowd                    and illustrators’.                                     1986, p 272. n = 1229 (73% male, 27% female). MBTI
                                The ICT graduate positions ranged across               Form G, from USA (83%) and UK and Australia (17%).
                                11 distinct role specifications:

                                •   business analysis                                  The gender balance in Lyons’s sample
                                                                                       approximates that of the ICT graduates
                                •   software development                               group, making it a potentially suitable
                                •   data analysis, database management                 benchmark for comparison.

                                •   information security                               On the down side, however, this sample
                                                                                       dates from another age, almost a quarter
                                •   network and server support
                                                                                       of a century ago, before the explosion in
                                •   information systems support                        personal computers, distributed networks
                                •   spatial information systems                        and the internet. Since then the ICT world
                                                                                       has gone through several generations of
                                •   enterprise architecture                            technological evolution, with the emergence
                                •   ICT strategy                                       of role specialisations that did not exist in
                                                                                       the 1980s—and which may have shifted
                                •   ICT product management, marketing
                                                                                       the mix of types who are drawn to the ICT
                                •   ICT procurement, contract management               industry.

32                                                                 Australian Psychological Type Review           Vol 9 No. 1       April 2007
Just three types (ISTJ, INTJ and INTP)                         As Ian Ball (2001) notes, there are striking
account for half of Lyons’s 1980s sample.                      differences between men and women on
How does that compare to the data from                         the T–F dichotomy. In the Australian MBTI
closer to home, in both space and time?                        Data Archive 80% of the males report a T
                                                               preference, while for females the figure is
The Australian MBTI Data Archive holds
                                                               just 43%. When comparing type samples
type and occupational data from completed
                                                               with the archive data, it is therefore vital to
forms submitted to the Psychological Type
                                                               take account of the gender angle.
Research Unit at Deakin University. Table
2 (below) sets out the type frequencies for                    The ICT graduates sample comprised 27
the ‘Computing Professionals’ occupation,                      males and 7 females. To assess how the
as accumulated in the archive.                                 type distribution in that sample is similar to
                                                               and different from the Australian population
Table 2: Type distribution for computing                       generally, the appropriate yardstick is a
professionals (Australia, Forms G, K, M)                       blend of the Data Archive’s type tables for
                                                               men and women, weighted in proportion
   ISTJ           ISFJ          INFJ         INTJ              to the gender mix in the graduates group
   24%             4%            3%          11%               (79% to 21%).

                                                               Table 3 (below) presents those gender-
  ISTP            ISFP          INFP         INTP
                                                               weighted type frequencies for Australia,
   6%              4%            2%           6%
                                                               using the Form G and Form K data as
  ESTP           ESFP           ENFP         ENTP              reported by Ian Ball in 2004.
   5%             4%             4%           5%               (For example, the frequency of ESFJs in
                                                                                                                           ISTJs and INTJs are the
                                                               the Data Archive is 3.0% for males and
  ESTJ           ESFJ           ENFJ         ENTJ
  10%             5%             2%           5%
                                                               8.0% for females. The figure of 4.0% in                     predominant types of the
                                                               Table 3 is the weighted average of those
                                                               frequencies, with more weight to the male                   computing professionals
Australian MBTI Data Archive Project, ACSO Code 2231
                                                               figure commensurate with the proportion
(Computing Professionals), n = 126 (male 85, female 41).
                                                               of males in the graduates group.)                           in the Australian archive
MBTI Forms G and K (n = 102) and Form M (n = 24), as
extracted by Ian Ball (2007).                                                                                              and international sample
                                                               Table 3: Reference type distribution—adult
As with Lyons’s international sample, the                      MBTI respondents (Australia, Forms G and K,
predominant types in the Australian arch-                      gender-weighted)
ive are ISTJ and INTJ (with ESTJ, rather
than INTP, third). Does this mean that ICT                       ISTJ           ISFJ          INFJ           INTJ
is a profession attractive to those types—                      19.5%           6.0%          3.3%           8.2%
or does it simply reflect the frequency of
those types in the community generally?                          ISTP           ISFP          INFP           INTP
                                                                 4.9%           2.6%          4.2%           5.8%
In examining type distributions in the ICT
profession, a key question is which base                         ESTP          ESFP           ENFP          ENTP
population to use as a comparator.                               4.2%          1.8%           4.8%          6.4%
In the absence of normative type frequency                      ESTJ           ESFJ           ENFJ          ENTJ
data for Australia, the next-best option is                     14.5%          4.0%           2.4%          7.6%
the Australian MBTI Data Archive which,
as noted above, is a repository of forms                       Australian MBTI Data Archive, adult males (n = 11 538)
submitted by MBTI practitioners. Although                      and females (n = 8456), MBTI Form G and Form K, as
a non-random ‘sample of convenience’, it                       reported by Ball (2004). Derived by combining the type
is comprehensive, with more than 20 000                        frequencies for males and females, weighted in proportion
records from urban and rural locations,                        to the gender mix in the ICT graduates sample (79% male,
and from all occupational groups.                              21% female).

