James O'Neill's Blog

April 19, 2006

The Women of Microsoft

Filed under: General musings,Webcasts — jamesone111 @ 10:44 am

I found out that that my boss did a video for Channel 9 when she was last in Redmond. It’s quite unusual for them to do interviews with people from outside the US so it’s a bit of a coup for them to want to interview her.

Eileen’s video is in the “Women in Technology” section… I’ve got mixed feelings about this: I’ve had Male and Female bosses and there are traits which you tend to find in one group or the other. I’ve also had Good and Bad bosses, and I’ve found no correlation between gender or gender specific traits and being good or bad. I don’t like dividing people up into arbitrary groups, whether that’s based on gender, race, age, education or anything else. I’ve thought for while that a “melting pot” with diverse people bringing different talents and experience strengthens a company, and striving for that Strength does a lot more to equalize opportunities, than “Equal opportunities” policies found where managers hire people just like themselves [Think about it, companies don’t consider ethnicity when hiring but some only hire people with university degrees – do equal proportions of all ethnic groups get degrees ? Might someone have something different to add to a company because they didn’t go to university ?]. BUT on the other hand if there are people out there who think your education or career have to match a particular template, or that only men in their twenties thrive at Microsoft, then lets do what ever is needed to overturn that – including doing stuff about some of those arbitrary groups. It’s good to challenge those assumptions.

Talking of assumptions, when someone’s job is “head of HR for Microsoft” it’s easy enough to jump to conclusions. Lisa Brummel has that job and has an interview on the same Women in Technology page as Eileen: the Channel 9 folks say “Don’t dismiss her when you hear she’s in charge of HR; instead listen to this bright, passionate, interesting woman ….”. Lisa will be over to meet people from the UK soon and it looks like she will be more interesting than I first thought. Like I said it’s good to challenge those assumptions.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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