As many of you know, the WIT Session at RMOUG and subsequent planning for a WIT program has been very successful. I just received my evaluations, as this was offered just like any technical session. There was a wonderfully, honest comment that I hope the author will not mind me sharing anonymously and I hope my response will help her in return.
“to be honest, if I could [do] it all over again, I wouldn’t be a DBA. I have a degree in CIS, computers were the in thing when I was in college. I chose CIS for the money to support myself & my child. It was something new & exciting. Now it is stressful and being on call isn’t fun. If I could do it over again I would have done something in the medical field like my sister who is a doctor. A lot of my colleagues say the same thing about not doing IT field as well if they had to do it again. Honestly, I believe that is why you aren’t seeing young girls & boys getting into the field because they see what their parents do and how stressed they are, etc. in the IT world.”
I found this comment both sad, honest and interesting. Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, who just wrote a fantastic book, “Lean In” discusses women in the workforce, not just IT and one of the things she says is crucial is a solid support system for any woman, especially if she has a family. This includes her family, her company and her manager.
I also have a couple friends in different areas of the medical field, I find that their schedules can be as stressful as the worst IT one, especially nursing. I wondered if her sibling’s job choice in companies vs. the attendees was more the reason behind satisfaction than the career. In my experience and from what I’ve seen, a good company is worth twice the actual career choice.
I admit that I entered the DBA field because of the flexibility it offered me. I first became a DBA when my middle of three children was just an infant. The kid’s father was raised in a household with a stay at home Mom. I think its challenging for a father that lived with a Mom who’s job was to take care of the family, to then have a wife with split responsibilities and higher demands than what he may have experienced his father having. Some men acclimate to the change fine, others do not and my ex-husband did have difficulty with this. With a career in IT, I could take time off from the office and take the kids to doctor appointments or go to parent/teacher conferences. I could work from home if one of the kids were sick that day. The good pay and ability to telecommute for after-hours tasks worked well with my lifestyle and my children were comfortable with Mom being present, with a laptop as her constant companion.
As I mentioned that the kid’s father is my ex-husband, yes, I was a single parent for many of those years. I have a good parenting relationship with my ex, so no doubt that really does help, but he has to admit that I’m the one that goes and gets them from school, the one that stays home when they are sick and the one that addresses all work hour requirements. I would have found it difficult to locate another career such as database administration that offered me this type of flexible schedule, as well as the ability to telecommute full time, which I’ve now done for two of my positions.
In the last year, I’ve begun to travel to present at conferences, where before 2012, I only presented locally. I now am presenting at about 4-6 remote conferences which requires me to travel and my ex-husband and his new wife care for the kids during that time. The kids are now 12, 15 and 18 yrs old, so the care is minimal and they don’t complain too much about having their schedules interrupted for a couple days. Outside of the few days I travel once every two months, I work from home. I’m here every day when my kids get home and I’m able to pick them up from school or take them to appointments. Pretty much whatever they need me for, I’m here. I have two office areas in the home and even if I’m not home, I’m incredibly accessible via cell, email and chat.
Although I understand where the attendee to the session is coming from, I’m going to focus on where I think the real problem lies- I’ve seen IT environments where they work people 12 hrs a day and require them onsite, refuse to comp time, etc. This is a work culture issue and not a database administration career issue. We see it in not just IT jobs, but in so many others as well. IT often derives from poor management and poor work culture.
I would say to this wonderful woman, “Please, do not give up on this career! Search out companies that support their staff’s lives, realizing the difference running a company hard and running a company smart!”
I’ve worked in these environments. Interviewed where it sounded very wonderful and no hint of what was in store, but once you are in the doors, you are thinking, “My God, what have I gotten myself into?” You are torn as your family has demands of your time and you have a boss that doesn’t understand why the family can’t come second, third or “can’t your Mother-n-law just take care of it?” Sigh….
I made a pact with myself a while back.
- Only work for good bosses and for good companies.
- Work for companies that support you in your own goals and family life, not just for their priorities. It’s should be a win-win with small compromises that pay forward.
- Companies that support their employees have more loyal employees and are more likely to succeed. The employees work for the company because they want to, not because they have to.
- Realize your worth and work hard for what you want.
- Don’t listen to those that tell you that you can’t accomplish something or that something will never happen.
- Surround yourself with positive people and find mentors
- Yes, there is often oncall/after-hours work with a DBA career. This is why I recommend any DBA’s first goal is to silence the pager and remove all “white noise”.
- Any manager/department that is a proponent of ridiculous tasks allocated to after hours work, extended hours where a resource is exhausted and not able to function well and/or “white noise” paging- START LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB.
I don’t know if this will reach the woman from my WIT session, but for any woman in the industry that feels this way, I hope it helps them find their way to succeed. I love my job, my company and my career. I wouldn’t change my path and yes, I’ve experienced many bumps in the road, but to have the persistence to continue on the path that is right for me is the only way to success.
There’s an old Hebrew proverb- “Fall down seven times, get up eight”
The eighth time rocks.