Australian Psychological Type Review             Vol 9 No. 1     April 2007                                                                       33
Sarah Holmes & Philip L Kerr:
The IT crowd

                                         Method                                                The MBTI workshop

                                         The challenge for us as facilitators was to           After introducing themselves, the facilitators
                                         introduce type concepts through the MBTI,             began the workshop with an outline of the
                                         and to create an experiential workshop for            Jung’s theory of personality type and its
                                         participants to discover more about individ-          application by Briggs and Myers, leading
                                         ual differences—all in two hours.                     into an overview of the four dichotomies.

                                         The need for a robust and ethical process             The participants were then asked to sign
                                         was heightened by our clients’ openness               their names, firstly as usual, and then with
                                         to using type as a continuing theme in the            their non-preferred hands. This is a simple
                                         graduates’ professional development. If               and effective activity for demonstrating the
                                         the introductory workshop offered negative            key concept of ‘preference’.
                                         experiences, or left participants confused            The participants then self-selected their
                                         or uncertain, then our ability to use type for        preferences, using the descriptors in Mary
                                         further individual and group development              McGuiness’s You’ve Got Personality. After
                                         would be significantly compromised.                   settling on a provisional four letters, they
                                         Our non-negotiable content included ethical           were guided to the whole-type descriptions
                                         use of type; the history, theory and validity         for confirmation.
                                         of the MBTI; and activities for each of the           Four activities to demonstrate each of the
                                         dichotomies. Much careful thought went                dichotomies followed. One hour of the two-
                                         into the design of the workshop—Sarah’s               hour workshop was allocated to these.
                                         rule of thumb of 10 hours preparation for
                                         each hour of delivery was borne out.                  Firstly, the graduates split into two groups
                                                                                               based on their self-selected preference for
                                         Completing the indicator                              extraversion or introversion, for the task
                                                                                               of describing the celebration they would
                                         The graduates completed Form M in a group             most enjoy to mark a significant life event,
                                         setting two days prior to the workshop. The           such as a major birthday, a graduation, or
                                         timetable for the induction week required             buying a house.
                                         this to be undertaken on their first morning
                                         together, which was not really conducive              The contrast in the group processes was
                                         to the ‘shoes-off’ state of mind in which the         striking: the E group was interactive and
Sarah Holmes (ISFP) has a back-          MBTI is ideally completed. As the summer              noisy, while in the I group individuals spoke
ground that includes working in local    heat ruled out sending the group outdoors,            quietly in turn as the others listened. Each
government, water and customer           the graduates were invited to split off from          group’s description of its ideal celebration
service organisations. She currently     their table groups and disperse around the            affirmed the expected differences on the
works in organisational and individual   auditorium in which the day’s activities were         E–I dichotomy.
development and building workforce       being held.                                           The graduates then split up, according to
                                         One unforeseen issue was the difficulty in            their self-selected preference for sensing
Sarah has qualifications in business     completing the instrument experienced by              or intuiting, for the task of describing the
and HR management, and is a pro-         a few graduates whose first language was              workshop venue (Brisbane’s 1930s-era
fessional member of the Australian       not English. Two asked for explanations of            City Hall). With their contrasting levels of
Human Resources Institute. She is        unfamiliar words (‘ingenious’, ‘gregarious’),         detail and generality, the groups’ respective
accredited in MBTI Step 2 and MTR-i      and a third required help with several of             descriptions again affirmed the expected
Gold and uses them in her work with      the questions. The nuances of Form M’s                differences on the S–N dichotomy.
groups and individuals.                  word pairs may well be very effective in              The third dichotomy presented a logistical
                                         discriminating the preferences of respond-            challenge. Given the group’s gender mix
                                         ents who are proficient in English, but are           and vocational specialisation, the facilitat-
                                         plainly less so for those who are unsure of           ors had anticipated an imbalance between
                                         the basic meaning of the words.                       thinking and feeling, and that proved to
                                         The completed forms were template-scored              be the case: only 3 of the 32 participants
                                         during the 48 hours before the workshop.              self-selected the F preference.

