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Black, Female and International in The Tech Industry – My Lead Developer Made Me Feel Worthless - Fintorialz

Black, Female and International in The Tech Industry – My Lead Developer Made Me Feel Worthless

Sep 26, 2023

Last week, I worked on a dissertation paper for my client. The paper revolves around HR roles and how lack of support from supervisors in addition to other factors affects an employee’s workplace experience.

As I worked on this paper, it made me reflect on my workplace experience too. I have been working in this company for 2 years, and my very first month my lead developer told me that I wasn’t smart and didn’t know how to do things the right way. This was someone with about 8 years of experience, saying this to a new graduate who had been in the company for one month.

Things went downhill from there. He would exclude me from meetings, berate me in daily standup meetings and talk down on me. It got to a point where another co-worker and a product manager of the team were discussing about it, and the PM offered to help me navigate reporting him to HR.

I was going to have a meeting with her but was sick that day. The next day, I chickened out and didn’t reschedule, or give her a reason (this probably rubbed her off the wrong way and she began ignoring me too).

Anyway, I was an international student on OPT and needed to keep my job. I was applying to other jobs, but with the recession it was tough. I would be told my resume is great, but the company wasn’t sponsoring.

Last year, I fell into a really bad place. I don’t know if I was depressed as I didn’t go to a doctor to get diagnosed. However, I was having daily anxiety, would text my mum each morning to pray for me before I went to my standup meeting and was so scared to work even though I was WFH. I was also continuously sad and didn’t enjoy the things I used to before.

It got to a point where I was calling my mum daily just to cry. Seeing me that way shattered her. She would always tell me to be strong, but even then she kept saying that this was my first job ever where I incessantly complained. I have held about 5 jobs before this (school and internships).
And then my grandma died, and I fell into an even darker place. I stopped caring about myself, and added about 30lbs -35lbs (yes in one year).

Things still kept getting worse at work, and I felt my career was stagnant. I got a new manager, but she got all her details from the lead developer who had nothing good to say about me. So she joined the bandwagon of making me feel like crap. She also never joined our team meetings, so she never saw my updates. Her only update was from my lead dev.

February this year, I was working on a project and asked a question in the dev chat of our team. My lead developer got mad and said that anyone asking that question didn’t have enough common sense. Guess what? Before posting that question in the team chat, I had asked the other 2 developers and they didn’t know.

When my lead dev said that, I told him that all he has ever done has been to degrade me since I joined the team. I honestly thought I would be fired that day, as that was the first time I ever stood up for myself. Although I was scared, I wasn’t terrified as I had saved up enough money and had started my Canadian application to move to Canada. I was done with the shenanigans of the United States, and how international students were treated. I figured that if I was fired, I would still have about 2 months in the states to get my life together and move to Canada. Well, when that incident occurred, other developers privately messaged me and told me that my lead dev was wrong and rude.

Guess what? The next morning, my lead dev edited his message and removed the part where he said I didn’t have common sense. He didn’t know I had screenshotted the chats before and after. I was going to go to HR, but then reality struck me. I was a black girl, international with only one year of experience. He was an Indian guy with about 10 years. In addition, my manager was aware of his behavior but would chalk it up to “everyone is different”

This year, I met my husband and no longer need my company to file for my green card. Things began moving in the right direction and I’m looking forward to quitting.

In the month of August this year, my lead dev took the whole month off. That month I took over his job. It was more tasking, but I had so much fun. I and the other developers held things down. Later during our 1:1 meeting, my manager told me that she this was her first time of seeing me perform amazingly. Duh, I didn’t Satan breathing down my neck or watching my every move. The general scrum master over the overall 10 teams with 50 people told me she would like to speak to me. When we had the talk, she asked if I wanted to take over scrum work in my team (part of my lead developer’s job).
Another lead dev in a different team told me I was amazing and asked if I wanted to do more scrum work. I responded yes to all these. When my lead dev got back from vacation, he shut it all down.

Well, am I pained? Sort of. Do I feel exhausted? Yes. But one thing I’m learning is untangling my self worth from my job.
For 2 years I kept getting berated by my lead dev which affected my self estimate at work. When he was out for a month, I shone bright like a diamond. Which tells me that it’s not me, but him.

I don’t think I have a future at this company. It has made me dislike corporate America. Hubby and friends suggest I try a different company and see. I’m open to that. But for now, I am mentally exhausted and just want to talk to a therapist, lay out my frustration. Talk to a life coach and gain clarity on my path

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