Tech Managers: Time to Grow Up and Manage Like Humans

I read Technology's Man Problem in the New York Times this weekend. I thought those days were long gone. I guess not.

Since when it is acceptable to make any comment about anybody's body part at work? Hello? Are we in the 7th grade? I thought “men” were past that. The gentlemen I know are past that nonsense. So are the gentlewomen. There are reasons I call you my “gentle readers.”

Did you see the statistics in the article?

Among the women who join the field, 56 percent leave by midcareer, a startling attrition rate that is double that for men, according to research from the Harvard Business School.

Unacceptable. Why would you remove half the people who can make your products better? Did you read Here are all the quantifiable reasons you should hire more women? Does that sound like what we do in high tech:

  • Create more innovative outcomes
  • Stronger financial performance
  • More diverse teams have a lower turnover rate
  • Teams with women have patents cited more often

The technical managers I know, know how to write ads that are gender neutral. They know how to interview for cultural fit. They understand that culture is what you can discuss, what you reward, and how you treat each other. They offer jobs that are opportunities, not a long list of tools. (They have read Hiring Geeks That Fit.)

Technical managers, you can be savvy. You can hire people of all kinds. They don't have to look like you. They can be women, men, young, old, whatever. The more innovation you need in your product, the more diverse you need your team.

You need people who can get along enough with each other to work together, and who can do the work. You don't need people who are carbon copies of each other.

No other industry would tolerate this sexism or bigotry. Let's stop it now.

If you are an unseasoned manager, learn how to manage and how hire. It's not a problem to admit you don't know. It's a problem to continue to do it badly.

If you work in an environment where there is sexism or bigotry, stop allowing it. You can stop creating a culture that doesn't allow women to thrive. You can do your part.

Let's create an environment in which every person can do great work. No matter who they are. It's time to manage as if we are all human. The last time I looked, we are.

5 thoughts on “Tech Managers: Time to Grow Up and Manage Like Humans”

  1. I am an engineer, up til recently the only ‘feminine’ looking female in the places I have worked. During many important discussions with my current boss he has ended our conversation with ‘well you’re a very pretty girl’…. as if it makes up for anything bad that may be effecting me in my life.

    1. Linda, that’s sexism. Have you given him feedback? “When you call me a pretty girl, you demean my value in the workplace. I would like to stop doing that. Can you please stop that?” That’s the feedback “recipe” from Behind Closed Doors.

      He may not realize he is doing this. First, try feedback.

  2. Pingback: Five Blogs – 8 April 2014 | 5blogs

  3. I guess stupid people do stupid things.

    I once worked with a gentleman, and I use that term with respect, whose wife was a pioneer in that she was the first woman in the state of Tennessee to graduate the state’s university with a science degree. This gentleman, Roy is is name, had a plain, “rural speak” way of saying some things. For those “men,” and I use the term rather loosely here as they are best described as little boys, who refer to women’s body parts on the job, Roy would say, “We’ll give you a push broom because if your mouth is in the gutter, that’s where we’ll have you work.”

    During my last years in the government, we had a group of little boys who would run their mouths and talk about the young ladies on the job. The supervisors were shocked because they had to implement government policies regarding a hostile workplace. That was the subject of their angst, the need to implement policies. They were not infuriated about little boys acting stupid, only about having to be the bad guy and reading the regulations. I am not sure who was worse, the little boys or the regulation-reading managers.

    If you are a man and stand by watching little boys in the workplace, you are not a man, just a little boy as well.

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