Women's Job Satisfaction
and equally to men
to other women
Microsoft's policies encourage equal treatment for all employees; however, the individual experience one can expect is extraordinarily dependent on one's manager. I've been a full-time employee (FTE) for over a decade, and have more than twenty years' history working for Microsoft (I worked as a contractor off and on prior to joining as an FTE). In the years during which I had managers who were capable and objective (and even in some years when I had managers who were not very capable but were at least objective), I was always a top performer in every team in which I worked. I got a new manager this year and was suddenly given a "zero rewards" [no bonus] review that was attributed not to my contributions (or lack thereof), but to my personality. Not only was there absolutely no supporting evidence given for the assertions about "how" I do my job, but it was demonstrably proven that my manager had not actually talked to anybody with whom I work before creating the review, with the exception of one colleague who has spent years denigrating me. Moreover, despite getting no bonuses from this manager, he was forced to give me a raise of >$10,000 because that's how much less I was paid than others with the same job title in my organization (and the salary was required to be normalized regardless of review). In the past six months, five of my male teammates have told me that they believe my current manager has "issues" with and is "threatened by" women, "manages by intimidation", and that I'd be treated very differently if I were male. These were unsolicited statements, each of which was made after the colleague witnessed various of my manager's actions (and in some cases, his profanity-filled screaming fits directed at me as well as other employees he dislikes). My manager's manager is widely known to be out of touch with what's going on in his organization at lower levels, and his solution to a top performer suddenly being given a poor review and a directive to "get out" was to tell me they do want to keep me in the organization (I'm fairly senior and am technical, both of which are sadly rare across the company), but he has continued to keep me reporting to the manager who has admitted that he does not like me and who has given me an extraordinarily biased review containing numerous false statements. This is despite the fact that there is a peer manager to whom I could report instead. If my manager's manager was genuinely interested in getting a well-rounded assessment of my performance, a simple way to do that would be to shift me to the other manager and see if I continued to be evaluated as a sub-par performer. I would have attributed this experience to a personality conflict between my new manager and myself were it not for a number of incidents (literally dozens in the last six months) in which my manager has, in writing, credited male colleagues for work I've done (to which they did not contribute at all); has blamed me for inadequate work done by male colleagues (which I had no involvement in); has refused to acknowledge or act on several instances in which one of my male peers has delivered abysmal work to the point that we've had to engage legal to deal with the fallout when customers complained; and has pushed the only other woman on my team into grunt work that is so below her capabilities as to be laughable were it not for the fact that it's about to drive her out of our organization. One of the very few other women in my organization (women comprise <10% of employees in my director's organization) was undergoing chemotherapy and she was actually criticized by management for poor meeting attendance during the time when she was fighting cancer. We are losing people left and right because of poor managers (my current manager is not the first bad manager that has been added to our organization by our director in the past few years), and the director usually writes these departures off as normal, even "positive" attrition [meaning- "it's a good thing s/he left, because s/he wasn't a 'good fit', anyway"] After I received my most recent review, when I shared my experiences with a few close friends, I was shocked at the number of similar stories I heard from or about both current and former Microsoft employees. I genuinely believe that Microsoft's most senior leaders want to drive an inclusive, fair culture, but there is an ingrained culture that, if an employee receives a negative review, even after years of being a top performer (whether male or female), it's treated as a problem on the employee's part, not as a potential problem with the manager who delivered the poor review. The experience one has at Microsoft is incredibly dependent on whether that person's manager is an advocate or an adversary, and the system is geared towards supporting the manager, not the employee. I've seen many stellar people driven out of Microsoft because of this, and it is not only women to whom this happens, but in the case of it happening to women, the "justification" for the negative reviews (and firings) that they got has most often been about their supposed personality issues ["aggressive"; "abrasive"; "domineering"; "it's not what you do, it's how you do it"] rather than because they didn't deliver on their commitments and assignments. Microsoft is a company that wants to treat people fairly, but it is unfortunately structured in a way that ensures that that doesn't happen. Rumor, innuendo, and "reputation" propagated by a bad manager carries more weight than praise and kudos from dozens of peers and other teams/organizations does. This isn't sour grapes on my part- I very much want to stay at Microsoft and I actually think that outside of the team I'm in, the organization of which I'm a part is somewhat better at treating women fairly, although there's definitely a "she's difficult" bias against women who are assertive, driven, and/or willing to call out