Thought leaders throughout the software community are taking over the TechWell Hub for a day to introduce themselves, answer questions, and engage in conversations.

Janna Loeffler is a QE manager for Ultimate Software and has more than 15 years of quality engineering experience.

@JannaLoeffler presided over our most recent Slack takeover to discuss all things testing, how the role of a tester is shifting, and navigating a career as a woman in tech.

Dealing with a Double Standard

“Have you found that women can sometimes be taken less seriously than men in the tech world?” —@pennytests

“Absolutely!” Loeffler responded. “I have actually run into this in a past position. However, I’ve never let it slow me down. I’ve also learned that if I’m not happy or not being taken seriously at a job, it’s probably not a good cultural fit.”

She said you have a couple of options: Find a new job or a new team, or address the situation directly, as sometimes people don’t realize their actions.

“I’ve just learned that life is too short to be miserable,” she said.

Pennytests followed up with: Have you ever ‘adjusted’ your personality/speech/etc. to attempt to help with the gap?

Loeffler responded “Im very careful with that. As humans, we need to have compassion and understanding. If there is a way you can adjust yourself in a way that is still authentic to who you are but helps bridge that gap, absolutely. That’s where soft skills come into play. However, I find that if I start to change myself in a way that is not authentic to who I am, I start to get jaded and miserable. I need to be me.”

Fair Pay

As a woman in technology, I feel like Im not going being paid enough. Is it okay for me to ask for a pay raise? Do you have any suggestions on how?

“You should most definitely ask for a pay raise.” Loeffler responded.  “However, make sure that you are being realistic. Just “feeling” like you are being paid enough is not a very strong argument. Everyone should know their worth. There are a few ways of doing this.”

She suggests the following:
-Scan the web to browse your skills, title, and location that will give you a pay range for what you should be making
-See what the market is like by applying for similar jobs and talk to recruiters about the pay range for that position
-Ask those you know, if you know hiring managers ask them what they pay for a position like yours, or if you feel comfortable asking your peers, that could be another source

Loeffler says “make sure that you are talking with your leadership about your career goals. Carve out a specific plan for them so that you are both on the same page for your career development. As you work through things and gather your data, you can then present an informed, data-driven case for your pay-raise.”

Dealing with Poor Communication

As someone coming from a less technical background trying to deal with devs who communicate poorly is super frustrating. A huge portion of my day is pushing back become there aren’t enough notes on how or what to test. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with these circumstances or these types of people that just aren’t willing to work with you? @HayleyTankersley

Loeffler suggests to “start by having a meeting to all get on the same page. Ask them what their pain points are when it comes to testing and quality. Figure out where they feel you could be of the most help to them. Explain to them where and how you are providing value to the team. Be blunt and let them know that the way things are aren’t working for you or the team, so you all need to work together to figure out the best way to produce quality software.”

Loeffler continues “Soft skills are important when it comes to testing and so is empathy. Not only empathy with your customers, but empathy with your team. I know sometimes I get caught up in “being the expert” and feeling like I know better. I get into a spiral of “things would only be better if people would just do like I suggested”. When I get like that I recognize that it’s time to take a step back and walk a mile in my team’s shoes.

I like to keep an attitude of “assume good intentions”. I know very few developers, product manager, project managers, BAs, etc. that don’t want to take pride in the product that they are working on. So, sometimes it helps just to pull everyone together and say, “As a team, what are our pain points and how can I help?“. If the team isn’t giving me the information that I need, think of ways to make it easy for the team to provide that information. Maybe that means, I need to be at another stand-up? Maybe if I find away to make a JIRA template that’s easy to fill out? Maybe it’s giving them a demo or just sitting down with them to let them know what it is that I need so we can figure out an easy way to help each other.”
Join the TechWell Hub #women_who_test channel to continue the conversation with Janna and other software professionals!

**If you are local to the South Florida area, Janna would love to see you at a Women Who Test Meetup — visit the Local Chapters link for all our local chapter info.