31 December, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing – Glass Ceiling, Slotting and Judgment Disposals (Part III)

Read Part I and Part II of this blog post before reading this one. 

Glass Ceiling
Recently, a women, VP of a large MNC in Bangalore claimed there is no glass ceiling and that gender stereotypes don’t exist. She said how she got it all easy, without any struggle as a woman. I have this to say here, “Well, lady, you got plain lucky perhaps. Gender Stereotypes do exist and they exist everywhere. It’s just that you haven’t had the time to spot it yet – which may also mean it hasn’t happened to you yet.”

When a man succeeds, he is awesome. When a woman succeeds, it’s because she was nice to her boss. Her skills end up in gutter. Slotting women without really understanding their work or even attempting to do so is another trend seen more often in the women-suppressed world – sometimes women suppress themselves and call it a ‘wise choice’. Sometimes, others (both men and women) end up suppressing other women. Take a look at this 1 minute video which tells a lot!

Judgement Disposals
I once worked with a colleague who was very pretty and a good natured girl. Since she was pretty, a majority of colleagues were looking excuses to talk to her, since she worked for a different department. For the soft toned girl she was, she politely declined coffee meet-ups, dinner catch-ups and handled this with utmost sensitivity and professionalism. Some of the guys who didn’t like her response to their requests ended up calling her a slut and that she had lots of boyfriends. When did “being pretty” mean putting up a sign board on the face reading, “I am available for everyone to talk to”. She is entitled to live the life she wants, but people around her have to get judgmental or they lose their sleep. This is just one specific case. I can go on and on about many such in organizational contexts.

People are making judgments about women all the time. If a guy looks sad because India lost a cricket match, it’s completely believable. If a girl looks sad, she must have had a fight with her mother-in-law. Why judge women? Why throw pre-conceived notions about women in the air with callous insensitivity?

We as a society must stop becoming judgmental about people in general if we are willing to lead the way to a better society.

Hey Girl, You Have Always Rocked!
You are already an entrepreneur – How on earth did you manage to pull yourself up to the challenges life offered and managed to get till here?

Don’t wear a special badge on your shoulder and expect fair treatment because you are a woman.

Pick the battles which are worth fighting for

If you choose to fight, choose to win

Challenge the system, not the people– it doesn’t work that way

Don’t lean in at all times. Sometimes, step back. Other times, take a leap of faith. Whatever the situation, believe in yourself

Become the benchmark of professionalism irrespective of where you work or how people treat you

Don’t allow your tolerance to be mistaken for cowardice or playing safe

Have a Mentor who’s been there, done that – Start from your mom, perhaps

Be Your Own Boss

Have Big Heady Audacious Goals

Make sure people take you seriously

Hierarchy has nothing to do with skill. Keep Upskilling yourself

Don’t focus on competition, focus on solving problems and working towards solutions

Ask yourself, “Why do I work? For brownie points? To fulfill my passion?”

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind ~ Dr. Seuss

People have to get rid of the disability of the mind, of having pre-conceived notions about the world
Lakshmi Pratury

Celebrate Womanhood!

Parimala Hariprasad

28 December, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing – Perception About Women (Part II)

Part II of my blog post "Perception About Women" continues below. If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.

Thou Art The Heir
The other day, I was speaking to a yoga trainee who looked very depressed. With a slight push, she opened up. She has a ten year old son and a five year old daughter.  She said how she struggles very hard to raise both her kids by giving equal and fair treatment, which is spoilt very often by her husband and in-laws who treat their boy as God and downplay the achievements of the little girl. The problem has gone so much into the boy’s head that he has started to speak the same language, “I am a man and this is how I must behave. You are a girl, you don’t know anything. You keep quiet.” We fail to recognize that these biases form as early as in childhood. Being part of an ecosystem, it becomes almost impossible to change the mindsets of children in their growing up years.

