As an avid reader of this blog you may think that we are perhaps overly critical of women, quick to point out their flaws as well as all the pitfalls in male-female interactions. Yet, this does not mean that we do not value women, quite the contrary. In fact, in this post I would like to highlight how women helped me advance at work. Without them, I would most certainly not be where I am today, but by this I do not want to imply that I have rocketed up the corporate ladder. I simply would be a few rungs below where I am now, and make a little less money and would have a less interested job if women had not appeared at key points in my career.
Years ago I worked on a great team full of well-educated and highly motivated white guys. Our manager was likewise a white guy. Instead of relying on heavy-handed project management processes like “Scrum” or “Agile”, he just assigned work to us that was not nearly enough to fill the week, with the understanding that you would use any time left over wisely, e.g. by honing your craft, studying details of our system, or looking for areas of improvement. I could have done this job indefinitely long as it is was genuinely enjoyable to work there. Yet, the big problem was that it was difficult to advance at this place due to extremely flat hierarchies, and salary raises where quite modest, too. At that time, there was even an announcement that no raises would be given out at all that year.
At that company, despite fiscal constraints, money was spent lavishly otherwise, though. Hiring was strong, with lots of talent supporting the company’s efforts in key areas such as Diversity and Inclusion, Sustainability, or Human Resources. There was a sense of unhappiness about this, yet work in the STEM teams was quite satisfying and the conditions were better than at many competitors, based on what I gathered. However, only thanks to a woman was I able to improve my situation. It began with my manager telling us that he was going to pursue a different opportunity at the company but – fear not! – everything was sorted out as they have been working hard on finding a replacement.
My manager was supposed to take up a new job in the company within a few short weeks, due to a recent organizational change, yet we were supposed to have a new manager within a couple of weeks as well. It puzzled me that a replacement was available that soon as I live in a country in which the standard notice period is three months. Thus, if someone external comes in quickly as a full-time hire instead of a contractor, this is already possible if they have already quit their job (or have gotten fired). Alternatively, they could come in from abroad but due to visa issues, you would still look at a months-long wait. After I learned that we had this amazing female candidate who ticks all the boxes, was highly motivated, and was eager to take over this team, I asked my manager for her name as I was eager to check her out on LinkedIn.
Having gotten the name of this incoming female manager, I visited LinkedIn, i.e. Facebook for corporate stooges, and had a look. I went through her profile with my mouth open and slowly said, “Get … the … fuck … outta … here”. This chick had no technical degree, no relevant experience, and a bizarre career path that led her to becoming an “Agile Coach” and acquiring a few worthless certifications, which she bragged about on her profile. Her total work experience was below the average of the team she was going to lead as a manager, and she was going to make a good chunk more money than any of us. We had a quick meet-and-greet where I was exposed to her comically bad English. Technically, I still had a few weeks left on my probation period albeit from the employer-side, they had waived it and had already concluded probation early. After a call with a lawyer from the labor union, I was relieved to learn that this was a unilateral decision, meaning that I could still easily walk away from this job for a few more weeks. Thus, I reached out to a few companies, got an offer with a salary bump within days, and resigned afterwards. Without this woman this would not have happened, so I am really grateful for this.
A similar story happened with another manager later in my career. When I joined, I had no direct manager as the position was still vacant, so the guy one rung further up the ladder checked in on us every once in a while. Then we got a manager, surprisingly another woman who had no idea about the work we were doing. She was so clueless that she did not even realize that her supposed leadership was about to sink our year-long project as her obsession with planning caused excessive overhead and led to endless frustration. We were told to break down our project into small chunks and estimate them by hours, and if we did not deliver the work by the agreed upon time, we got angry rants on how we need to improve our estimations. This bitch even blew a casket when we did more work than we had scheduled because this also meant that our planning sucked. On top of messing with our work, she was very active in diversity hiring and got a bunch of women on board who were worse than dead weight as their productivity was negative.
Unlike last time, I could not just walk away so I had to serve my three-months notice period. She seemed genuinely surprised when the two most productive members of the team quit in short succession and could not explain it because we “clearly showed that we embraced her planning”. What we did was give exaggerated estimations which would have been very difficult to miss, and then we slacked off; this was during Covid and mandatory work-from-home so for a while I made it a habit to take long baths in the afternoon. Despite all those shenanigans from the team, our estimations were on effing point, hitting 100% every single time. The next job I got after this nightmare turned out to be an excellent fit for me. I am once again surrounded only by dudes, there is very little virtue-signaling going on, and I am much happier about the work I am doing as I can better utilize my skills. Again, without a woman showing me the way, I would not have ended up at this place. Getting the chance to do more enjoyable work, in addition to enjoying a moderate pay bump, is a clear win in my book.
As you can see, women can really help you along in your career and with their actions ensure that you end up in a place where you can do more fulfilling and impactful work. They also look out for your financial comfort and literally push you to where you get paid more. Had I only had male managers, I do not think I would have gotten such opportunities. Thus, more women in the workplace are a clear win for everyone, and this is even more true for female managers. Even if they have no idea what they are doing, they help you improve your lot in life.