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Pam Jones Case

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Case: Pamela Jones - Former Programming Manager

Pamela Jones enjoyed programming. She had taken a battery of personal aptitude and interest tests that suggested she might like and do well in either programming or math. Because the job market for mathemeticians was poor, she applied for employment with a large, prestigious IT consulting firm, and was quickly accepted.

Her early experiences in IT were almost always challenging and rewarding. She was enrolled in the consulting firm's management development program because of her education (a B.Sc. in IT and some postgraduate training in business administration), her previous job experience, and her obvious intelligence and drive.

During her first year in the training program, Pamela attended classes on consulting procedures and policies, and worked her way through a series of low-level positions in her department. She was repeatedly told by her manager, that her work was above average. Similarly, the training officer who worked out of the main office and coordinated the development of junior consultants in the program frequently told Pamela that she was "among the best three" of her cohort of 20 trainees.

Although she worked hard and frequently encountered discrimination from senior IT personnel (as well as customers) because of her sex, Pamela developed a deep-seated attachment to IT in general, and to her consulting firm and department in particular. She was proud to be a woman in IT and proud to be a member of such a prestigious organization in the IT industry.

After one year in the management development program, however, Pamela found she was not learning anything new. She was shuffled from one job to another at her own department, cycling back over many positions several times to help meet temporary problems caused by absences, overloads, and turnover. Turnover - a rampant problem with programmers - amazed Pamela. She couldn't understand, for many months, why so many people started careers in programming, only to leave after one or two years.

After her first year, the repeated promises of moving into her own position at another department started to sound hollow to Pamela. The training officer claimed that there were no openings suitable for her in other areas. On two occasions when openings did occur, the manager of each of the departments in question rejected Pamela, sight unseen, presumably because she hadn't been in the IT profession long enough.

Pamela was not the only unhappy person in her department. Her immediate supervisor, George Burns, complained that, because of the organization's economy drive, vacated customer support positions were left unfilled. As the department controller, Burns was responsible for day-to-day support service. As a result, he was unable to perform the duties of his own job. The manager told Burns several times that support service was critical, but Burns would have to improve his performance on his own job. Eventually, George Burns left the bank to work for a trust company, earning $200 a week more doing work similar to the work he had been performing at the consulting firm. This left Pamela in the position of having to supervise the same programmers who had trained her only a few months earlier. Pamela was amazed at all the mistakes the programmers made, but found it difficult to do much to correct their poor work habits. All disciplinary procedures had to be administered with the approval of head office.

After several calls to her training officer, Pamela was finally transferred to her first "real" position. Still keen and dedicated, Pamela would soon lose her enthusiasm.

In her new department, Pamela was made "assistant programming manager". Her duties included the supervision of the seven programmers, some support service, and a great deal of project documentation. The same economy drive that she had witnessed at her training department resulted in the failure to replace support service personnel. Pamela was expected to pick up the slack at the help desk, neglecting her own work. Her programmers seldom completed debugging their code, so Pamela stayed late almost every night to find their errors. To save on overtime, the manager sent the programmers home while Pamela stayed late, first to correct the bugs in the code, then to finish her own paperwork. He told Pamela that as a junior consultant, she was expected to stay until the work of her subordinates, and her own work, was satisfactorily completed. Pamela realized that most of her counterparts in other departments were willing to give this sort of dedication; therefore, she rationalized, so should she. This situation lasted six months with little sign of change in sight.

One day, Pamela learned from a phone conversation with a friend at another branch that she would be transferred to Calgary, to fill an opening that had arisen. Pamela's husband was a professional, employed by a large corporation in Vancouver. His company did not have an office in Calgary; moreover, his training in Port

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