Boys Are Heroes and Girls Are Zeroes
I drop my girl to school every day. As part of regular routine, we take a route through one of her best friend Abhi’s house. One morning, I met Abhi and his mom, greeted them and started to walk towards school. In the meantime, my girl and Abhi were speaking about some game. He suddenly shouted, “Boys are heroes and Girls are zeroes”. I was shocked! I didn’t know how to respond while his mom took pride in what he said. This is a challenge. My girl also told me how boys and girls form separate groups at school and constantly compare themselves in sports and studies. Many studies have revealed that boys are good at sports and girls are good at studies in general. This doesn’t mean the other way round – girls are pathetic in sports and boys are hopeless in studies. We, as parents get it all wrong while raising little kids, most of the time!

The Beauty about Back Benchers
Here is another story. This is about two 35 year old boys who met at an international airport after 5 long years. They started to talk about their school. The first topic that they discuss about is how they enjoyed life as back benchers. The immediate next topic is about that girl who topped the class – “She was an encyclopedia. God knows what she is doing right now” and the conversation about this class topper continues for next 20 minutes. I was surprised that these two grown up adults (both in well respected professions) didn’t have anything meaningful in life to talk about other than that girl who topped the class. Is it their failure of not topping the class that bugged them for years or that they thought they are more successful as back benchers? Whatever the answer, who cares?

Early Impressions & Growing Up Years
During one of my vacations, I stayed in my aunt’s house in their neighbourhood where there lived a family with two kids. Ramesh is a 15 year old teenager and his sister Radha is 9 years old. I saw Radha carrying a big pot of water to her home while her mom yelled at Ramesh, “Why don’t you help the little girl carry that pot to the kitchen?” to which he replied, “Haha, what are you talking? It’s her job, not mine”. It left me wondering. Forget about gender bias, what has happened to even niceties like compassion, kindness and empathy, I wondered.

Two things strike about Ramesh:
1.      Ramesh was born to a father Ram who is heavily dominant with his wife Sita, so much that if his dad sat in the balcony and asked for a glass of water, his wife has to bring it in a matter of seconds. Sita is running most of the times when her husband is home. Ramesh has grown up constantly watching this relationship and thinks this is the right way to treat woman.
2.     Ramesh is surrounded by an eco -system where he is given more freedom compared to Radha. He gets to play cricket every day, can come late, go on trips with his friends, sent to an english medium school and even got to drive a bike with his name embossed on it. Radha has to struggle to ask for clothes for her birthday even. She gets reprimanded and is ordered to wear old clothes – just because she doesn’t move around a lot outside of her home.

Gender Stereotypes
The system in which these kids live has an influence on them. This influence is inclined more towards facilitating males and exploiting females. No wonder why Ramesh is the way he is.

If you look at how boys and girls are brought up, the upbringing of a boy is mostly with the dad who takes him to different places, shows cool stuff, made him meet people, allows him to help at work and sow seeds for great dreams.

On the contrary, girl’s upbringing surrounds around her mother’s life. She goes around, plays girlie games, helps her mom in household work while her mom  lectures to her about humanity, kindness, compassion, love, patience and tolerance. The moment she hits puberty, things change. She is restricted from going alone or in the dark, she is excluded from playing a few games or doing a few things, she is no longer a child, she is a young woman and she has to behave like a woman – a well behaved woman at that! Sometimes, this is attributed to protectiveness.

Image Credits : Google
People need to be treated fairly irrespective of what’s between their legs.  Every time someone makes noise about women being unequal, I told myself, “Oh No, Not Again”. Maura Pennington sums it up well in this Forbes article, “Women need the support of other women in the way that all humans need the support of peers.  What they do not need is condescension.  Obsessing over inequality eventually convinces both sides that we are somehow unequal.  It opens up discussion of all the ways we are different, all the ways women cannot be like men and vice versa.  The end result of such talk of segregation is that women are made to look weaker.  We are made to seem in need of assistance, that we cannot survive without federal laws or university regulations mandating our parity with men.

