The Old Boys Club

  • Trading Places

    My first IT job after college was working for a power company at one of their plants. As you might expect, it was a mostly male staff in all departments. IT had 5 of us with one woman. I moved from their to the corporate office, with many more women, but in my development area of 12 or so, we had 3 or 4 women, or about 25%. I progressed from there to a 3 man staff, then a 14 person staff (2 women), then a 10 person department (3 women), a 20 person group (2 women), and finally to my current job of 1 person consisting of 1 man 🙂

    Why am I bringing this up? I saw a story recently about women leaving IT in greater numbers than men. And females not entering CS programs at a rate exceeding that of men. There's an interesting follow up from some women working in the business looking at the Gartner report.

    It strikes me as strange since I've seen more and more women every time I've attended a conference. I didn't think it was close to the 40-some percent mentioned, but it seemed like more woman were getting into the database field. Maybe they are and leaving other areas? Hard to say.

    I'll say this. I do think that we should have an even playing field for all genders, races, sexualities, ages, etc. If someone fits into your group and they can do the job, you should consider them, regardless of their classification. Of course that's hard to do when people tend to hire people they like and feel comfortable with, which means people of one race usually hire within their race before they go to others. Men tend to hire men, young people tend to hire young people, etc. Doesn't make it a great system, but it is a human nature thing.

    I hate to think that people are discriminated against in anything, but especially IT where skills have always mattered. But even more, I think it's good that we have a diversity of people working for us. Those different views, the other perspective, the richness of have a wide variety of people really enrich our companies and workplaces.

    I'd like to get more on this from woman, but for everyone out there, try this. The next time that you get to hire someone or influence a hire, look to expand the diversity and choose a qualified candidate that perhaps is very different from yourself.

    PS - There's a thread about this and we'll be bringing you some guest editorials this week from some women working in IT.

  • I really wish all of us would learn to use the english language properly.  Discriminate is defined - to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately.  (I.e., if candidate A has very little experience and candidate B has much experience, candidate A wins, irregardless of any identifier(s) with which we choose to shakle the candidates)  I discriminate multiple times every day and so do you.  Should I buy a hot dog or a hamburger for lunch?  Should I take the interstate or a side street to work this morning?  Discriminate has turned into a PC battering ram and it is high time we took back the true meaning of words.

    If we did not discriminate as employers, we would most likely end up with some very mediocre employees all in the name of "Diversity".  I believe the diversity trap is actually quite injurious and makes us think in terms of a person's skin color or ethnicity instead of their worth as a fellow employee for their skills.  What was it that Dr. Martin Luther said......(and I am paraphrasing) judge the man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character (or in this case the content of his skills).....and before the women get upset, feel free to throw in the inclusive "she" language to the above if it isn't obvious both sexes are included in that statement.

    I think if everyone took the tact that the most qualified person always wins, we could actually get a littel more work done and wouldn't be stimied by worrying whether we are going to be called sexist, bigoted, islamaphobic or homophobic (insert phobia here).

    Thanks for the topic Steve.

  • After 21 years of IT work in many different environments I have come to the conclusion that the typical manager will try to hire someone who is similar to the manager.

    I suspect it is some kind of psychology "comfort" thing.


  • While I agree that more care should be taken with the English language, I don’t think this is a case in point. There is more one meaning for the world ‘Discriminate’ in the dictionary and it is easy to discern to correct meaning from the context in which it is used. There maybe more appropriate words to use, but at least it was nothing like; I laughed so hard my sides literally split.

    As English is a live language, it is subject to change; at what point in time should we go back to too get the true meaning of a word?

  • Kenneth,

    I used to feel very strongly about what you said, but as I've gotten older, I'm not so sure.

    Defining the "best" person is hard. We don't have a universal "DBA Score", heck, we don't even give out grades on an MCDBA or any other measure. Is being a production DBA for Barnes and Nobles better than being a production DBA for Dell?

    The fact is that we have many shades of gray in how we determine if someone is a good fit for our company and if they are qualified. And we make mistakes constantly. Look at how many people are hired and don't work out or last more than a year.

