People Management magazine recently dispelled some myths about stereotyped employees – did you have these views?
1) Older workers aren’t good with technology: FALSE! UCL pioneere research into London cabbies which showed that neuroplasticity enables our brains to grow as we get older, and there is no technical barrier to learning new skills or mastering technology. However, as we age, the connections between cells in the frontal lobe deteriorates, so learning may take longer.
2) Men can’t multitask: NOT PROVEN! Not enough research has been done on this yet – certainly recent research has shown that women seem to be able to complete multiple tasks quicker.
3) Good-looking people are more successful: TRUE! Attractiveness is subjective – however being conventionally good-looking certainly seems to pay. A Harvard study found that investors were more likely to put money into a pitch if the man making it was attractive, although this wasn’t true for women.
4) Asians are good at maths: TRUE! Asian students tend to outperform their western counterparts in maths. However, the reasons seem to be more cultural than genetic – Asian cultures prize mathematical ability more highly, and the Chinese languages are easier for counting than western languages.
5) Women aren’t suited to manual work: FALSE! Before the industrial revolution, women tended to be involved in more manual roles, and we are seeing more of a shift back to generic roles again where women are much more familiar on building sites, farming, and other traditional manual working careers.
This is a light-hearted look at stereotypes, however as responsible employers, we need to embrace diversity, and reap the benefits of the variety of potential employees we can hire – ageism, racism and sexism are hopefully words of the past.