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Dead Wood "III"

Why Me Wrote:

"But actually, you only have to be half as smart, if you're male, to get twice the respect"

I don't think it's about gender - I think it's about human nature.

Remember the play ground?  Children have a hierarchy.  When a new kid comes into town, he probably either has to pick a fight with someone, or start at the bottom and move up.

On the play ground, if you back down, you're an easy mark.  If you stick up for yourself, - who needs that hassle?  Let's go pick an easy mark ...

The end result is, that by trying to be considerate and understanding, you've made yourself look weak.  I'm guessing your company has a culture of win-lose - in every transaction, there is a winner and a loser.  When you look weak, people think they can win, so they take advantage.  (This is especially true if _they_ are treated as losers by thier boss.)

Personally, one of my great struggles has been how appropriately defend myself.  I'm a Christian, so the idea of turning the other cheeck is hard to reconcile with the idea of "fighting for myself."  It sounds like you the things you value - being friendly, compassionate, helpful, etc, is getting you percieved in ways that are less nice.

A few books that might help: 

How to Turn the Other Cheek and Still Survive in Today's World by Suzette Elgin - This book covers linguistic "tricks" to defray irrational attacks.  (Ever said something rational and had a reply that just totally floored you, no idea what to say, makes you look foolish?  This book will help)

Stop Walking on Eggshells: Mason and Kreger - On setting Appropriate Boundaries and Limits.

Death March: The complete Software Developer's Guide to surviving "Mission Impossible" projects - How to say hard things to superiors and make sure you are heard.

Quality Software Management Volume 3: Congruent Action (Gerald Weinberg) - Understand and Dis-arm Irrational Coping Mechanisms.

My only final thought is - you can stay and fight and try to make things better, and maybe learn a few things about human relations for the next time.  If you had to, with a Ph.D, if it's that bad, move on.

Other comments and suggestions?

I hope that helps,

Matt H.
Monday, November 18, 2002

I almost forget - 7 Habits of Highly Successful people by Covey.

Moving from Win/Lose to Win/Win is worth looking into, seriously.  Sure, it's a bit wacky and touchy-feely, but I think there is something of value there.


Matt H.
Monday, November 18, 2002

Thanks, I will try to get those books.
I agree that it's human nature, not gender. But assertiveness and status, in general, are much more natural for men than women. We don't have the same hormones or past conditioning. The Christian ideals are much easier for women, the capitalist ideals are much easier for men. We all have to find the right balance.

Why Me
Monday, November 18, 2002

You are presuming that the thing is a "playground problem".

Whenever somebody posts with the question "Why me" I'm tempted to say, "because you asked for it".

And I suspect Why Me asked for it because she didn't think it out to start with.

Converting the inconsistent HTML of 300 separate scientific articles is almost certain to involve a great deal of manual work that can't be automated. Yet this work which bores her sick is stlill probably too difficult to be passed on to the Betsy's of this world. She should have considered she might end up being stuck with it before the project started, and if necessary changed the specifications for the project (simply leaving the old stuff alone and linking to the new stuff only, or having the new system up and running while the old pages were slowly converted). After all, if Betsey's not going to do it, then somebody is going to have to.

Not showing anything to the end-user until a everything is finished is a recipe for disaster, and any Project Design for Dummies book will spell that out in 36 point caps.

Now Why me didn't make those decisions, her manager did, but she should have challenged them, since as far as we can see she is in effect responsible for the project. But it's no good reading the assertiveness books until you know what you've got to be assertive about in the first place.

Stephen Jones
Monday, November 18, 2002

Why Me> But assertiveness and status, in general, are much more natural for men than women... The Christian ideals are much easier for women, the capitalist ideals are much easier for men.

Do you really see things that way? I feel very sorry for you because you live and work in an environment that leads you to beleive that.

I have not followed the entire discussion from Dead Wood up through II and III, but that statement of yours caught my eye. I respectfully disagree, and hope that whatever situation you're in, that's got you so unhappy, is resolved.

Troy King
Monday, November 18, 2002

Her manager is probably not used to managing IT but instead R&D.  So he probably doesn't have the right professionalism for this project and is fairly redundant.

As for female vs male, it's the great unclear issue.  Is it perception or reality, that people respect her less?  I've known women who were so assertive that they'd be considered assholes had they been male... but instead people cheered them on.  And when I'm unhappy, little things rankle me that are 80% figments of my imagination.

