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


  1. nice post Parimala.. would really wait for part II. As women employees, we see all these every day.. Few are easy to ignore, for few, we have to fight hard.. I liked the perceptions that you mentioned, same thought mentioned by both man and woman will be perceived differently in this society..sigh

  2. I thought, only i have faced such hurdles, but now i have to admit am not "all alone"!!. Very nice post!!