34                                                                         Australian Psychological Type Review     Vol 9 No. 1    April 2007
This time, instead of splitting into T and F         On the other hand, one of the Js told of
groups, 3 volunteers from the T-preferring           finally giving up on his P team mates and
graduates acted out a scenario in front of           finishing the assignment on his own.
the whole group, as did the 3 F-preferring
                                                     Each of the four activities was capped off
graduates. The scenario was that, as the
                                                     with examples of the type biases that can
leaders of a team of 10 people, they had
                                                     arise from differences on each dichotomy,
been directed to downsize due to a budget
                                                     as cited by Isabel Myers in Introduction To
shortfall. Their task was to decide which
                                                     Type. These were presented to highlight
three team members were to go. The rest
                                                     the need to not only know one’s own type,
of the group observed the T and F trios act
                                                     but to also value what the opposite brings.
out the scenario in turn.

After initially skirting around the question,        After the activities on the four dichotomies,
the T group began to propose criteria for            the graduates received their MBTI report
deciding which team members were to go,              forms, and compared their reported types
such as ‘last on, first off’, and individual         with those they had earlier self-selected.
productivity. The F group favoured a more
                                                     27 of the 32 participants found agreement
personal approach, first proposing to ask if
                                                     on three or more dichotomies, including 13
any of the team wished to leave, and then
                                                     with agreement on all four dichotomies.
discussing options such as part-time work
                                                     This is a good result, particularly as 8 of the
and shared pay cuts that would avert the
                                                     group had scored equal on one dichotomy,
need for anybody to go. These differing
                                                     and therefore had only three letters in their
approaches prompted some sharp banter
                                                     reported types.
between individuals in the T and F groups
                                                                                                       27 of the 32 graduates
at the conclusion of the activity.                   Those 8 graduates with tied scores on one

For the fourth activity the graduates were
                                                     dichotomy equate to a quarter of the group.       found agreement on at
                                                     For comparison, John Bathurst found equal
not split up according to their self-selected
                                                     scores in just over 10% of the records in         least three dichotomies
judging or perceiving preference. Instead,
                                                     the New Zealand MBTI database (2004).
in table groups (each including both J and
                                                     By that yardstick, the 25% incidence in the       between self-selected
P members), they described how they had
completed their last university assignment.
                                                     graduates group seems to be a statistical
                                                                                                       and reported types
                                                     anomaly—or simply bad luck.
Curiously, even the J-preferring graduates
                                                     The workshop concluded with an offer of
recounted a looser approach than might be
                                                     individual consultation or coaching for any
expected in (say) the workplace. Perhaps
                                                     of the participants who required it.
the university environment fosters a more
open-ended style.                                    The next session in the induction program’s
                                                     packed schedule was time management—
A key theme in the group discussions was
                                                     a nice segue from the preceding discussion
that, in their different ways, the Js and Ps
                                                     of the J–P dichotomy.
both got their assignments done. The Js
tended to work to plans, of course. The Ps           Supplementary session
too had plans, albeit in a rough form, and
accepted that it would not come together             Two graduates who joined the program a
until the end (often in an all-night burst on        few weeks after the workshop group were
the eve of the deadline).                            given a condensed induction. The MBTI
                                                     component was covered by a 90-minute
In their mixed J–P groups, the graduates
                                                     face-to-face debrief and validation with
also acknowledged the mutual benefits in
                                                     one of the original facilitators (Phil), using
working with others of the opposite pref-
                                                     Form Ms completed beforehand.
erence. The Ps valued the structure and
scheduling offered by the Js, while the Js           The type data for these two graduates has
appreciated how, after they had drafted an           been included in the analysis below. (One
assignment, their P colleagues were able             scored a tie on one dichotomy, taking the
to suggest other angles and options.                 total number of tied scores to 9.)