However, I'm not in her shoes so I don't know what her situation is like.

Monday, November 18, 2002

The Christian ideals are much easier for women, the capitalist ideals are much easier for men

-- I think this is greatly due to society: Girls are supposed to wear pink dresses and be nice, whereas for boys, agression and strength are valued.

In my experience, gossip and in-fighting for women can be much worse than for men; it's just more passive-agressive and behind closed doors.

I wouldn't generalize this to say that Christianity works better for women ... that idea has conseqences.  But I certainly understand that being nice, getting stepped on, etc, is more expected for women than men.

My next piece of advice:  Stop concentrating on gender.  Perhaps, if you concentrate on performance and ability, other people will as well.  It may be harder to get into the club, but once you are accepted, the good people won't care.  And you shouldn't care about the bad ones. :-)

just my $0.02 ...

Matt H.
Monday, November 18, 2002

[I wouldn't generalize this to say that Christianity works better for women ... that idea has conseqences.]

No, that's not what I meant. Christian values (being compassionate, considerate of others, etc.) are needed by both men and women, but so are capitalist/competitive/Darwinian values needed, by both sexes. We need balance.
It's probably easier for the average woman to turn the other cheek than it is for the average man. However turning the other cheek won't necessarily work in every situation. Similarly, too much competitiveness can backfire, depending on the context.
I conditioned myself to try to get along with others, because that's the easiest way for women to win approval. It's very hard for women (and this is of course a generalization) to fight for what they want, knowing they will be considered a selfish bitch.
Of course, as someone mentioned, women have all kinds of nasty indirect ways to assert themselves. I have done plenty of bitchy gossiping and complaining about this situation.

Why Me
Monday, November 18, 2002

Why Me - Just curious, but in what field did you earn your PhD?

Monday, November 18, 2002

[Just curious, but in what field did you earn your PhD?]

I'm a cognitive scientist, specializing in natural language. But I work as a Perl and Java programmer.

Why Me
Monday, November 18, 2002

The thing that doesn't add up for me is you say that you've been in boring jobs before, then went out and got the degree to get past that, and now you're "hiding it as a deep dark secret."

Doesn't that just put you back where you started?  So why should you expect something different now?

I too followed the same path - a few college internships at engineering firms was enough to scare me into grad school for 6 years and a PhD.  I very nearly tossed that away in the interest of money when the software craze was in full swing, but THANK GOD that I didn't do that now.  I have a much more interesting and challenging job than I ever could have approached with a BS, and where I work the degree means something.

It looks to me like you should find a job which is suited to the degree and the level of intellectual stimulation that's going to be right for you - which is more than you're getting now.

As for what to do tomorrow, clarify what Betty's responsibilities are with your manager and then stick to your guns - for good.  Don't be afraid of being difficult - if it's rational, you will gain respect not lose it.



Robert Anderson
Monday, November 18, 2002

It's obvious. You are in love with Betsy. Act on your feelings and become one.

Kama Sutra
Monday, November 18, 2002

[It looks to me like you should find a job which is suited to the degree and the level
of intellectual stimulation that's going to be right for you - which is more than you're getting now.]

No, the job I was hired for would not be boring to me. I love programming, especially the more creative aspects of it. But even the relatively boring aspects of programming are interesting to me. There is less boredom involved in programming than in the scientific research I did, anyway.
The problem is I wound up doing <i>tons</i> of non-programming work.

Why Me
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Re the female/male thing:

Let's just say that, for extremely complicated reasons, I've managed to work in the IT industry as both... And my conclusions are;

As a female one gets treated with more deference. In general, there's a lot less tendency for discussions to turn into shouting matches. You do get assigned more junior work, you do get suprised expressions when you refuse to do secretarial things. While everyone expects even the weediest looking male software engineer to carry 19" monitors about, no-one expects girls to. It's not all bad.

As a male, one tends to get listened to more often and one doesn't have to put up with being patronised - it's amazing how, when in a female role, people assume I don't understand the subject under discussion, whereas as a male, people assume I do. But as a female you don't have the men around you constantly trying to prove they're the most knowledgeable on any given subject.

Oh and, and this is the really funny bit: you never get to have ideas in meetings. You can say things, but within seconds, any decent suggestions will have become remembered to have been suggested by one of the men.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Well you have just confirmed all the things that women in IT complain about. Yes, men have some disadvantages but most IT women would gladly trade.

Why Me
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

"No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

my desk calendar
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

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