Being a woman in tech, I only recently started advocating for myself at work about advancement opportunities. Because of this I wanted to ask this question to my male counterparts. When you have 1:1's with your direct reports and talk about career growth / aspirations what is your managers’ response typically? I’d like to gauge how my experience (negative) differs from others. For instance are you met with blockades, enthusiasm, dread, etc?

likefunnyhelpful
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I agree with this. Joining the current company I work for after UC Berkeley grad school in CS, you should’ve seen the faces of the males on my team whenever they double asked me if I really finished such a prestigious school with such a high degree. Meanwhile, none of that “what really?” existed towards the male counterparts on my team when they would speak of their equally “wow” background. Moreover, many of the projects I was the main contributor of would get named after my male teammates who did only 10% of the code and documentation. And it annoyed me, and really hurt my feelings deep down every single time their name was called out in the meeting to speak of project progression, and not mine. Every time the service I created was called “theirs” just because they were more senior than me. It hurt my feelings I’m not going to lie. But hey, I am so super grateful for that. Why? Because:
1. It hardened me. I became much more tough, and less sensitive on these issues because to me, how I do my work is more important than the praise I get for it. After a while, the team started calling referring to me as the owner of my many services and not someone else. Because my effort did not decrease by their lack of appreciation. Actually, the opposite.
2. I started speaking up more, giving back as much of my opinion as I have during all different types of discussions. And when progress on the project I’m involved in is asked, I step in first and communicate clearly and strongly. And I noticed the shift that happened: my name is called out every time now when asked about the progress.

Conclusion? Sexism in tech is real. You will get put down because of your gender. But that’s all at first. If you put in enough effort and as much of you on the table as you possibly can, you will earn the respect you deserve. But most importantly, you will grow into an even stronger engineer and woman. And that’s to be applauded.

likesmartuplifting

Having said that, I think it's important to push for equal rights where possible. If I see any imbalances , I definitely ask and never step back to say what is wrong is wrong.
It's a shame that this has to be done even in 2022.

Every manager should be *excited* to get their reports promoted. It should be a part of every 1:1 discussion: “Where are you in your career progression and what can I help you with?” Having more senior reports, and having a track record of growing reports in their careers, reflect well on the manager and should be rewarded by the company.

Your manager should be advocating for you up the chain and across the company. They should be using their knowledge and clout and connections to find opportunities for you to grow, improve your skills, and stand out. They should be working with you to find specific, actionable deltas between where you are and where you need to be to progress, and helping you achieve them. Once you *do* achieve them, the company should be quick to promote you - or expect to lose you!

If the above doesn’t match your experience, then you have a bad manager or a bad company, or both. It’s worth trying to work out which it is, because many good companies have dud managers, so don’t be *too* hasty to jump ship.

If your manager is failing at the above, but are well-intentioned and you have a good relationship, it might be possible to help them improve. Try bringing up what you’d like to see from them in your next 1:1, and gauge the response. But even then, it’s not a great situation because you have to wait for your manager to get their shit together before you can even *start* working on your shit. :)

FWIW I’ve been doing this a long time, and it took me a long time (and a lot of managers) to realize the above, so don’t feel bad if you hadn’t. Basically, I’ve been around the block, and I know what good and bad managers look like - the good ones really do exist, and everyone deserves a food manager. :)

likeuplifting

So fully agree. My job as a manager is to make sure my folks are on a career path they want to be on. One of my guys wants to move to a developer role down role. I see my job as making him super ready when he goes that route... No way I want to hold him back...

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At the risk of being cancelled...i dont disagree that sexism impacts women everyday in tech, and in life. But my (considerable) experience (in tech) tells me that we are in a hyper-sensitive environment right now for women and 'under represented' persons. Generically speaking, companies are tripping over themselves to demonstrate their sensitivity and diversity. So the deck is severely tilted in your favor TODAY...generally...YMMV.

On a personal note, I'll say that while tech has been male dominated throughtout my life, ive seen strong tech woman do well. So ive havent seen blatent sexism....but dont deny it exists.

As for myself and managers ive seen, we/they want to promote the best people. But many have no understanding of leadership and dont know how to give critism withou losing you as a productive employee. Other just dont see it as their job to coach and mentor you. You need to have the conversation on your strengths and weeknesses. How can you do better, demonstrate the behaviors they value. You need to demand this unapologetically. That doesnt mean youll like the answers, but then you know its time to move on

At the end of the day, nobody should be surprised when their fired or promoted....if their manager is doing his/her job

likesmartfunny

I think you’re referring to my comment.

