|The recent comments by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on women’s ‘superpowers’ remind me of being taken on for my last engineering role. With great expectations of managing my own team and making the important decisions, I got put on a dead-end project, with incredibly unchallenging work, no respect or status, and no prospects for progression or promotion. I was put on this team to do a job that I was over-qualified for, that allowed me no management capability, and was extremely menial.
I had been placed in a junior role, despite having graduated 15 years previously. I was being spoon-fed and micromanaged, when I was working autonomously and managing projects in the not-so-distant past.
So I did the right thing, and spoke to my boss about my concerns. Their response? “Just keep doing your work, and it will be recognised”. Recognised for what? For being the go-to-girl for everyone’s donkey work? For being the engineer that no-one takes seriously? To be the person of whom others wonder why they even work there?
It was pretty obvious that their statement was secret code for “be a good little girl and do as you’re told”. This is exactly the message that Nadella is sending to all working women. “Don’t make a fuss. Don’t try to change things. Don’t dare challenge the status quo. Us men will take care of it.” Yeah, I’m sure they will.
Did things change for me? It appeared so, at first. Assurances were made, new opportunities were spoken of. And then back to square one. I fell into the trap of being a good “producer”, and so that was where they wanted to keep me. Plus ça change. Plus ça mème change.