Australian Psychological Type Review   Vol 9 No. 1    April 2007                                                                35
Sarah Holmes & Philip L Kerr:
The IT crowd

                                            Findings                                                      Table 5: Self-selection ratios (SSRs) of
                                                                                                          type frequencies: ICT graduates relative
                                            The distribution of reported types in the                     to adult Australians (gender-weighted)
                                            graduates sample is presented in Table 4
                                            below. (The 9 graduates with tied scores                          ISTJ         ISFJ           INFJ           INTJ
                                            have been omitted.)                                                0.6           0              0             2.0
                                            Comparison with the Australian reference
                                                                                                              ISTP         ISFP           INFP           INTP
                                            distribution (Table 3) indicates which types
                                                                                                               1.6           0              0             1.4
                                            are over- and under-represented in the ICT
                                            graduates sample. This analysis is, how-                          ESTP         ESFP          ENFP           ENTP
                                            ever, sensitive to the vagaries of the small                        0            0             0             1.9
                                            numbers in the sample, and the findings
                                            should be interpreted with caution.                               ESTJ         ESFJ          ENFJ           ENTJ
                                                                                                               1.1          2.0           1.7            2.1
                                            Table 5 shows the relative frequency (SSR)
                                            for each type in the ICT graduates sample.
                                                                                                          Ratios of type frequencies for ICT graduates (Table 4) to
                                            Subject to the preceding cautions, we can
                                                                                                          gender-weighted Australian reference sample (Table 3).
                                            make the following observations about type
                                            frequencies in the graduates sample, rela-
                                            tive to the Australian reference distribution:                On the above (inherently limited) analysis,
                                                                                                          the following types are over-represented
                                            •    ENTJ, INTJ, ESFJ, ENTP, ENFJ, ISTP                       in the ICT graduates sample:
                                                 and INTP are over-represented
                                                                                                          •    all 4 of the NT types
                                            •    ESTJ is represented at a frequency
                                                 comparable to that in the Australian                     •    5 of the 8 T types
                                                 reference population                                     •    3 of the 4 TP types
                                            •    ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, ISFP, INFP, ESTP,                      •    2 of the 4 TJ types
                                                 ESFP and ENFP are under-represented
                                                 (with all except ISTJ not represented                    The preceding analysis is limited by the
                                                 at all in this particular sample)                        statistical sensitivity inherent in the small
                                                                                                          numbers of each type. If we shift our focus
Philip L Kerr (INTP) wrote his first        Table 4: Type distribution for a sample of                    from whole types to the four dichotomies,
Fortran program as a science under-         ICT graduates (Australia)                                     the numbers in each category are more
                                                                                                          robust and we are on more solid ground.
graduate in 1971, and later majored
                                                                                                          Furthermore, this part of our analysis can
in computing in his business degree.            ISTJ         ISFJ          INFJ          INTJ
                                                                                                          include the data for the 9 graduates who
Phil has had a 32-year career with                                                                        scored equal on one of the dichotomies
                                                12%           0%            0%           16%
technology-based shared services                                                                          (and who were therefore omitted from the
providers and government-owned                  ISTP         ISFP          INFP         INTP              analysis of whole types).
corporations. He currently manages
                                                                                                          Two sets of data on the graduates’ type
a workforce capability program with             8%            0%            0%            8%              preferences were gathered: one based on
the Queensland Government Chief
                                                                                                          their self-selected types (by counts of the
Information Office.                             ESTP        ESFP          ENFP          ENTP
                                                                                                          E and I, S and N, and T and F sub-groups
Phil is MBTI accredited. He edits                                                                         during the activities on those dichotomies);
                                                0%            0%            0%           12%
the Australian Psychological Type                                                                         and the other on reported types.
Review.                                         ESTJ        ESFJ           ENFJ         ENTJ              The tight schedule precluded the collection
                                                                             of best-fit type data at the end of the work-
                                                16%           8%            4%           16%              shop. Throughout the session, however,
                                                                                                          the facilitators reiterated that participants
                                            n = 25, reported types, Form M. Excludes 9 graduates          had the freedom to choose (or not choose)
                                            with tied scores on one dichotomy.                            their own type.

36                                                                                    Australian Psychological Type Review           Vol 9 No. 1        April 2007
Figure 1 (below) shows the self-selected              •       For their preferred judging function, the
distributions of the 34 graduates across                      graduates’ self-selected and reported
E–I, S–N and T–F. (As the group was not                       preferences were broadly consistent.
split up for the J–P activity, there was no                   A massive 91% self-selected thinking,
opportunity to observe those numbers.)                        and their MBTI scores confirmed that
                                                              preference (90%).

