15

Prerequisites: Joined a month ago in the technology team (15 guys) and currently I am the only female in the team.

Instances -

  1. Ignored in a meeting when asked a question.
  2. Ignored on chat(s) except if its work-related.
  3. In daily meetings sometimes ignored while discussing the agenda as if forgotten that I exist.

How should I approach this? or just leave it?

Edit 01: Two other guys joined after me and the case with them isn't that way.

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    "Ignored on chat(s) except if its work-related." I am not sure that I follow, so when you are discussing work you are getting answers like anyone else, but when mention something personal, it gets ignored? – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 14 '20 at 14:25
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    @TymoteuszPaul Yes, it is like that. But have been ignored in meetings too. Plus this isn't the case with new guys who have joined. – Swarley Dec 14 '20 at 15:16
  • You have 2 great answers. One is more north american and another is interesting. I think you should check in what kind of company you are and if ignoring going in to work related communication – Strader Dec 16 '20 at 18:38
25

While I am not a woman, I have faced discrimination before. (I'm autistic, socially awkward, hearing impaired, and a few other strikes against me) This has been my strategy:

TLDR:

  • ACT like no discrimination exists.
  • PLAN as if it is everywhere.

That means you have to play defensively. Document everything, make sure your behavior is above board, don't take any bait.

You want to make it clear to the casual observer that something isn't right.

Gee, Swarley is so hard working, always in early, gets her projects in ahead of schedule, participates in every chat, is genial and tries to get along. Why is she being ostricised?

Remember HR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. HR will act to protect the company, not you. If it's 6 coworkers vs you, then right or wrong, HR sees YOU as the problem.

BUT....

If it gets to the point where you have to go into HR and have a mountain of evidence sufficient to make a case to an employment lawyer, then it's a different matter altogether.

The reason my approach works is because it works whether your judgment is right or wrong on this matter.

If you step up your game as I've said, and the problem stops. You win.

If you step up your game, and the problem continues, you have a solid case for an employment attorney, and therefore for HR.

If the time comes to make your move, you want to appear reasonable, and have documentation that proves that you've approached your coworkers, been above board in all your dealings, are a good worker, so there is no logical reason why you should be having any trouble.

The better you are, the more blatant any discrimination will be. That's your tactic.

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  • I agree with this. One additional observation though: can you find an ally? Is there someone on the team who you think may be more open/aware of this as an issue? Can you focus on building a relationship with them with the hope that you can draw his attention to this and hope/ask that they will sometimes call out people when this behaviour is evidennt in meeting? Harder for them to be ignored! Best if it is someone who is relatively senior but not the team leader. (I try to be that guy!) – Duke Bouvier Dec 18 '20 at 9:49
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    @DukeBouvier What you recommend is the same as what the coworkers are doing: Not treating the OP as an adult. Honestly, if someone was making fun of my hearing, or how I speak because of it, and someone else jumped in, I would be more angry with the person who assumed I couldn't defend myself. Again, having BEEN in that position, you then get to deal with the fallout. The so-called ally gets to walk away freeling good about themselves, and you get the rep of needing someone else to fight your battles. – Old_Lamplighter Dec 18 '20 at 14:21
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    Interesting observation. Thankyou. Didn't mean someone who will say "Hey now, lets not be unfair to Swarley". More someone who notices it when a contribution is being ignored and decides to say "I agree with Swarley" so encouraging it to get the attention it deserves. – Duke Bouvier Dec 18 '20 at 16:52
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All these points could be completely irrelevant to your sex. However I notice you have tagged with India so no point explaining that further.

For my country I would have said there is only 1 solution, speak up. If people ignore, then ask again. If people interrupt, call them out and tell them to wait until you've finished.

However, I don't know how that would work in an Indian tech company, and may even make things worse for you. I used to work with a guy from India, he returned to start his own tech company. We keep in touch, and from what I hear, I wouldn't be surprised if this was because you're a woman. It seems like there's a pretty big problem with sexism in India.

The one thing I did notice was, my Indian colleague made frequent sexist comments about female co-workers, but rarely about the 2 he made friends with. So maybe this will improve over time as you get to know your co-workers better.

Sorry I don't have a better answer.

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    The situation in India is tricky- in some ways, at certain software companies, HR/management go out of their way to be super-"modern", let's say, to be super-"Californian" in terms of issues like dealing with sexism, etc. Of course, nowadays India is the superpower- the best skyscrapers, the billionist billionaires, owners of Jaguar, kings of steel, etc etc. But it's not so long ago that India was the "outsourcing champ"- powering silicon valley with the actual work. For this reason, as I say, in some India locale s/w companies they go out of their way to be pro-active re: sexism, etc. – Fattie Dec 14 '20 at 15:15
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+200

If your manager is in the calls, then ask them after the call and see how they respond.