I was not saying there is a gender based skills gap. I’m saying there is an unproductive focus on gender these days. Things have never been better for women. Companies are bending over backwards to make sure we feel supported. But still the constant beating of the drum continues. It is exhausting and makes women, like the OP, think there is this master fraternity that passes special deals amongst themselves and lives to hold us down. It’s just not true. We have the equal rights that our foremothers fought so hard for. Let’s make use of them by focusing on productive, rather than destructive and divisive, activities!

likesmartfunny

I second the OP as another woman in tech. We're often push aside or ignored or minimized. I'm a delivery engineer and I've gotten over 2 million in sales funneled into the AMs pipeline for my customer in the past 2 years and all I've gotten is a thanks, good job, and a couple of lunches. It took my director 4 years to realize I didn't have "the standard performance bonus plan" implemented, and I haven't had a performance review, pay raise, or IDP since I started almost 10 years ago.

Am I happy with that? No. Why do I stay there? I have kids in school and I'm the primary household income for a family of 5. Would I like to have a different situation? Yes. However I'm trapped until my youngest goes to college and I don't have to pay child support anymore. Do I want a career change, yes. I want to pivot my 25 years of telecomm, voice, and video with a masters in network architecture into devops and automation. Have I asked for the chance? Yes. Then I get told my skills aren't on par... I run a system supporting 150K users with 99.999 percent uptime BY MYSELF plus doing the role of trusted advisor, pre-sales, post sales implementation and support.

All this for a measly $115k a year in the DC area which is barely paying for my bills.

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Same, did design work which garnered 85 million in funding (you read that correctly 85M) but was included in a large company layoff leaving them with zero designers. Then a 52M deal based on my prototype, company cancelled the project and laid the team off (we could have been transferred to other projects)

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I think I have someone for you that would be really good to give you some insight. He runs an engineering team at Square and is constantly advocating for women...

I’ve worked with him for probably about 6 years before Square at a startup that I co-founded and I really think he might be able to give you some valuable insight.

Standby 🤞(he’s currently in a meeting at the moment..)

likeupliftinghelpful

My managers have worked with me to clarify what the evaluation criteria are for the next level and I make sure to position some ways I can achieve those criteria and get agreement from my manager. If there are areas of improvement I listen and work on them, if there is praise I keep doing what led to that praise.

As a manager myself the approach I have taken is quite similar. I am known for being blunt to a fault. I will highlight what is great and what needs work.

Also it is in my best interest to have all of my subordinates and peers and leaders to be performing optimally and succeeding in their careers. Their race, gender,political affiliation, insert other characteristic here, are irrelevant. It's not my money So I will do what I can to promote and build competence

I am 100% sure that there are people with bias who will hold back others based on any number of characteristics, not just your gender. The number of those people are not substantial. The number of people who fail to negotiate effectively or fail to even take a shot because of anxiety around failing to get what they want IS statistically significant.

likehelpful

I should also add the number of just shitty managers is also statistically significant meaning they are doing a bad job of promoting all of their subordinates, again regardless of their background, gender etc.

The people who get over the shitty managers are the ones who know how to play the game and either find the right people to help push their case for a promotion, lay out the case for the manager so clearly they don't have to think or strong arm them into acting.

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I’ve got things I need to improve, but then, comes performance review time, I got evaluated on different criteria altogether. I think my boss likes my team mate (a man) more than me, and he got offered ownership of the things I worked on without me being considered at all, because of “leadership”.

