Forget mentors, find a sponsor

I know this heading sounds familiar. Sylvia Ann Hewlett wrote a book with this name – Forget a Mentor, Find a sponsor. I really liked the idea and title and since I was planning to write on fast tracking our testing careers, I told myself – I could just get more efficient by re-using what’s already created to highlight my message instead of reinventing the wheel again. (That’s the easiest way to feel guilty free of choosing a catchy phrase created by other)

A widely travelled lady in my network bought this to my notice that any conference she went to, she would always see a huge line in front of men’s room but there was never a line before the women’s room. And that thought sparked me to notice a series of observations – why just attendees, there were so few women speakers. At our own work place we had so few women managers even when we had a good percentage of women in the fresher’s batch. And this is disturbing.

It’s depressing to see how steep the decline in the number of women is as we go up the ladder. Every year we see more drop outs. If we could find what all is causing women to give up on their career at any stage –we could probably work towards supporting women on these issues and trying to fix them collaboratively. Being a taboo topic, it is difficult to make women come out and talk about it. Since it is easy to think that if a woman is talking about being a woman at work – it means – they are either asking for favors or are complaining.When neither is the basic idea. The focal point is having more women at work. And not talking about it is not helping anyone. The idea is not to portray women as needing help more than men. The idea is however, to want to provide women with whatever support and safety net and encouragement they need, to face the challenges. Can we help them to learn- to stick it out when the going gets harder and not just walk away.

NOTE: We can’t mistake this phenomenon to be local and assume that it’s something to do with the Asian culture that I see so less women at work. Mind you – I work with global workforce scattered all over the globe.

On getting deeper into, I could see few glaring issues, which could be really managed well with some help. One of them was mentorship and then mentorship versus sponsorship. First challenge is to make women understand they need help and they can get it. And they deserve help. Initially, I didn’t see much happening in the area but now I see lot of collaboration from both men and women on giving and receiving ends of mentorship, as individuals and community forums too. This is a very refreshing change but it has its own limitations too.

Let me stop here for a moment. Women need mentoring mentorship does help women a lot in ways one can’t imagine – simplest one being – knowing you are a part of a community who wants to grow together and in turn just being a role model for another woman can be a very encouraging and satisfying feeling. But I notice that women seek lots of mentors but don’t focus as much on sponsors. This needs to go hand in hand. They should seek mentorship and learn from the mentors but they need to step up and look for those powerful decision makers whose support can actually get them more help and support, in order to achieve their goals. Sometimes mentoring is not enough; getting access to all the right resources in time becomes the key to success.

One needs to engage with the key people at work. Depending on the kind of sponsorship you may be looking for, these could be – People who matter in board rooms, People whose decisions are honored in the company or People who are visionary or subject matter expert or some peer working at another location. Sponsorship doesn’t mean money. It means opportunities. It could be opportunity for one to showcase their abilities.Opportunity to get that one chance that could tell the world how special you are. It could come in any form – a key assignment , a key posting, a conference, a training, a promotion, an appreciation, a public acknowledgement of abilities – could be anything including money.

And key people have so much to do all the time. One can’t expect them to be interested in your career growth exclusively at any point. Even getting noticed seems luxury sometimes. So, what can you do? Unlike, the relationship between you and your mentor – which is unidirectional take only relationship, the relationship between you and your sponsor has to be bi-directional give and take one. Find out what all really matters to the sponsor because unless it matters to her/him, it’s difficult to get their attention. Then find out where all you can help and then engage with the sponsor on those areas. You should consider to first taking the sponsor’s interest in account and that should help you win what you need.

Another aspect I noticed is women don’t invest in their skill up-gradations through trainings. My personal observation (I mean no bias or offence) for population at large is that- Men treat their career differently and with more respect. Most of the women look at their work as something they do to just earn money and are so caught up in the daily fight to manage their work and home they forget to plan for their future at work. Men are meanwhile focused on learning and eventually get ahead. No one interviews a candidate to hire them for their gender. People want talent – most of the times, it’s not a bias against women that’s stopping them from being in the board of director of organizations but a lack of talent and attitude. How many times would you hear a woman talk about becoming a CEO eventually? Or working towards a new role and going through trainings, conferences and networking sessions to learn more.