There could be an underlying reason for this, but this behaviour on the face of it does seem rude.

But yes, in the meantime just get on with the job in hand to the best of your ability. If things don't get better after a couple of weeks, consult with your manager about the situation.

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Take it from me. It happens, most of the times. For me, this strategy worked.

The more I try to make my presence felt, the more I am ignored. So, I had started to mind my own business and ignored whoever ignored me. I stick to the work that is assigned to me. Most of the times, mails or JIRA tickets are always being responded to. Chats are always unofficial.

While this is happening, remember that complaining to higher officials or the HR is not going to do any good to you. Be thankful that you have a good source of income right now. That is what matters the most.

And if you are one of those who want to indulge in chit-chat or small talk, then get used to this phase as well - sticking to only job related chats/emails/calls at this moment. You might like this.

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  • I don't think "Start your own business and do it to them" is anywhere near a good answer here. – Ben Dec 14 '20 at 22:53
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    “So, I had started to my own business and ignored whoever ignored me.” - What? Are you saying you, started to mind your own business, or you started your own business. Cause the next sentence makes no sense if you started your own business. – Donald Dec 16 '20 at 12:08
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A team of 15 is a large team to both know and work effectively within a month. Most teams I have worked in have around 5/6 members who I closely work with and others in a larger team/department doing other activities. Both groups take time to get to know and cultivate both personal and professional relationships and at difference paces.

Who do you work with closely in day to day activities? Do you get the same responses from them on 1/1 calls, chats etc. Does the context make a difference, eg smaller meetings/groups vs larger team meetings.

If this was an different team either internal or client, what techniques would you adopt to work effectively with them.

There may well be gender bias around these interactions described above, however given the numbers within the teams, I would also suggest that numbers may play a part and working closely with 2/3 and build upon those working relationships will show either way if the issue is gender-based or relate more to team dynamics

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You present no evidence that this behavior is due to you being a female. It very well may be because you're new. My advice would be to give it time for the team to get to know you and to warm up to you.

It does seem like rude behavior, but very often established groups are insular and take a while to warm up to new people.

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    Two other guys joined after me and the case with them isn't that way. – Swarley Dec 14 '20 at 13:22
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    @Swarley That is important information that should be added to your original question – Peter M Dec 14 '20 at 13:27
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    @Swarley You should have stated that in your question. There's no way we could have known that. – joeqwerty Dec 14 '20 at 13:31
-9

15 is a huge team so it must be a big company with big company resources.

Taking your post as it stands - "Ignored in a meeting when asked a question." - you should

  1. Make a written memorandum of such events when they happen

  2. Go to HR.

On the face of it, you are suffering sexist abuse.

The fact is, if you are suffering sexist abuse (or racist abuse, or similar problems) ... you go to HR.

What other possible solution is there?

Again taking your question as it stands - there's simply no room for such dinosaur idiots in today's world, they should all be sacked.

And there's no point saying "oh India is not Oregon" ... in technology/software there's nowhere in the world more internationalized than India.

Would these idiots behave like this if they were talking to a senior (female) client overseas? Your HR would ensure they do not.

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    Not the downvoter but I can see why people do - you are jumping to quite a few conclusions, and only seem to offer "go to the HR", without mentioning how this can possibly go badly for OP. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 14 '20 at 14:34
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    @TymoteuszPaul you know, a huge problem on this site is "One can only answer the question as stated." I treat them as sort of "abstract questions" you know? You just have to take it as an exercise that everything said and told, is the whole story and gives the correct spirit of the situation. "On the face of it", I do believe she should just go to HR. (I personally don't see the "things can go badly" angle; I mean yeah if you're a female in that sort of environment, things can go badly. You're sort of screwed. Go to HR.) (Of course, just my opinion having worked in India a bit.) – Fattie Dec 14 '20 at 14:42
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    It's fine with taking it at the face, but the HR going bad consequences are very common, sadly, as whether it's ruled for OP, or against OP, she is now "the one" who goes to HR over "minor problems", and in some companies (especially true for companies that you suspect may be furthering a sexist agenda) that means OP life in this company will be a hell from now on. Just enough hell that it makes you hate work, but not enough to actually have a valid HR or higher complain. Ultimately 15 people won't get fired over this. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 14 '20 at 14:46
  • the fact is .................... you could be right @TymoteuszPaul – Fattie Dec 14 '20 at 15:11
  • It is a big team but I've been on tech teams with 15 people where the total company head count was around 100. I've been on teams with 8 people where the company head counts were 1000-30k. So you can't reliably tell company size from team size. – HenryM Dec 14 '20 at 19:35

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