On thé 1:1, it’s all cheery and sunny, until performance review time, that is

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Unfortunately that "all sunny until performance review time" happens more often than it should. As a male manager who at times has been "coached" by HR because I was overly blunt, direct, "harsh" in my coaching style, that wasn't generally an issue between myself and my direct reports. That said I did have some managers who typically avoided the "hard conversations" until performance review time. Their reasons ranged from trying to always foster a positive and supportive developmental environment to being cowards. No one likes having unpleasant conversations, I get that. I also get that in today's work environment, its harder than ever to get the balance right, heaven knows, at least two HR VPs would say, I rarely did. For my part, at this point in my career, I fully accept that I am far better interacting with demanding and difficult customers than difficult employees and thankfully, that's where I am able to direct the majority of my efforts. I only really have two things to add that may be of use on this topic. First, when you get those unpleasant surprises, inconsistent feedback during performance reviews how do you respond/challenge your manager? I know this can and often is an unpleasant, scary thing for an employee to do, but over the course of the prior review period what feedback were you expected to notice and understand to make corrections and adjustments that you did not? Do you ask the manager that directly? You can't fix/change what you don't know you are doing less than excellently if you don't know what it is; and if clairvoyance is an undocumented requirement of your position at this company, I recommend you leave both, especially in this era of historically low unemployment and high demand for skilled technical professionals. Second, if/when you feel you are getting cheered on, and "rah, rah'ed" challenge that as well and push your manager to provide more substantive feeedback at that time. If you're not getting some feedback on a more regular basis (monthly or at least quarterly) feedback from your manager on your projects and taskings, then proactively seek it out. In give your manager a more frequent chance to give you feedback, if he/she is a good manger they'll appreciate that; if they are a coward it will force their hand.

I think my manager is very supportive of my growth & development, and he doesn’t treat me differently in 1:1s or performance reviews (I think, don’t have much rapport w the guys to ask). However, he doesn’t actively seek to recruit more women even though I’m the only one in my area. So while he’s not like a diversity champion, he’s truly treating me as equal and I think that’s ok for me bc to be fair I don’t really bring it up even though it’s in the back of my mind (and I don’t expect him to be a mind reader)

likesmart

I am a woman in IT, management role. I can share with you what my experience was. I had to spell it out for my manager years ago that I want to move into next level, and ask him what it will take for me to get there. He was surprised and said he did not realize I was interested in advancement. I was taken aback by why he would think that....
What I learned from it: you need to be very specific and clear about what your goal is, and seek feedback on what you need to work on or what skills to develop to get there, then seek opportunities that will allow you to develop those skills. Yes, you need to be your own advocate and speak up for yourself, and sometimes stand up for yourself, sounds like you got that part right. Bottom line is, nobody is a mind reader so tell what you want/where you want to get, and work on the plan on HOW to get there. Best of luck!

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Part of it is that many people in technical roles like their technical role and don’t want to move up into management roles. That’s maybe why they don’t make the assumption that anyone does want it.

In life in general, you can’t expect others to know what you want without you explicitly telling them.

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In my experience, most managers/organizations don't want you to advance. If they like the work you're doing, what's in it for them to lose a valuable member of the team. They just have to go through the trouble of hiring a new employee, onboarding them, and training them to do the work you're already doing. Its a very limited perspective of what you might be able to do at the company. I moved into sales, decided it wasn't for me, and unless I was a top salesperson (I wasn't), they blocked my ability to leave. My choice was to either become a top-5 salesperson or quit the company.

At my current company, there's an active push to move you along towards your next role, so if you desire to move, there are places to go.

This doesn't address sexism though, just stating that what you might be seeing as sexism may just be overall reluctance to move anyone.

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They’ve moved several males into various departments when there was interest of exploring other career paths. Absolutely no females have had this opportunity.

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My experience may not be typical but that's because my manager formerly worked in my capacity... when I asked what it would take to move up to Sr.CE , he was earnest; "Budget+Opportunity+Timing" was the abstract he gave me, and then provided some targeted guidance on being intentional in all actions aligned with Company strategy, e.g. driving Azure consumption, Subscription elevation, et. al. Even with that, there needed to be an alignment of conditions tying back to "Budget+Opportunity+Timing" for it to happen within my current domain. So he respects me with honesty in saying that even with making all the right moves, there are no cause/effect guarantees.
Again, I may just be blessed with a conscientious servant leader for a manager, relative to others...

likesmart

My last manager wasn’t receptive and more or less dismissed it. I took that opportunity to learn how she views me, build my network, and am waiting on an offer for role a level higher than my current one on a team that is more directly in line with our core business.

FWIW I’m a white male.

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I needed this great example, thank you for sharing.

Once you open the conversation, there's no standard. Like there are good and bad managers, at a finer granularity and with more variability there are different interactions. Idk where specifically gender ranks in all this, but there are enough hidden factors in play that you won't be able to predict your experience or attribute the outcome to any particular personal attribute that isn't explicitly pointed to. Best you can do is take the feedback you've been getting and make the most of it for crafting your pitch and responses.

