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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: 1, Interesting) by typhoon on Wednesday August 20 2014, @03:39AM

    by typhoon (1283) on Wednesday August 20 2014, @03:39AM (#83363)

    The bulk of the software engineers I work with have little respect for the business context of their tasks, poor communication skills, terrible presentation, and no respect for being asked to explain something. There are rare gems and they are treated well.

    As I'm one of the MBA types I'm almost surprised by how full of biased rhetoric the comments are. I did my time as a network and systems engineer, then learned the management speak, and now speak "tech" and "manager" speak.

    You want my attention and to be taken seriously? Then step up to the challenge too. It is not that hard. Yes, I don't respect engineers that produce defective code, deliver late, with little care to quality, and need to be micro-managed to be effective. Step up and you'll be respected and paid. Keep doing what most "engineers" do and you'll be bottom of the heap forever.

    The tech industry isn't any different from any other; and if you are a self absorbed or an entitled cretin then I'd prefer that you leave, and I can get some talent into my team. I welcome talented devs and engineers, I just don't meet them often enough.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20 2014, @06:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20 2014, @06:29PM (#83639)

    > I'm almost surprised by how full of biased rhetoric the comments are.

    Denigrating what you don't understand is typical tribal behavior. Tribalism has its uses, it helps people build complex social organizations. But the inherent "us versus them" mentality creates plenty of problems too.