Victoria Pynchon, once received an email in response to one of her articles on Gender Bias which read, “I have never seen a dead woman on a battlefield”. To this, she responds, “Quite correct. When we frame the war dead and wounded as only those engaged in armed conflict on the battlefield, women and children are eliminated entirely, not only from the photographs and news reporting, but also from history and, more importantly, from peace conferences. The frame erases the experience of the people who aren’t seen by the reporters because they’ve framed “war” as an activity in which only soldiers fight and are injured.”
Framing about women without quoting the exact context has played another key role in downplaying women’s contributions for ages. Additionally, the humility and shyness of those umpteen women who hide their successes behind their male family members ensure that many women don’t see the light of the day.

Hardwired Perception
I was sitting in Linda Rising’s workshop last year where she took me through a journey of emotions with respect to how women and men perceive people around them. With tears rolling down my eyes, I asked her, “Why is it this way? Why should people of different gender or even same gender be treated differently for similar accomplishments or failures?” She looked at me with ultimate brutality which is very unusual for her age (she is 71), “People’s minds have been hard-wired this way for generations. It’s hard to change it at one go.” She shrugged her shoulders, “This is how the world is. You need to accept it.”

If the ecosystem [culture, familial backgrounds and upbringing] we live in doesn’t help us with changing wrong perceptions and become conscious of our biases, we’ll end up becoming the animals our ancestors once were!


26 December, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing - Perception About Women (Part I)

The Loud Mouthed Woman
One of my early managers’ was a woman. She was aggressive, results-oriented and mostly hard with under-performing people. She knew how to get things done. She spoke so courageously that if she stepped out of her cabin, many other managers would run into their cabins whispering, ‘Oh Shit, this lady is out on the floor’. In short, she did her job well. Oh! By the way, people called her ‘Loud Mouthed’, not a ‘Skilled Manager’.

Not an Issue
Ramani is the sole tester in her team. Her name is ‘Not an Issue’ at her workplace. Her mistake is that she reports bugs despite developers telling her not to report them in the bug tracker because it stands as bad reputation against their coding skills. Even the most valid bug is treated as ‘Not an Issue’ blaming her for lack of information on scope or context of the project. She reports to a development manager who is partial to his developers. As a sole tester and a young one at that, she hardly has access to information about the project or teams which can help her test better or even report bugs for features that are in scope. She has to fight a war to do her duty as a tester, every single day. Not an Issue to anyone in this organization!

Queen Charming
I was speaking to one of the co-founders of a startup recently. He said that Yahoo has started to do well because one of the co-founders of Yahoo invested in key products which started to yield good results. He upfront pointed out that Yahoo stocks are soaring high, not due to Marissa Mayer’s charm, but because of the co-founders investments. Wow! What an idiotic board of directors Yahoo must have to hire a woman just for charm and high heels and not for creating great strategy!

The Master Chef Wife
I once worked for a critical release. I had to stretch late into the night and reach home only by 11 PM. It was my choice to work late and contribute to the project. Most of the days, when I picked my bag to leave at 9.45 PM to catch the cab at 10 PM, my manager would ask, ‘Leaving?’ in an angry voice meaning ‘You are least bothered about this project’. On many days, I didn’t have the dinner served at office simply because I didn’t know if the support guy who I was helping would ping me. I would sit up late and work, while this manager would call up his wife, question her why she was delayed by 30 minutes (Oh, she usually reached home by 5.30 PM on most days) and order the menu for dinner. ‘Chitti, please make chicken curry and fish fry. I’ll be home by 12 PM. I Love You. Bye’. And someone else’s wife is working till 10 PM. Insensitivity at its heights. Sigh!

