Wednesday 9 April 2008

Just because I'm female, don't expect me to nurture you

On my current engagement, I work with very good people. There is something to learn each and every day from these guys. They aren't all "guys" but I use that term in a general way. The majority are men which is what you'd expect in IT, obviously :)

Interestingly enough, as the stress levels have risen due to the end of the project approaching people are starting to feel the pressure. Everyone is holding up pretty well. I have no bets on anyone going postal (or codal) and that's rare at this point in the journey.

My patience is waning with certain behaviours that are going on and has been for a while. This usually exhibits in me focusing on what needs to be done and moving forward. On Tuesday, I was put in a situation that would see me supporting and teaching a developer. After considering our timeframe, I very clearly stated that I didn't have the time at the moment but would consider including them somehow. There was shock and disgust with my unwillingness to immediately nurture a team member.

There are people in similar roles to me who do not have the nurturing role pushed on to them. If they are asked the same question and they just say no, they don't outrage the requester.

Why is nurturing behaviour expected from me? I'm always open to help people and enthusiastic to mentor, support and pair. Right now deadlines and reality don't permit. Maybe it's the way I say it. I care about my team mates. I care about my work. I just don't want to be everyone's mum simply because I'm the woman on the team.


Andy said...

Is it possible that the shock is more to do with the fact that in the past you have been willing to help, and that now you don't have the time?
Maybe your colleagues perceive it as a change in your attitude rather than a change in the environmental context.

If you have other evidence to back up your supposition that it's due to your being a woman, please elaborate, but your rant leaves me unconvinced.

I hope that you have not jumped to the wrong conclusion, as that will do much to harm your position.

Damana Madden said...

Jumping to the wrong conclusion would not cause harm to my job. Who would want to work at a place like that? Any place that would judge you on that is not worth working for. I am good at what I do and a decent person. Position unchanged.

As to convincing you - this is a rant. It's about expression :) Why don't you convince me that I should justify and explain each and every challenge I face to you?

Andy said...

I wasn't talking about your work position, I was thinking more of your position on equality.

Jumping to the wrong conclusion, ie. seeing sexism as a factor where it may not be, devalues your argument when sexism _is_ a factor. (The individual who cried wolf)

It doesn't sound like you were facing a challenge, it sounded like someone asked you to do something that under normal circumstances you would do, and then was caught off guard when you refused.
I don't have the context, but I wouldn't jump straight to the conclusion that was going to annoy me, especially if there is a less irritating alternative explanation.

You don't have to convince me, or justify yourself to me, why should you?

Damana Madden said...

I do not believe I am crying wolf. I regularly blog about issues about women in computing from my point of view and using my experiences.

If in this case the example did not convince you then that's fine. The point of my post is to say that I am not going to nurture people so don't ask me to.

Damana Madden said...

btw, if you don't like what I say then please feel free not to read my blog or maybe even write something yourself in response.

It's much easier to black hat and make accusing comments when you put nothing out there yourself.

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