At Women Who Test in Orlando on 3 May 2019, a couple of participants referred to themselves as “just a manual tester.” Dot Graham wisely intervened to suggest that we don’t say “just a manual tester.”

First — we do not need to self-deprecate: none of us are “just a …” anything. In our busy lives, we perform a number of roles, we are children to our parents, colleagues to our work-mates, friends to our friends. Additionally, we may hold many other roles – in our families, in our social lives, at work and at play. Almost all of us will be “as well as …”

Second – to say “just a manual tester” dismisses the importance of our roles. Testing is important, hard to do, taxing… and we should acknowledge that.

Third, and leading on from those points – it occurred to me that we used to call ourselves Test Analysts and Test Designers (TAD). Working alongside the Business Analyst/Designers and the Systems Analyst/Designers, we’d work from early on in projects, testing requirements and designs, thinking up ways that the resulting software could be tested, asking questions, challenging preconceptions, and bringing the testing mindset into play as soon as we could, thus preventing defects entering products.

The Test Automation teams were there to serve the TAD’s by automating the tests they had designed. And they are not “just test automators”…

I think we could describe ourselves as Test Design Engineers or Test Analyst Designers and work in equal partnership with Test Automation Engineers. Neither role need be “just a …” in anyone’s eyes, and in the multiple roles we take, we could be one, or the other, or both.