    We also tend to "hire people like us" even if we're not overtly bigoted or prejudicial. That's human, we all have biases, but the whole idea of anti-discrimination laws are built on the notion of trying to force companies to look beyond those biases and consider a minority (race, gender, etc.) if all else is pretty close to equal.

    I've seen men afraid to hire a pretty woman, for a variety of reasons. And not want to hire an ugly woman, and joke about it. I can certainly sympathize with women and the next 3 days we've got some interesting perspectives on women in IT. Having some way to force men to think about hiring women, or minorities, or those outside their race, or anything else helps to counteract and balance the natural prejudices we have.

    I'd love to hear what the "most qualified person" consists of for any job. It's really hard to define and I don't mean to pick on you. I've struggled myself when I have to hire people. Who's "most" qualified? Because there's more than being able to write a T-SQL query to find duplicates the fastest.

    We should all learn to get along better. We should all learn to accept people for who they are and their differences. And we should get more work done. And we (myself included), probably should learn to write better.

    But we're human. We make mistakes and we aren't always nice so society needs to help us along at times.

  • Good points Gary, however, just because some new definition is added to an existing word doesn't mean the new definition has any more validity than the original.  It may have been added for the shear numbers of people who have adopted the new definitionin their lexicon.  Doesn't mean the definition is true, it just means that it may be popular. 

  • It strikes me as strange since I've seen more and more women every time I've attended a conference. I didn't think it was close to the 40-some percent mentioned, but it seemed like more woman were getting into the database field. Maybe they are and leaving other areas? Hard to say.
    Were those women American or from other countries?  I went to a lot conferences too.  I saw a lot more Indian/Asian every time (including man and woman.)
    When a foreigner want to study in this country, entering IT is the easier way to go because of job opportunity.  Remember Bill Gates kept saying US needed to issue more HI visa. 
  • Mike in Michigan, I've been around for a very good while myself. Your observation on a manager hiring one like themselves is correct in some situations. I have found 2 others as well to add to the list.

    1) A manager hiring excellent people so they can stand on the shoulders of their success - this is a great manager to work for.

    2) A manager hiring just below mediocre to mediocre that rules by fear and possibly intimidation - this is the worst manager to work for.

    I've found that #1 is the rarest and #2 is getting less and less common whilst the manager that you describe is most common. Personally I've been lucky and almost always ended up working for #1. Also, every place that I hace worked in my career has presented equal opportunities and compensation to all. Another thing I have noticed is that all the companies that I have worked for over the years have had almost the same gender ratio - roughly 30% female.

    RegardsRudy KomacsarSenior Database Administrator"Ave Caesar! - Morituri te salutamus."

  • Rudy

    You are lucky that you always ended up working for #1.  I rarely worked for manager #1.  Sometimes I worked for managers #2, that I would be happy.

    In some cases I worked managers #3 - that was a manager hiring his/her friends who did not know anything, the rest of the team had to pick up their work, and of course those people were the one who got the promotion.  I even worked for manager #4 who did not know anything and he thought no one knew anything so he watched over your shoulder all the time and drove you crazy.  The turnover rate of the department that had manager #3 and #4 was very high but the upper management did not care.  Probably the upper managerment was #3 or #4 too.

    In most company I worked for 30% were female.  In 4 companies, I was the only female on the IT team.  In one of the 4 companies, it was a division of a big company, one time the CEO came and it had a dinner for all the executive level people (salary level, IT developers were all salary level),  including me there were only 4 women out of 200 people at that dinner party. 

  • IT is an old buys club men work diligently everyday to keep it that way, I don‘t think it should be legislated but rather big companies in the computer industry should actively provide training and job incentives to encourage women.


    (We also tend to "hire people like us" even if we're not overtly bigoted or prejudicial. That's human, we all have biases, but the whole idea of anti-discrimination laws are built on the notion of trying to force companies to look beyond those biases and consider a minority (race, gender, etc.) if all else is pretty close to equal.)

