\u201cLove what you do, and you\u2019ll never work a day in your life.\u201d That sounds great on the surface (or as an inspirational quote on Instagram), but there\u2019s a slightly sinister undercurrent to this concept, and it seems especially pervasive in tech.\u00a0\nI like to think of it as an \u201cobsession with obsession\u201d \u2014 \u00a0the idea that you can only \u201cbelong\u201d and \u201cfit in\u201d in technology if it\u2019s not just your job but your hobby, your passion, your everything. This way of thinking can be extremely detrimental to anyone who\u2019s not the stereotypical IT pro: in other words, anyone who\u2019s not straight, white, cisgendered, male, young and childless.\u00a0\nIt\u2019s what made Megan McArdle decide that she didn\u2019t belong \u2014 that \u201cthese are not my people\u201d \u2014 after starting a promising career in tech, which she showed aptitude for and seemed to enjoy. It\u2019s what led her to assume that James Damore was onto something when he used the same, tired, scientifically unsound arguments that women are not suited to tech. She\u2019s internalized the misogyny. And I\u2019ll say it once more, louder, for the people in the back: It\u2019s complete and utter sexist bullshit.\u00a0\n[ Read also:\u00a0How to overcome tech\u2019s diversity barriers\u00a0]\nWho has the time, the money, the energy to build fibre-channel networks in their basement on the weekends? Not many working parents. Not many women. Not many people in lower income brackets (who, by the way, tend to be black, Hispanic, Latinx, LGBTQ, and\/or those who fall into more than one of those categories).\u00a0\nSo, who does that leave? It leaves white, wealthy, straight, cisgendered young males, that\u2019s who. It often excludes women, black people, Hispanic\/Latinx people, married people, working parents, LGBTQA+ people \u2014 anyone who doesn\u2019t have the desire, not to mention the time, the energy or the means to build those networks in their spare time.\u00a0\n[ Read also:\u00a0Still asking why tech struggles with diversity and inclusion? Google it\u00a0]\nIt\u2019s subtle, and it\u2019s insidious, but that doesn\u2019t mean it\u2019s not just as harmful as more overt bias and discrimination. And we have to start challenging notions like this whenever we see them, says Kate Flathers, vice president of product development at DrugDev, a software platform that streamlines the clinical trial process, and whom I spoke with back in 2016 for a piece on barriers to entry for women in tech.\u00a0\nFlathers is exceptionally good at her job. She\u2019s a woman. Tech is her job, and she enjoys it, but it\u2019s not her obsession.\u00a0\n\u201cI\u2019m really good at programming. I\u2019m really good at logic problems. But honestly, I\u2019m not going to sit around, in my free time, on the computer writing code,\u201d Flathers told me.\nThe cult-like world of computer science\nNurses aren\u2019t expected to practice medical procedures or patient care in their spare time. Truck drivers also aren\u2019t seen as odd for eschewing driving-related hobbies. So, why this \u201cobsession with obsession\u201d around the IT field?\u00a0\n\u201cComputer science is almost treated like a cult, and honestly, it should be seen as any other career where you learn skills and you gain experience so you can do a job,\u201d Flathers says. \u201cYou don\u2019t have to sit around gaming or writing code on the side. You don\u2019t have to fit into the larger culture around this field in order to do well at it.\u201d\u00a0\nIt may seem like a small and relatively insignificant thing, but dismantling these basic notions of who does and doesn\u2019t belong in tech is one way to change the narrative and address the inequalities in the field. Doing so could open up this incredibly lucrative field to more women, underrepresented minorities and other groups (which, come to think of it, is probably why the cishet white male population doesn\u2019t want to address these issues, but that\u2019s another story).\u00a0\u00a0\nSo, if you have an interest in or an aptitude for tech but you\u2019re wavering because \u201cthese aren\u2019t my people,\u201d please reconsider. These can be your people; we just need to deprogram a bit, challenge the cult status and start to break down these insidious notions one at a time.