Some managers will take you through the process and might even ask you to fill the HR justification forms out yourself. Some will outright lie to you about putting things in or about how the politics or budget stand. Some will be honest and explain why not. Some will say they were gonna do it anyway and give it to you. Some will brush your request off. Some will deflect and talk about performance. Some will prioritize your underperforming colleagues so it's easier to retain them, and of course not tell you. Point is, there are a lot of options...

likehelpful

My team is mine to manage. I keep meticulous performance deltas so I can back up and justify any decisions I make. Tje respond sees I get are almost always favorable

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Then you are working to be a good manager. Keep doing it and keep making sure you communicate clearly with your reporting people about it. If you decide to mentor someone, teach them the same. But also make sure you educate yourself on the mental differences between men and women too if you haven't done it already. Women are much more like to work collaboratively and not push how much they contribute to an overall task. So you have to really watch and make sure you are looking at the subtle things too. Keep it up. I wish I had someone like that when I was younger. Now would be nice too but I'm cynical now.

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My first company out of college was awful about this. Aside from feeling out of place for gender I don't have a traditional background and did not understand how advocating for your own career progression etc was supposed to work at all. My manager was well intentioned but a brand new manager and got no training and didn't get what he was doing at all. The entire team suffered, but the people who were most like him he had an easier time talking to and inherently trusted more and they did better. I think in many tech companies this is what leads to women and other underrepresented groups having worse experiences, not malice as some people are suggesting.

Asana has been absolutely amazing in comparison. I find that what works best is being very direct with my manager and asking for input. "here is where I would like to be, what do you think I need to do to get there?" Then we make an action plan that basically is he says " okay here are the requirements of that role, here's what you're already amazing at, here's what you are competent at but could stand to practice, and here's where you need to grow. I think that is you seek out x and y opportunities and focus on z project, I'll have the evidence I need that you've grown in those ways@

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As a woman in tech I think it’s dangerous to assume that you aren’t getting career coaching because you’re a woman. There are so many other possibiiites and you are less likely to be discriminated against now more than ever. Most companies will fire a white guy /throw him under a bus in order to hire a woman to take his place. If you want to move up, go get it.
Maybe your manager just sucks at his job? (I think most managers really suck at career growth discussions) Maybe you’re not doing a good job w self promotion and not making it clear what you want to do?

Long story short: Be direct with you manager and show him your chops. ;)

likesmart

To some extent, there are issues and inequities out there, but this is true of almost every industry. If you look deep enough, if you do some research, you'll find that every industry has its share of issues.

Advise to OP and anyone else interested regardless of who you are: I belong to a minority group in tech, and I've gotten to my position not by waiting on the sidelines for opportunities to contribute, but rather by being extremely hard working and open to learning both at work and on my own, being specific with my goals when talking to my manager(s), and making my contributions known. Anyone can be a super hard worker, but if you don't somehow let others see/know what you've done, you're likely not going to get promoted and/or earn the respect of others. You can do this by presenting your work, if your company doesn't have a venue to do that, then create one (i.e. weekly/bi-weekly engineering/product demos, whatever), you can also teach/mentor your team others, blog about what you do, share it with your manager, collect metrics about the impact of your work, and more.

At the end of the day, YOU are the *primary* barrier to your own success, *not* other people. Everyone's situation is different and everyone is affected by different things, but that shouldn't stop you from being resilient, working harder than the average person, and being a better version of yourself every day.

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Aging but unfortunately still applies today, When working for Hughes Aircraft Company, after completing my Master's program on a Full Study Fellowship from Hughes Aircraft and returning to work, 1) did not receive a promotion like my male counterparts, 2) for almost a year, I completed projects and presented plans to my Section head for a path to promotion to which he finally admitted, "I'm never going to promote you"! If I knew what I know now I would've marched right down to HR to file a grievance, instead I have my 2 weeks notice and never looked back. I've experienced similar encounters with the men I've worked with or sought lateral or promotional opportunities with ever since. Speak up for yourself but also be familiar with are grounds for discrimination grievances and never shy away from a battle that could help you or the women behind you.

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Every manager should be happy.Great
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Most were positive experiences; but, i found that the bigger the company is the less they work with employees even though they preach complete assistance. Small companies on the otherhand are driven to much by the whims of cliques and unless you belong your talents and value add are ignored. Honestly, most companies preach performance evaluations and handle themas a joke.

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They usually take me seriously, and they may be dismissive of me (had at least one that definitely was) moving forward within the company, but then it's assumed that I would move on.

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