    This is crux of the issue, if this can be changed things will improve for women.

    (Were those women American or from other countries? I went to a lot conferences too. I saw a lot more Indian/Asian every time (including man and woman.)

    When Microsoft started the .NET early adoption program in Houston the fourth largest city in the US two women completed the program both are not native born Americans  we ignored all the tricks but most important we both write Java before C#.  The tricks were men covering what was new in C# compared to C/C++ and Java.    I was one the other was of Chinese decent we come to the trainings early, bought a lot of books and talk code before the boys get there.  I noticed our native born female peers refused to buy books, even expected Microsoft to provide the books which I think was not practical because that training which lasted one year could cost at least $5,000 per person.


    Kind regards,
    Gift Peddie

  • I am inclined to agree with some excerpts out of the article referenced below. I have been in the business for 10 years. My role runs across several levels of management. I learned on the job and have grown up with my company (from a homegrown Dbase system to a combination of Oracle and SQL). I don't code, but I do help the programmers create a plan for the project, design their code, test it, validate it and improve on it. I find that this isn't always seen as important as some of the more obvious aspects (like writing the program).

    The other area is flexibility. I am a mother of two boys age 6 and 10 and I find myself gravitating toward future career options that will provide me with more flexibility because I want to attend more of their games, help them with their homework, etc while still making a good living. I always thought it would even out and IT would come around to encourage more balance, but it really isn't the nature of the beast (as I took a trouble call at 6:30AM this morning from my home).

    I do love the Goddess club though. I've often found that initially I am not taken seriously because I'm (if I do say so myself) an attractive female. I hope that women will continue to go into this field though - can't let you boys have all the fun

    "And perhaps it is even because (this one is a real hot button of mine) those skills that Gartner identifies as "female"--social skills, communication, language (all that "people stuff")--are not valued and rewarded by many of the near-retirement-age males who set salaries and match the people with the pink slips at time of layoff. Those skills are more typically viewed as expendable in tight times.

    Rarely in my 40-year career have I felt that my skills in writing, communicating, and relationship building have been truly valued. I've seen way too many times when the areas in which these skills are exercised have been cut because they are not "critical to operations" or "directly revenue producing." Gartner may believe that companies can take steps to reverse the trend of women moving out of the industry. But I don't expect that to happen any time soon--not until the skills that women bring to the party are truly validated. "

  • well, I used to work in a team consisting of three guys.  Over the 6 months, both of the other guys have quit and have been replaced by women. 

    So in my (very atypical, I'm sure) work environment, there's actually been a reverse of this trend...



  • "I really wish all of us would learn to use the english language properly."



  • ... how "inscrutable" ...



    RegardsRudy KomacsarSenior Database Administrator"Ave Caesar! - Morituri te salutamus."

  • The problem I have is the " encourage more women ...... " this is discrimation of the worst kind, and as I remarked in another thread if applied the other way around would probably cause law suits. The aspects of ethnic diversity and male / female make hiring a nightmare where potential employers are terrified of being sued for discrimination by rejecting a candidate ( and I've seen some of this in action ) all that will happen is that companies will outsource to where they don't have this issue and the jobs will cease to exist in the US/UK , then there will be no arguments.  Seeking DBA's for employers over the last few years has seen hardly any female DBA's ( an observation ) , smaller companies are often wary of employing women for the reasons of maternity leave and the basis that the women may suddenly become pregnant with all that entails - it can leave a small company, say one with a sole DBA, extremely exposed and vulnerable and maybe having to employ more expensive consultants to cover.

    Is this fair? I don't know really, if I were a small business would this influence me ? yes probably.  Business is not a friendship club or a support group and whilst the large corporates can usually manage all the rights and wrongs , I suspect there are more companies that are not. OK DBA's tend to be a bit solitary, I've only worked in teams in a few places, mostly there are two DBA's to give cover for a business - with a view to my comments above this can be a deciding factor when looking at female applicants.

    Just thought I'd like to play the other side.

    [font="Comic Sans MS"]The GrumpyOldDBA[/font]

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