My Spouse is better than yours
I have heard and overheard husbands tell their spouses, ‘Why do you work for such long hours ( 9 hr workdays). You deserve double the salary for the work you are doing. You are making the company richer while they pay you peanuts. Why don’t you quit this job and find a better paying job?’ The obedient spouse makes the decision, one fine day. The same husbands at workplaces talk about how woman are irresponsible and non-committal to work. According to some of them, most women come to work at 8.30 am when most of the team (mostly men) are in office only by 11 am, watch news online, learn a few food recipes, make online bill payments, go shopping during lunch, start real work only by 2 PM and at 4.30 PM sharp, complain that they’ll be delayed to catch a bus or pick their child from daycare or crèche. Why don’t these women just stay at home and save all the trouble for men at work? Is that all? Haven’t men really met even a single woman who is committed to work for those 9 hours that she is in office?

Male Ego versus Male Ego
One of the managers I worked with told me how he would never relocate to another city or country if his wife worked elsewhere and he had to move with her. He said, ‘My ego doesn’t allow me to do that, Parimala’. I smilingly said, ‘Okay’. Another ex-colleague reacted fumingly to a manager saying, ‘My principles don’t allow me to report to a female manager’. This guy in question was moved to a different team headed by a male manager. Whoa!

Instant Recognition
Few years ago, a male colleague asked me, “Pari, why do woman get instant recognition while men don’t?” He was referring to a particular case of a woman who started to get a lot of sudden recognition for her work from a reputed community. He started to question her work, her credibility and her ability itself without thinking about her caliber or skills. Why judge so quickly or jump to conclusions?

A Trigger called Female
A friend I know is a branch manager at one of the top North Indian Restaurants in Bangalore. She must be one of the very few people specialized in running restaurants. She knows her job, she knows how to get things done and she has to get it done by men – be it supervisors, waiters or housekeeping guys. She says that acceptance has been very hard for guys who work with her.  Majority of them don’t listen to her, they bitch about her all the time, screw things up just to annoy her and do everything other than right things while she is trying her best to run the restaurant. These people make it hard for her, but she doesn’t give up. She continues to fight multiple battles to keep things moving.

Image Credits : The Internet
Perception Problems
Man: My dream is to build a billion dollar company
[Wow, he is such a passionate and confident man. Damn sure, he’ll do as he dreams!]

Woman: My dream is to build a billion dollar company
[What a joke, man! Two years down the lane, she’ll be married to a guy with dollar dreams, re-locate to another country, bear two children and post recipes online. She’ll build a billion dollar company. ROFL!]

The Greedy Woman
Man: I want to make a lot of money so I can play golf everyday by the time I am 40
[This guys seems to have a great plan and strategy in place]

Woman: I want to buy a flat, drive my own car and be financially independent
[She is such a greedy woman. I pity the guy who is going to marry her]

The Matrixmony (Matrimony)
Man: I need a life partner who’ll understand me, take good care of my parents and be happy with me
[He is such a wonderful son]

Woman: I need a life partner who’ll let me pursue my ambition of becoming the best in my profession, share household chores with me and accepts me as I am
[What a selfish and greedy woman? Thank God, I didn’t marry her]

The Silent Achiever
The Nasty Neighbour: Mr.Subbu doesn’t open his mouth at all. Such a quiet and graceful guy.

The Same Nasty Neighbour: She, oh she is such a mongoose. She hardly talks to anyone, ever. Highly egoistic and self-centered woman. I feel so sad Mr.Subbu got such an unsocial woman as his wife.

Part II of this blog post can be found HERE.

Parimala Hariprasad

08 December, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing - ISST

Doing it all wrong
What I was doing it wrong all these years is to not really build a colleague network outside India. I am fortunate to have a great network in India, I receive a lot of support and love for my work here. But I didn’t really reach out to global colleagues. It’s wonderful to interact with people from diverse cultures as it’ll help towards building broader perspectives about the world.