                                                      •       The graduates’ MBTI scores indicated
E 41%                                  59% I
                                                              a preference for a judging orientation
                                                              by a wide margin (72% to 28%). (No
S 76%                                  24% N                  self-selected preference data was avail-
                                                              able for this dichotomy.)

T 91%                                      F          How do the ICT graduates’ preferences on
                                                      each of the four dichotomies compare with
                                                      those in the general population? Table 6
Figure 1: ICT graduates’ type preferences—
                                                      (below) compares the graduates’ reported
                                                      preferences with those that predominate in
                                                      our gender-weighted reference distribution
Figure 2 (below) shows the distribution of            of Australian adults (Table 3).
the graduates across the four dichotomies
as reported by their MBTI scores. (A few
instances of tied scores on each of S–N,              Table 6: Reported type preferences for
T–F and J–P have been excluded from                   ICT graduates relative to adult Australians
the calculations.)                                    (gender-weighted)                                              91% of the graduates
Comparison of graduates’ self-selected                           Australian            ICT                           self-selected a thinking
and reported type preferences reveals
both consistencies and inconsistencies:
                                                                  adults            graduates
                                                                                                                     preference, and that was
•   A clear majority of the graduates (59%
                                                                    54%                 50%
                                                                                                                     confirmed by their MBTI
    to 41%) self-selected introversion as                 S         57%                 45%
    their preferred attitude, but their MBTI                                                                         scores
    scores indicated an even split between                T         71%                 90%
    extraversion and introversion.
                                                          J         65%                 72%
•   For their preferred perceiving function,
    more than 3 in 4 of the graduates self-           Percentage of the relevant sample reporting a preference
    selected sensing (76% to 24%). Their              for I, S, T or J. ‘Australian adults’ (gender-weighted) data
    MBTI scores, by contrast, indicated a             from Table 3; ‘ICT graduates’ (reported) data from Figure 2.
    small margin for intuiting (55% to 45%).

                                                      On the above comparison (and mindful of
                                                      the small numbers) we see that, relative to
E 50%                                  50% I
                                                      our Australian reference population, the
                                                      ICT graduates in this sample display:
S 45%                                  55% N          •       a roughly similar balance between
                                                              introversion and extraversion

T 90%                                      F          •       a marginal preference for intuiting,
                                                              rather than for sensing

J 72%                                  28% P          •       a much stronger preference for

Figure 2: ICT graduates’ type preferences—            •       a marginally stronger preference for
reported                                                      judging

Australian Psychological Type Review    Vol 9 No. 1       April 2007                                                                        37
Sarah Holmes & Philip L Kerr:
The IT crowd

