I'm an immigrant Indian ethnic, Software Engineer, working in Australia. I work as developer building iOS Apps.

But my reporting manager thinks, "Indians" can't write good code. They may be good for back-office Software, but not iOS apps.

How do you handle this?

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    How did he actually communicate that? Or is it just your suspicion that he thinks that way? – aMJay Jul 18 '18 at 7:18
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    @FromPlanetBlue I understand that and agree, but I ment that it would be helpfull if you shared the behaviour of his which implies the racism – aMJay Jul 18 '18 at 7:56
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    I agree with @aMJay knowing the specific behaviour or signs that have lead you to believe that he is being racist will help the answers. For example If he is being explicitly racist rather than casual racism, the answers maybe different. – UIO Jul 18 '18 at 8:04
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    @FromPlanetBlue "it is more than just suspicion." still doesn't tell us what the hell it is. Did he actually say this? I deal with people with different coding philosophies all the time. Getting us all on the same page is like herding cats even when cultural identity isn't involved. Don't let suspected racism get in the way of getting on the same page unless you're damn sure you're facing a real problem. What did he actually do? – candied_orange Jul 18 '18 at 8:18
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    Suggestion: Rather than let this devolve into an argument over whether a series of statements/actions count as "real" racism, can you describe what you're dealing with in general? Is this an issue your manager not assigning you work, refusing to recognize your accomplishments, making racist statements, etc? – BSMP Jul 18 '18 at 20:54

my reporting manager thinks, "Indians" write can't write good code. They may be good for back-office Software, but not iOS apps.

He thinks that there is no code in back-office Software? Doesn't inspire much confidence in him.

How do you handle this?

You say " I work as developer building iOS Apps", so you handle it by doing good work and proving to him that Indians can code iOS apps.

Should I quit my job?

We can’t tell you without more information. Is he otherwise racist or insulting or difficult to work with? Do you like your job? How easy would it be to get another equivalent job?

Can you just ignore him?

In my experience (on three continents), Indians (and Australians) are no different from others. Some are good software engineers and some are bad software engineers.

If you are already doing what you want to (iOS programming), and if he hasn’t said he will move you elsewhere, and if he is otherwise not too insulting, I would be inclined to stay.

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    ... proving to him that Indians can code ... I would not lower myself to this level. Coding is an individual skill - it has nothing to do with race whatsoever. – Daniel Jul 18 '18 at 7:41
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    I can't "ignore" him. I work at a startup and he is the only technical person. As such, I can't ask for a change of project. – FromPlanetBlue Jul 18 '18 at 7:43
  • @Daniel, I wrote that in a hurry; on consideration, "prove to him that at least one Indian can develop iOs apps", and that's the only one that matters for him day to day (I upvoted you for not stooping to his level) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jul 18 '18 at 7:54
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    @FromPlanetBlue This just sounds strange; as the only techie there, he should have interviewed you. If he (albeit wrongly) doesn't think you can do the job, why did he hire you in the first place? In any case, it is now a simple trade off between how much you dislike working with him and the availability of alternative employment – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jul 18 '18 at 7:56
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    @Daniel prejudice is a thing. When you are stereotyped, you need to deal with the stereotype. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 18 '18 at 16:27

Well, your manager has a problem with stereotypes.

Any of us who are out of the mainstream or who are subject to stereotypes find ourselves in a place where the only thing we can do is defy them.

Having lived with autism and a hearing impairment my entire life, I've found that the only way to deal with this is to defy the stereotype. I've had to prove that the whole "deaf and dumb" or "shrieking autistic" stereotype is just that.

The bad news is that you need to work harder and do more just to get the same amount of respect as others get just for showing up. The good news is that you won't be perceived of as much of a threat and you can put down some deep roots before anyone notices.

The good news is that with low expectations being directed your way, it's easy to exceed them. Demonstrate that not only can you write good code, you can write excellent code.

I would avoid bringing this up with HR, as HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

Instead, bust your butt and be the best coder they have. Then they'll either respect you, or you will have huge bragging rights for your next job.

The best way to deal with bigotry is to demonstrate that it is false on it's face


What he said is definitely unprofessional, but do you have any reason to believe it's malicious? I don't think you have a case for racial discrimination if you can't actually show that you're treated unfairly due to your ethnicity.

As for what you can do about it:

1) You can ignore it. He said some stupid comment you don't like, whatever. As long as you're getting along with him (as far as you know) and he's not treating you different from the rest of his subordinates, that should be all that matters (for the moment; I'll get to that later).

2) If he continues saying these sorts of racist things, nudge him lightly that you don't appreciate it and ask him to stop. If he is a real professional, maybe he didn't understand that you took offense to his comments (he could just be really oblivious) and he'll stop.

3) If he reacts negatively to your light nudging him about his comments, then you have a real problem, because he is actually racist. At this point, you should probably find another job, and you may have a legal case for discrimination (don't know how the laws in Australia work, but you should look into it if it gets to this point). What you might be able to do in this situation, depending on how much weight you have at the company (how much of the work you contribute, etc), you may be able to put an ultimatum to his boss, like "he goes or I go", and see what happens. Before you do this, though, make sure you are prepared to actually go.

  • It's not only unprofessional, but also illegal in Australia. Unprofessional would be if someone would suggest that people wearing shorts cannot do their job properly. Suggesting that ability to do certain type of intellectual work is down to ethnicities is straight up racist, therefore illegal. – Raf M. Jul 18 '18 at 14:29
  • @RafM.I'm not sure I would go so far as to classify this situation as hate speech...I could be wrong though. – Ertai87 Jul 18 '18 at 17:13

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