I had to just get out and collaborate with testers at a global level. I started having skype sessions with great leaders like Anne-Marie, Carsten and reached out to Maria Kedemo, Johanna Rothman, Steven Smith, Lisa Crispin for reviews. It’s been a great learning. All these people helped me recognize my blind spots, challenged me on my skills without insulting me and were willing to help again. People like Jean Ann Harrison and Teri Charles amaze me with their openness to appreciate good work. And all this without charging a penny. For the love of the profession. In One, we are truly One.

I have got a lot from the testing community since 2009. It was time to give back. I have given back by sharing what I know and also coaching/consulting testers who reach out to me [Not many know I have been consulting testers for last six months and helping some of them crack difficult puzzles at work.]  
When Iain contacted me to be a founding member of International Society for Software Testing (ISST), I found it as a great opportunity to learn more about the international testing community and also contribute in my own way. I asked very few questions, because I knew the kind of people who were going to be on the board.  So far, the discussions with the ISST group have been mind boggling. The kind of arguments testers in this group throw at each other, challenge it, the firmness and the Big Heady Audacious Goals that the group has are – Top Class!

Bhavya Siddappa, an android evangelist in Bangalore and an awesome women speaker I know recently chatted with me on how there are very few testing communities unlike Android groups, Mac forums and Python communities.  After speaking to Bhavya, one question kept troubling me. How do we make non-testers like her know more about testing communities? How do we let people from leadership teams in Development and Business know about testing? How do we make sure that more and more testers make it to CIO or CXO positions to ensure testing is taken seriously? Our profession has always got its due respects. It’s just that we don’t have enough big guys at the top (CIOs, CXOs, Directors) who can educate business stakeholders. This in turn made me think about reaching out to CXO’s/CIOs in some way. I did that in my own style by attending 2 non-testing conferences this year where I met several VPs and CIOs who are decision makers. I was happy that I spread the fragrance of testing to some of them. As testers, we need to be reaching out to C-level leaders and educate them about testing even before we move on to lower levels because most of the decisions happen at C-level. ISST has big plans here. Watch twitter space with handle @intsst for announcements.

About ISST


To promote an approach to software testing that emphasizes value and the role that skilled testers play in its delivery.


1.  Advocate for the adoption of the principles of context driven testing.
2. Encourage and support the development of testing skills, and of an international community of skilled testers.
3.  Oppose practices that are wasteful or that seek to dehumanize testing.

With this mission, ISST is set out on a journey to make a positive impact on Software Testing globally by bringing more decision makers to the testing forums and challenging them to make the profession better. Individually, many companies, testers, consultants have been fighting this war for a long time. What ISST will be doing is to bring a large chunk of this group together to fight common causes as a single team.

Why should you join ISST?
If you are a passionate tester and want to contribute and benefit from the global community, ISST membership may be a good option (purely personal view). If you want to spread awareness on testing, ISST could become one of the forums. ISST is very young right now and is setting things up. It will take a while until many people outside this group recognize the benefits. Let’s face it – any new group/entity will have its challenges setting up – it’s like building a startup.
You have to be at your work while the world is going to say a whole bunch of things about you. The good thing is you are too busy setting up that you hardly give an ear to it except for constructive criticism which is important.
Would you sign up for ISST?
My respect for Stephen Blower grew after reading his article around ISST here. He raises great points while he also has limited information on few other things which is why he has his doubts to pay the membership fees. Fair enough. I am sure a lot of testers out there have the same set of doubts, most of which will be answered in one form or the other by ISST – through its work, not just words. Some of the founding members themselves have been asking a lot of tough questions to the board. Discussions are going on. Processes are being set up. Things are being sorted. A cool set of webinars have started. Check out the first one in the series by Ben Kelly here. Some really cool things are gonna come. ISST is here to stay and rock the testing world.

Why did I pay?
I have invested a large part of my life and resources on two things – one is self-education, two is people. I believe that investing in these two are the biggest investments one can ever make in one’s lifetime. I bet Warren Buffet can’t deny that!