Conclusions                                     The workshop design and delivery also                References
                                                required the facilitators to negotiate with
                                                                                                     Australian Bureau of Statistics and Statistics
The single most striking feature of the ICT     each other. Sarah, highly experienced in               New Zealand 2005, ‘ANZSCO: Australian
graduates sample is the predominance            running type workshops, saw the brief as               and New Zealand standard classification
of the thinking preference. In a sample         delivering a piece of facilitated work for a           of occupations’ (information paper),
                                                                                                       accessed via,
of 27 men and 7 women we might expect           client, while Phil, whose involvement with             16 February 2007.
(on the evidence in the Australian MBTI         type is mainly behind the scenes in writing          Ball, Ian 2001, ‘Gender differences in the
Data Archive) around 70% to prefer T. In        and editing, saw the opportunity to glean              distribution of types in Australia: Men
fact, our ICT graduates reported a 90%          insights into the type characteristics of the          are from Marble Mar, women are from
preference for T, and confirmed that in                                                                Venus Bay’, Australian Psychological
                                                ICT occupation. And, in the sharing out of
                                                                                                       Type Review 3:1, 15.
their self-selected types.                      the segments of the workshop, Phil (INTP)
                                                                                                     Ball, Ian L 2004, ‘Under the Southern Cross
                                                presented the history and theory of type,              (part 1): Our way of life’, Australian
T also predominates in Lyons’s international
                                                while Sarah (ISFP) handled its application             Psychological Type Review 6:3, 3-8.
sample of computer professionals (Table 1),
                                                in the group activities.                             Bathurst, John 2004, ‘Breaking ties: Inter-
but not to the same extent (81%). Interest-
                                                                                                       preting very low MBTI scores’, Australian
ingly, the computing professionals in the                                                              Psychological Type Review 6:3, 43-45.
Australian MBTI Data Archive (Table 2)
                                                Next steps
                                                                                                     Bolin, Courtney, and Susan M Nash 2002,
report a somewhat lower preference for T,                                                              ‘Eight is enough: Expressing the essence
                                                At the close, the workshop the facilitators
just 72% (albeit with a higher proportion of                                                           of the functions in their attitudes’, Aust-
                                                solicited the graduates’ reactions to what             ralian Psychological Type Review 4:3, 6.
women than in the graduates sample).
                                                they had learned. One of the group voiced            Hinds, Adam, and Vivienne Croft 2006,
Drilling deeper, we see that both forms of      an experience common to many of us on                   ‘National ICT Skills Summit Research:
the function, extraverted thinking and the      first encountering our type description: ‘It’s          Research report’, TNS Social Research,
‘fundamentally different’ (in Jung’s words)     freaky’, he said.                                       downloads/TNS_ICTResearchReport.pdf,
introverted thinking, occur more frequently                                                             accessed 16 March 2007.
                                                The graduates’ learnings from their MBTI
in the ICT graduates sample than in our                                                              Maberley, Hayward 2007, letter, ‘You Said
                                                workshop found an immediate application
Australian reference sample: 61% vs 50%                                                                IT’, The Australian, 27 February 2007.
                                                later in the induction week, when they met
for the TJ (Te) types, and 29% vs 21% for                                                            Macdaid, Gerald P, Mary H McCaulley, and
                                                their new supervisors and mentors (some                Richard I Kainz 1986, Myers-Briggs Type
the TP (Ti) types.
                                                of whom also had some knowledge of type                Indicator atlas of type tables, Gainesville,
The function-pairs lens reveals a further       concepts). In their three-way discussions              FL: CAPT.
distinction. In comparison to our Australian    the graduates, supervisors and mentors               McGuiness, Mary 2004, You’ve got person-
reference population, the ICT graduates         were encouraged to share their insights                ality: An introduction to the personality
                                                                                                       types described by Carl Jung and Isabel
sample has a much higher proportion of          into their respective type preferences, in             Myers, Epping NSW: MaryMac.
NTs (52% vs 28%), and a marginally lower        order to lay a foundation for their ongoing          Myers, Isabel 2007 (1975), ‘Making the most
proportion of STs (37% vs 43%).                 relationships.                                         of individual gifts’ (keynote address, 16
                                                                                                       October 1975), Australian Psychological
In our introduction we speculated that T, J     The final day of the induction week offered            Type Review 9:1, 3-8.
and NT would be over-represented among          evidence that the MBTI workshop had left             Queensland Government Chief Information
ICT professionals. In our sample of ICT         an impression. The day’s program included              Office, ‘Do you want an ICT career with
graduates that has indeed proved to be          an outdoor activity in which several of the            byte?’,
the case, to a greater or (in the case of J)    graduates opted not to take part. Invited to
                                                                                                     Rossi, Sandra 2007, ‘Demand for ICT labour
lesser extent. The IT Crowd stereotype of       suggest a topic for an alternative session,
                                                                                                       at an all-time high’, Computerworld 29:27,
introversion in extremis is not borne out,      they asked for more on type. Sarah and                 1 + 37.
however: our ICT graduates are no more          Phil were not present, but the facilitator on        Silcox, Nancy 2003, ‘Guess the type of the
introverted than a comparable sample of         the day happened to be MBTI-accredited,                 politician/celebrity: Bill Gates’, TypeFace
Australians generally.                          and took the group through an introduction              14:4, 36-37.
                                                to type dynamics and development.
For the facilitators, the upfront negotiation
                                                                                                     Thanks to Tracey Edwards, Kate Zocchi
of objectives and content was fundamental       It appears that the introductory workshop
                                                                                                     and Angela Costello for the invitation to
to the workshop’s success, particularly in      not only fulfilled its objective of helping the
                                                                                                     conduct this workshop; to Cathy Craddock
the tight time frame of two contact hours.      graduates to understand and appreciate
                                                                                                     for her help with the MBTI scoring and the
Those negotiations were assisted by the         individual differences, but also whetted their       workshop; and to Ian Ball for the Australian
respect for the interests of the participants   appetites to learn more. This augurs well            vocational type data. And thanks to the ICT
evidenced by the program coordinators           for their careers in ICT—or wherever else            graduates for their participation.
who commissioned the workshop.                  life takes them.

38                                                                   Australian Psychological Type Review         Vol 9 No. 1         April 2007

To top