Patience, Resourcefulness, Listening, Questioning, Love of communication, Empathy, Engaging, Building Rapport and Nurturing. Women often have a strong tendency to possess traits, skills and experiences that lend themselves to critical and sometimes overlooked aspects to being a great tester. This article will serve to explore why and how these predispositions are necessary attributes to excelling in the field of testing. Whilst discussing these attributes we should acknowledge the benefits brought by having mixed teams as both genders tend to bring different but complementary characteristics that would be the basis of a highly effective team.
Patience is a Virtue
Patience is often required when being a tester for various reasons. Such as when we discover things and may need to wait for fixes. At times we need to overcome blockers or provide solutions to complex issues. Patience is required in the problem solving it takes to reach those solutions. Many projects involve very complex systems that take time to understand and learn or even just the patience to work with complex people or complex processes. In all these events, patience aids in us taking the time to overcome things and achieve successful delivery.
We know women can be patient from seeing women all around us handle the testing situations they do in day to day life. In a study that was undertaken by myHermes, 3,000 people both male and female were asked to determine their patience. The questions included how long they would wait in certain situations before leaving, how long they would wait in a queue, how long they would wait for late friends, deliveries and traffic jams and many more. In some of the scenarios given to them, it meant losing out on money as a consequence of not being patient. The study showed that when answered directly, men considered themselves to be more patient, however based upon their actual answers women in the study were in fact found to be more patient than men in the study.
Productive As Oppose To Busy
Women are used to being resourceful. They are resourceful in their personal and home lives, probably sometimes without even realising it. This skill is transferable to testing and extremely useful. To be tool agnostic, it means you need to have the resourcefulness to research or gain the knowledge to be able to choose and advise the most suitable tools for whatever it is that needs testing. This can vary so much from project to project, as every project is individual. If women do not have what they need to get whatever it is they are trying to achieve done, they will source it. When doing so they tend to shop around and find the best tool for the job.
Tools and the way you go about approaching things can distinguish an average tester from a great one. When testing something you may not be familiar with, or may need more knowledge on, you also need to be resourceful to fill in those knowledge gaps and learn. Either by speaking to the right people or finding a way to learn whatever it is you need to, in the most time and cost effective way.
The Difference Between Listening and Hearing
Women naturally listen to one another for endless amounts of time. This is a woman’s idea of fun. Women enjoy learning about others and finding out what they have to say. This is such a significant skill as a tester. You could miss vital information by not listening, or not even receive it in the first place, through not encouraging the conversations and wanting to hear what people have to say. The more we listen, the more information we can gather. It also contributes to building good relationships, this is easier achieved when listening. Furthermore, you can also learn from the people around you and those you are working with through simply listening and soaking up what they know. In testing there is infinite knowledge to learn, the more you do so, the better and more experienced tester you can become.
The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership
Women simply love to communicate and talk to people, as discussed above. For a tester, communication is a key skill. The conversations you have are a significant contribution to the effectiveness of your testing. The way you communicate also demonstrates a lot about you and the company you represent. Being a great communicator reflects positively in every way on both you as an individual and the company you work for. It will gain people’s respect and will benefit your testing. Again it also results in better relationships being built with your colleagues, stakeholders and other key members. If relationships are strong, then people are more willing to give their time and more collaboration will take place. Collaboration is a key ingredient for a successful delivery. Furthermore, it also means when networking at events internally and externally, women will flourish.
Women have an innate desire to question and analyse everything. In testing this can be exercised positively. A great tester has the ability to analyse and question rather than just accept the result or what’s in front of them. To problem solve effectively, you have to be able to analyse and ask the right questions. It’s what sets the great testers aside. Curiosity is crucial.
Seeing Things Through Others’ Eyes
Women are empathetic beings. This is an essential part of being a tester, being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see things from different perspectives. It also helps you understand the user and could lead to more in depth and efficient testing. Understanding human interaction is a significant strength in being a good tester. Testing is not just a robotic process, there is so much more to it and having empathy can contribute positively to your testing.
Jay Forte, the author of ‘Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition,’ stated that women ‘watch the 43 muscles in your face and see how your emotions change.’ This can have a positive effect on team dynamics as women can understand their colleagues and can pick up on how others feel. They care, which can result in a happy team, therefore a more effective team with collaboration and strong foundations.
Engage and Empower
Women are great at engaging people at many different levels. The State of the American Manager Report showed that people with female managers felt more encouraged in their development and felt they got more recognition and praise. This demonstrates women’s ability to be good leaders. Part of being a good team member is empowering others. The testers in a team are more likely to feel passionately about what they do and therefore test to a higher quality, if they feel encouraged and content at work. Jay Forte suggested that women have a way of activating passion in employees. This is great for testing and for the team culture. Engaged employees are happier and therefore more likely to perform better. They are also more likely to be able to engage and understand the client.
Building An Easy Rapport
Women naturally have the ability to small-talk which can be great for building relationships at work. They can talk about the little things, which may seem useless, but it can in fact be the opposite. People work a lot of hours in the week, the little conversations in between can be the ones that contribute to their work day being happier. It is what makes employees feel like people see them as human, that can be more important than people realise. Women can learn what people like out of work and small details about themselves which can lead to stronger relations. These are the things that help build rapport and result in healthier relationships all round. As a tester, the relationships you build with everyone around you are very important and contribute to your effectiveness.
Women are nurturers which can be excellent for building teams. They enjoy collaboration and building strong ecosystems. This can lead to strong teams and effective processes. In testing, the team and processes are the foundation. If these are strong then it allows for a better quality of testing. Women can be family-oriented and can bring this mentality to work. They can build the foundation of a team and they care about the members in it. This means they can pick up on any tensions and ensure good relationships. Women also care about other people’s opinions meaning they can consider these when making decisions or having discussions. They want everyone working in the same direction and can show the same strong leadership they potentially do at home, in their workplace. This emphasis on team mentality and a more harmonious workplace means that everyone can work together rather than against each other. They can then head towards the same goals, resulting in high quality products being delivered.
There are qualities women have that are not just what make us women, but are actually fantastic qualities to bring to work and that can make us successful in our careers. It is these qualities that can make us effective in a tester role. It seems too many women may not be aware of the opportunities that exist for them in tech or may not realise the value they can bring. If you are a woman interested in tech, then testing could be the perfect career choice for you!