Forehead Slappers Abound

Today, I am shocked, humbled and appalled. Let’s deal with the shocked and humbled emotions first. The QA Superstar of our team, whom I have blogged about previously emailed everyone asking for statistics by each product they are responsible for: how many manual regression tests, how long they take to execute, how many automated test cases and their running time. One of the junior engineers I mentor mentioned that QA Superstar took one look at her accounting and said flat out that we needed more people. When I saw the super engineer’s report, my jaw nearly hit the floor. She has been handling seven active projects and a eighth one is just getting started. She is also working towards a Master’s degree and has to travel to another state once a month for this program. She never complains about her job or how much work she has, unlike the rest of us. She is not a horn tooter either.

Guess who didn’t get a ‘Far Exceeds’ rating for her performance review this year or a promotion to senior level? Principal SDET’s junior minion, on the other hand, got the ‘Far Exceeds’ rating and is probably going to get a promotion and a nice fat raise. He is bright and talented, but I don’t think he ‘far exceeds’ anything. He has not written a single test case for his projects. Nor does the automation he has written cover very much of anything. It never ceases to amaze me how little management knows about who is doing what and how much they are doing. Principal SDET and her junior minion work with an insular group of developers and it really seems obvious to me that they have all formed a mutual cheer-leading squad that is all about pumping each other up so they can get promotions and raises. If I were a manager, I wouldn’t trust anything people say about each other if they are constantly locked in a mutual ass-kissing embrace. Maybe my emotional intelligence and bullshit meter are just more finely tuned than most, but somehow, I don’t think so. I just think management in this particular organization isn’t very perceptive.

Now, on to why I am appalled. Today, I learned that one of the release engineers has been granted the privilege of full time remote employment. This is the second person from the release engineering team who has been granted this highly desirable privilege. He is moving to the Midwest to be nearer to his friends and I am honestly happy for him. He’s a nice guy and very conscientious about his job. However, there are several other employees who asked for full time remote employment who were denied. I am somewhat surprised that two members of the release engineering team were granted this privilege given that they are responsible for maintaining and servicing the two of the most critical systems for our organization like the build system and the source code control system. If either of them goes down, development and testing for hundreds of engineers on both coasts and in several foreign countries comes to a grinding halt.

The other employees who were denied the privilege are not responsible for anything that is even close to that level of critical impact. The one obvious difference between those who were granted the privilege and those who were denied it is gender. The two employees who were given this privilege are men. The three employees who requested it and were denied are women, all working in quality assurance, which is overwhelmingly skewed female. So, basically, male employees get the freedom to relocate to places where the cost of living is much lower while still earning a nice fat urban salary where their commute amounts to a 2 minute walk to their home office, but the women who asked for it have to be content with the oh so generous allowance of one day a week in which they do not have to burn two or more hours a day traveling to and from the office? My two day allowance was treated as it was a monumental favor. I am _grateful_. I personally have not requested full time remote employment. But the way in which I was told that I was being granted an exception to the rule was so patronizing and paternalistic.

Did I mention that the two employees on my team who were fired in the blood-letting recently are women over fifty? So, it makes me wonder if the junior engineer handling SEVEN. FUCKING. PROJECTS. BY. HERSELF!!! was not given an amazing performance review with a promotion because she is a woman whereas the junior engineer who did get the amazing performance review and likely promotion got it partly because he is male. There is of course, the mutual cheer-leading squad arrangement that definitely has something to do with it, but the gender difference keeps nagging at me. It hasn’t escaped my attention that the replacement for my boss who was fired two months ago is a man. And they hired a man for the QA director role. This company is literally swimming in strong and capable QA managers who are women who could have been masterful in that role. I know because I have been interacting with them over the course of the last year as I tried to master more and more of the domain knowledge I need to be effective in my role. Quality assurance is a profession that is dominated by women. But, when it came time to hire a director, we just _happened_ to end up with a man in that role. In a company where most of the managers and executives are men.

One of the women who left for another job in the last year told me a very interesting story trying to get approval to go to a conference related to her job function. The process is full of red tape annoyances, but it’s supposed to go through the employee’s manager and their manager’s boss. When she initially requested permission, her manager, also a woman, didn’t know anything about the conference, but started asking questions to determine if it met the criteria. Somehow, her boss got wind of this. This individual whom I christened as ‘Sir Architect’ in a previous post about the Framework Wars did not go to the employee’s manager to discuss the conference. Instead he went to one of her male peers and asked whether of not the employee should go to this conference. Sir Architect, leader of the effort to redesign our platform from scratch, also had full time remote employment while he worked with the company.

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