I paid to be part of a great team of founding members. I paid to learn from this team. I paid so I could be a significant part of a movement that gets to change the world for the better. I paid to give back to the community. I paid to take all the awesome stuff I create as an individual to a larger group who can critique, challenge and make it harder for me to excel. I paid because I needed to become a ‘BETTER ME’.

Do you want to be a part of this journey to change the world? I Dare You.Oh Yeah, I Dare You!

Wanna Join? Come on up here!


01 December, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing - Community Gang Wars

Indian CDT
Indian Context Driven Community has been awesome in recent years to say the least. Long before Weekend Testing was born, there were testers who were context driven in their own small world. Pradeep Soundararajan is one of the pioneers in driving CDT in India. He is also the only biggest inspiration for all of us who founded Weekend Testing. We all know where Weekend Testing is today. People from different parts of the world continue to run it with passion despite some of us co-founders who moved on to greater objectives.

It was the passion for testing that brought testers in India together and not the money. We live and breathe testing – so much that I am writing this blog post while on a vacation in a tiny town in Tamil Nadu. Working with like-minded testers only makes us stronger in vision and values. Today, a large number of Indian testers are a strong team of individuals who raise the bar quite often and consistently. We have our fair share of challenges. We are doing great so far and will continue to do so.

Two Context Driven Communities from India & Community Gang Wars
At Let’s Test 2013, at least three people who I respect asked me about “Two Context Driven Communities” in India. I have lived in India and haven’t know about TWO communities all along. How dumb of me? I was playing SET game with a super-cool tester when he brought up this topic again. I asked him to elaborate which he did. James Bach had told something similar in this keynote the same day. It was shocking to see how the global testing community was perceiving Indian Testing Community.

The first question that came to my mind is this – “Wont’ people in same community argue, fight, disagree and in worst cases go separate ways?” How would it become two communities? It would still be one community, but with different goals.   Oh, different goals don’t make ONE community! Really?

I have one question to the global testing community – “Are you on good terms with every tester in your country or continent or even testing companies in your region?” I have witnessed a lot of back biting happen at conferences about some people who have done real cool work, but have an evil side to their personality. What’s the big deal? Each one has an evil side. The good ones are good only because they have been smart enough to hide their evil side. As simple as that. My point is every region, community, country, continent has a good mix of great testers and not so great testers. Even amongst great testers, some people don’t see eye to eye. It’s a personal struggle between thosepeople. Why make it a national sensation? Why break the community? Why see it as two different communities?

The gigantine task will be to figure out how to proceed from there and what actions to take. Sometimes, some struggles take years to settle down. However, if the involved parties have the same vision for the Community, someday they are going to share the same podium. On that day, the world will know who was caring for the community and who wasn’t. On that day, the world will know who stuck to the vision and who gave up. Until then, we must wait. This wait, I am sure is worth it. Until then, let them be. If world was such an ideal place, World Wars would have never happened.

The Silent Rainmakers
While there are people talking about broken testing communities, while there are people like me who write blog posts on the topic, there are some great testers who are quietly stuck to their vision, testing their heart out without worrying about what the world thinks about them or their work. These people constantly push themselves to excel without worrying about how many times they will be ‘retweeted’ or ‘facebooked’ or get written about in blog posts/articles.

The good thing about these people is that they are trying to bring in a great change in the system there are in, early on – even before they head to change a bigger world. Someday, a hero or a shero will emerge under the tutorship of these rainmakers who will go on to change the world on a massive scale. Even then, these rainmakers will continue to bring in a change quietly – just like the HULK was living doing his own thing. Every time, I get talked about or get a mention in the web world, I think of all those people who haven’t got any credits despite knowing that many don’t work for credits. Tell me one thing, how many of you have really heard about Ross Collard? Oh, you are running to Google. That says it all!

Work for yourself, not for credits. Credits will follow if you do great work anyway! As for the community – there are still lot of great people in this world who can carry the community torch higher! In short, there is hope and hope is the most beautiful thing in this world.