An Open Letter from a Male Project Manager to Women in IT.

This letter was originally intercepted by undercover agents employed by the Pointy Haired IT Manager Committee For The Maintenance Of Status Quo and destroyed before it could be made public. But they left a proverbial copy at the printer. And in this post, I present that to you.

The author of this letter is a long time IT project manager and is said to have been fired for his job for suddenly contracting a Jim-Carrey-in-Liar-Liar-type disease.

Hello IT Leddies,

I must first introduce myself. I have been in IT for 8 years now. Why, you ask?

Reason #1

itpayeffort.jpg

Reason #2

itskills.jpg

That’s why.

But this letter is about something else. This is a Thank-you letter. In gratitude to all of you. As a Project Manager, I owe a large part of my career growth to all of you. One might even say that it came at your cost. I am indebted to you for letting me get away with a very subtle, hard-to-detect and practically ineradicable form of male chauvinism despite working in an industry that pats itself on the back for being more women-friendly than any other industry.

On an average, IT firms in India tend to have between 30-40% women on their rolls. So cumulatively, you are a pretty large group. But if we just take a count of the number of women who are Vice-presidents and above, it’s a ridiculously small number. So even if I was not a visiting professor at the Maximegalion Institute of Slowly and Painfully Working Out the Surprisingly Obvious (MISPWOSO), one of you could still look at these figures and say “Hey. C Here. Something is rotten in the state of Java”. But you don’t. He he.

Managing IT projects is hard enough, but not without these “guidelines” to “effectively” manage projects to make my life “easier”. These have been handed down to me by IT managers of previous generations.

  • If you are a girl, you can be put in testing or quality assurance. Guys will generally decline or threaten to quit if offered these positions. So when you need to find 100 people (by the proverbial EOD) to do testing, QA, DB administration and configuration management (all considered by guys to be dead-end jobs), it is so easy to sweet talk you into “how strategically important this is for (company)”, herd you in, and start the billing. Ka-Ching.
  • If you are girl over 25 years old and single, I can coolly consider you a risk from a resource planning perspective because you could get hitched any time, and marriage usually tends to involve one of
  • Resignation, because your in-laws don’t like working girls.
    • You are likely to decline abroad opportunities because hey, chances are, your husband is not going to quit his job to join you.
    • You are likely to become pregnant any time and therefore a potential 3 month billing-loss candidate as far as I am concerned.If your would-be works in another city, chances are, you will demand a transfer, and HR departments in IT companies hate transfers because their promotions and bonuses depend entirely on preventing them.

      So I thank you for letting me simplify planning by letting me apply the rule – “Girls over 25 and single, keep them offshore in non-critical positions, preferably in QA, testing, DB/Server admin and configuration management”. My brain works much better when I don’t have to consider too many parameters. And I have you to thank for that.

      Promotions are difficult things to handle, but you make that easy for me as well.

      • I hardly ever need to worry about offering you “Architect” positions, because
      • My boys club mates tell me that drawing boxes in powerpoint slides and writing a bunch of lies in concise bullet points is not something girls can do well. Everybody in my peer Project Managers’ group tells me that men are better and more convincing liars and can coolly and calmly justify wrong decisions, something an architect needs to do all the time.
      • In any case, you need to be about 28 or so before you become an architect, by which time, you are probably married and have kids and cannot make 1-month trips abroad or stay back in office till 1 am in the night, and therefore even if you are perfectly capable of being smart and productive in the 8 hours you work in a day, I don’t need to promote you. I thank you for letting me encourage a culture of “Work more, not work smart”. It’s simpler you know. Promote anybody who sends me emails at 1 am in the night.
      • Guys demand and fight for higher performance ratings and promotions like a pack of hyenas over a deer carcass. You generally do not. Therefore it saves me half the trouble. I take most of your promotions and hand them out to guys who couldn’t print “hello world” even with pencil and paper. I thank you for helping me meet my performance curve targets by allowing me to ignore most of you.
      • It is sooo easy to do performance appraisals for you girls ya. All I need to do is whip out my standard “You need to involve yourself in more value-adding activities outside of your project work” and give you a lesser rating than I would give the trained male chimps who code in my project. When I was young, I used to get psyched by all your crying and stuff. But with experience I have now learned that crying at performance review meetings is, in fact, a sign that you have accepted what has been conferred. So I thank for you for the clear and precise signal. Men are so tricky, you know. At performance review meetings, it’s hard for me to make out if they are planning to kill puppies post-meeting or strangle my neck, or both.
      • Your chances of becoming a project leader entirely hinge on how the men in your group will receive your promotion. If there are male peers in your group, you stand no chance, unless there are an equal number of opportunities. Promoting a girl when an (albeit less qualified) male peer is available could cause the guy to threaten to resign and therefore why risk that, eh? It keeps my HR manager happy when the men in my team are happy with their performance ratings and promotions. I thank you for letting me consider your promotion only when the men in your group are substantially younger to you.

      Well. In short, I thank you for enabling the subtlety of this whole thing. Those of you who do grow in your careers, don’t think this is a problem, and the vast majority of you who don’t grow, also don’t have a problem, because you take the whole marriage-first-career-later thing in your stride. Good for you. And for me. He he. So in short, nobody will actually admit that there is a problem. It’s a perfect wedding between the established social system of male-centricity and professional project/career planning convenience, something that is likely to keep a lot of you out of Vice-president posts for years to come.

      I am so lucky that none of you come and ask me why I make the resourcing and planning decisions I make. Because, you know, you can put me in a spot. You can refuse dead-end positions if you wish to. IT today has a serious manpower supply problem, and yet, you make it so easy by being, what Maami brilliantly categorizes as an ACPP (Ae Chi Paavam Pa). Every IT manager dreams about team members who are complete push overs. And most of you IT girls are ACPPs. You can’t get fired for being troublesome. Hell, you just can’t get fired nowadays. Companies are fighting hard to retain staff, and yet, you girls silently accept what you are given. Such a comfort for me ya.

      The top companies in India have unholy profit margins. And you ACPPs help in a big way. I can get away with taking most of your promotions and appraisal ratings and passing a part of them to the men. So the balance? That’s the grin you see on every shareholder’s face.

      Thank you.

      ps: Thank you very much

      pps: Thank you so very much.