problems in the organization, coupled with an incomprehensible support of male employees who underperform again and again but are vocally self-promoting. Had I been asked a year or two ago if women are treated fairly at Microsoft, I'd have said that we are, but that would have been based entirely on my own highly positive experiences up to that point. It was only when I experienced the "dark side" myself that I started to run across women who have had similar experiences, and in many cases, who also pointed me to even more women who had, as well. For women who are considering working at Microsoft, I'd say the following: 1. Your experience is heavily dependent on your manager and your manager's manager, and those can (and will) likely change a number of times over your career at Microsoft. If you interview and don't get the strong feeling that your potential manager will be your advocate and wants to hire you not just because you're a woman (there's pressure to recruit and hire women and minorities across the company), but because your skills and capabilities are desirable to the organization, run away and look for another team to join. Don't be afraid to ask if you can speak with other women in the team/organization; if there aren't any, if they're only found in "non-technical" roles such as HR, marketing, legal, finance, etc.; or if those women aren't able or willing to enthusiastically articulate how they feel about working in the team, think carefully about whether you want to join that team. And if you're somebody who wants to rise to senior levels within the company, be prepared to have to be more politically savvy and self-aggrandizing than you might normally be comfortable with. Now that I've written that, I'm reminded of a female colleague who recently joined Microsoft and who was brought in at a level far below what she should have been hired at, as well as being told by her mentor, "there's a fine line between keeping your manager informed and 'bragging'." I wish I could say that that attitude wasn't common.
Like most tech companies, most women are in marketing, HR, administrative roles rather than engineering roles. Some female managers in engineering disciplines came up from the administrative/clerical ranks and harbor biases about how women should act at work vs. how men should act. If your work style is more assertive, technically confident, and quick to speak up, and less apologetic, deferring to men and hesitant, you'll have trouble under these managers. How to identify them? Look for women without solid engineering experience who are running teams. Often seen in technical publications teams, but can exist anywhere. If you are a developer, be prepared to run into men who first assume you're product/marketing, and then program management, before finding out that you're a dev, because female devs exist in significant numbers in such a large company, but are still not common. Some of my best contacts there are people who first assumed I was just an English major helping write product marketing copy, and then found out I had architect-level skills and could offer technical feedback. Among the seriously-old-guard (the 20 years + club), it's a boys club. But most of them aren't in your daily life, so you just let the boys be boys, and get on with your job. That said, much of the company is gender-blind (or at least willing to apologize when called on unconscious bias), and if you can steer clear of the female admin type managers, your skills are likely to be recognized on their merit and you could find yourself with a great opportunity. As in any big company, it is ALL ABOUT POSITIONING. Get on the right project, and you can get attention from people at the VP level and higher, quickly. Get on an ordinary project, and you can make a good living and stay mostly invisible for years.
Like many others, I worked early on as contingent staff for a number of years before joining as an FTE. The group I finally joined was fun, innovative, took risks and had a lot of integrity. We weren't doing brain surgery but everyone worked very hard as a team. I knew at the outset being a woman was a problem as I was hired at $10K less than a male counterpart with equal experience -- actually less in the area we were hired. But I liked my boss (salary was his bosses mandate) and I decided to take the job. I never ever cried except once at work about 4 months before I resigned and it was at 10pm at night and I was alone in my office. Over the years I created a suit of armor to deal with the increasingly hostile environment. I find now after leaving that after many months I am crying all of the time. I had just turned off my emotions to deal with all of the stress, abuse and intolerance. Recently MS has laid off pretty much everyone in IT over 40 and all of the women they could possibly get rid of. They do this under the guise of RIFF which is crap. They are cleaning house to get rid of the old people. I can find many of my friends jobs now on the job boards everywhere. And the executives continue to sit in front of Congress and the Senate talking about how there aren't enough qualified people and how they need more H1Bs. Don't make me laugh. The many good years I had I remember with joy but the company now isn't a very nice place. Suffice it to say the comment Nadella made at the women's conference wasn't him misspeaking.
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Crowdsourced Employer Benefits
How do women feel about working at Microsoft? 58% think they are treated fairly and equally to men. 67% would recommend Microsoft to other women, and women have a job satisfaction rating of 3.6 out of 5. What are the benefits at Microsoft? Microsoft offers 20 weeks of paid maternity leave, 0 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, healthcare, flextime, 401-k matching. These benefits are based on tips anonymously submitted by Microsoft employees.
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