Monday, May 16, 2011

Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit.

A friend of mine that is a network administrator for a Silicon Valley company sent me this post. Its an interesting post about the only woman in an IT department.


I work as an IT consultant (Windows Engineer) at a medium-sized firm. I came on at the end of January, worked for a couple of months, and then was gone for 3 weeks on my research trip. When I returned, my recruiting firm told me that the company would either hire me at the end of my contract (around the end of May) or let me go.

Before I left on the trip, my manager had told me that he had one position open for another engineer, and I was first in line for it - but he wanted to check with his team. The team consists of three engineers (one associate, one engineer, and the team lead), and all of them are male - I'm female.

When I talked to my manager about the upcoming end of my contract, he said that he did have a position open, but due to some departmental changes, it was now for an associate engineer - which would be a pay cut for me, but with benefits included. He asked me if I was still interested, and I said I was, as long as I had the opportunity to become more involved in the projects that the Windows team was working on (I normally handle the ticket queue, server application support, etc...)

He polled his team, and then came back to tell me that he did not have a position to offer me now, but would be able to extend my contract for 3-6 months to see if the situation improved. He said that he felt the current team dynamic was good, and for whatever reason, I didn't seem to be fitting in with them. He said he was 100% satisfied with my technical ability, and felt I had handled all of my assignments skillfully and quickly. I said I had noticed this slight distance myself, and asked what I might do to improve our cohesiveness.

He gave me what I now consider to be a ridiculous example - asking me what kind of phone I have (just a basic Samsung) and then saying that all three of the engineers have rooted phones. I used to do all sorts of stuff with phones I had in the past, but honestly, I just don't care right now - I wanted a brick this time. (I didn't express this to him.) He felt that rooting your phone showed "a true passion for technology" which I might not share. I said that I do have a strong interest in technology, I just don't bring up a lot of my outside interests at work. (programming, web design, gaming, etc...)

He also mentioned that I should "go to lunch with the team more often" - by this he means over in the cafeteria. I do, but they usually get up and go over as a group, leaving me to come over with the other consultant. I sit at the same table, and I've tried to engage them, but they're not very responsive.

I suggested that he assign me to projects with one or more of the engineers, so I could get to know them better, but he felt like I should simply go and ask them if they had anything for me to do. I've tried that this week, and got a project which I worked on - but now the team lead "doesn't have time to look at" my work on it. I tried again today, and the team lead directed me right back to the manager.

I honestly don't know what else to do - I'm polite (good mornings et al), I make small talk, I try to be helpful and volunteer for tasks, etc... I seem to get along much better with other teams/people in this same area, which is odd. I've worked with plenty of guys before (pretty much my whole career, since I'm in IT), and I've never quite encountered this before. I'm not shy, but I'm not extroverted - I like to come in and do my job, and sometimes stand around and chat next to the water cooler. I initially thought that the long break might have created some distance, but I've been back since April, and it's not getting any better.


Click here to read this post and the comments.

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