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posted by n1 on Tuesday August 19 2014, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the put-your-business-head-on dept.

Jon Evans writes at TechCrunch that some extremely successful companies, notably Facebook and Google, are famously engineer-centric, and many, many engineers go on to become successful CEOs. But at many companies engineers are treated as less-than-equal because they are often viewed as idiot savants. "We may speak the magic language of machines, the thinking goes, but we aren’t business people, so we aren’t qualified to make the most important decisions. That’s for the analysts, the product people, the MBAs. They might throw money our way, but they don’t take our opinions seriously, at least not the ones they understand."

Michael O. Church, describes the different experiences of the same candidate applying for a position of “Senior Software Engineer” vs. “VP of Data Science,” a managerial position. "As an engineering candidate, he faced five gruelling technical interviews and was arbitrarily vetoed by the last interviewer. As a managerial candidate, he essentially chatted his way through behavioral questions–and was offered a lucrative position with a generous relocation package. Church argues that this difference is because engineers have low social status, whereas even managerial candidates, one they’ve proven they can talk the talk, are viewed as equals."

Evans says it’s an inevitable side effect of companies who boast completely non-technical managers. "People who have never written code or soldered diodes, who don’t really understand what and how engineers do what we do, have no alternative but to have blind faith in us. Which, paradoxically, leads to less respect, because it’s the root cause of idiot-savant syndrome," writes Evans. "f you’re an engineer who’s treated as automatically lesser than an business graduate or MBA, or worst of all, treated as a cloistered savant, that’s a warning sign. Consider your future carefully if so."

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:51PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:51PM (#83218)

    Well, duh. Your doctor isn't a business expert, either. Your lawyer isn't a business expert. Software developers are specialists in the most extremely difficult thing human beings have ever tried to do, write software for general-purpose computers. This specialty takes an intense amount of time and effort to do, especially to keep up with changes. You don't have time to specialize in anything else. Even pure math isn't as hard, because it doesn't change as fast. Innovations in math take decades or a century. "New" stuff like category theory has been around for almost a century now. Software changes as much in a year as mathematics does in a century.

    If I could do anything else for a living, believe me, I'd be doing it. I just happen to be good at software development and not good at anything else. It's a difficult, thankless job with no future. Look, folks, after almost 20 years with a company, I got fired, and that's about all you have to look forward to, some manager firing you to give himself a bigger bonus.

    The problem right now is that all the software anyone needs has been written. That's one reason developers are seen as disposable resources to use up and fire. Most domains now have vertical market packages that need small teams of experts to maintain. We just don't need many programmers any longer.

    Sure, there's a "shortage" of people who will move to high-population, high cost-of-living areas and work for low pay. There's a shortage of people who have unusual combinations of niche skills. But there's no shortage of regular, everyday software developers. When there's more supply than demand, and I think there is now, people treat you like garbage. Ask any fiction writer about earning less than $500/year on their e-books.

    Hey, we can all write apps! I've seen a parade of articles recently about the app economy tanking and app shops closing up.

    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by zosden on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:10PM

    by zosden (3067) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:10PM (#83227)

    Uh... What?

    Software development isn't any harder nor easier then math, they aren't comparable.

    Software development is a team effort. Long gone are the days of a solo dev creating the next crazy innovation. This is true for most fields.

    You would be surprised in the quality of the average dev. Those that can work well with others and deal with complex design issues are few and far between.

    Even code monkeys have a place. They can create websites for mom and pop shops to help them get their product out there just as an example.

    When I'm walking I worry a lot about the efficiency of my path ~ Randall
  • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:56PM

    by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:56PM (#83242)

    "all the software anyone needs has been written."

    As a CADCAM jockey all I can say to that is "Hah!"