This aspect should not be taken lightly. This is one of those key areas where we could improve on our own and get prepared for a better work life. This alone can prepare women to stand up against biases. One can’t expect to get promoted to a higher position for which multiple folks are contesting – men or women unless they are the best suited in all required ways.

It is apparent that – Talent can be enhanced/improved and shined by appropriate planning.

However, there are many other such areas, which can’t be changed as quickly. Aspects which are inherited through one’s culture, aspects which could be non-progressive in nature but could give a sense of belongingness.

“Attitude” is one such area that we could do better. Different cultures teach women to behave differently, think differently. More cultures are patriarch on the planet than neutral. This gives women a feeling of being less since the very beginning and directs them to think in ways which are detrimental in the long run. Independent thinking and ability to decide for one’s own self is very important. It is important to be able to say one is proud and happy of their own achievements. One should be able to freely express themselves.

Lean In is an organization for women, that asks women – what would you do if you had nothing to fear. Various aspects of attitude need scraping to bring out your true self. Could we unapologetically accept our abilities, take compliments and be assertive in our style of working? We are trained to be self-limiting and that gets in our way to achieve more (fighting patriarch society thoughts and principles). Can we accept ourselves as we are and face the world with no guilt and feeling of being less? Enjoy with the team, be a part of the team. Learn with them. And grow with them.

There is a certain part that other men, women, families and society in general can play in supporting growth of women. Those can be listed and assisted with. We need to learn on how we can work around to get that support and how a supportive family does make an impact on one’s growth in life. A family is one’s biggest and most demanding and unreasonable client. At the same time it’s the one you thrive on for bigger successes and happiness in life. So you need them but you need them to be supportive. Learn to support each one in the family in what they are doing. Apply the science we learnt while building sponsorship for ourselves. We can win their confidence by showing our passion and abilities and sharing responsibilities too. The more we respect each other, the more we get back.

With all these taken care of we sure can see more upcoming women stars in every field. The process has begun, results can be shortly seen but scale can be improved drastically.

My message to the readers – With all this said here, at the end of the day – one will still face challenges and will have low times. Sometimes things won’t work. And won’t work out for a longer duration than one can really handle. But one needs to just hang on. Time takes care of many problems that we can’t solve. The key is to ‘KEEP HANGING IN THERE”. Look for any and all support you can get from any direction. Stop fearing. Just go out and find your solution. TAKE CHARGE – simply, because it’s YOUR problem. DO NOT GIVE UP OR GIVE IN – EVER.

If this article motivates you to invest in yourself – please attend conferences happening near you.

About the Author
Smita Mishra is the founder and chief consultant at QAzone Infosystems, which is a pure- play software testing organization. She is a first generation Entrepreneur and is a Test professional who has spent over 12 years practicing testing and leading test efforts of varying sizes, cutting across all key domains and technologies. In past, she has worked with multiple organizations, likes of – HCL Technologies Ltd, Fidelity Investments, Nucleus Software Exports Ltd, Churchill Insurance (Now RBS) and led multi-million dollars testing projects, set up and maintain test centers for her customers. In her current role, she is involved in creating test teams, managing testing for software companies, leading the overall test strategy for them. She supports her customers in identifying the risks their applications are carrying and / or passing on further to their end customers, through carefully crafted skills of software testing. She is also engaging constantly with different forums to assist growth for women in her field and otherwise too. She can be found on Twitter at @smita_qazone. She is beginning to write blogs (not always testing ones though) that can be read at Linkedin Profile :

My BBST Experience – A letter from an introvert

Dear Ellen, (fictional character who has signed up for the BBST Foundations Course)
I am writing to you in order to share my experiences with the BBST Foundations course. There are quite a few other blog posts and recent articles on this topic, but I’d like to contribute with another dimension to what has already been said.
This other dimension – or other story, you might say – is one about how this course was an immensely tough learning process for me personally. At times, I felt despair, alone and insecure. Thankfully, a small group of other testers helped me to get through, and just as they helped me, I hope this letter will help you.
The BBST Foundations is a great course. It’s a living hell as well. This dualism seems to permeate the narratives about this course; mine as well as others. I find it quite interesting that people tell me “it’s the best course I ever took” and in the same sentence “it’s four weeks in hell”. Can it be both? What is going on here?
There are several reasons why I personally found the course valuable and a real eye-opener. Firstly, it has helped me to get rid of a general test-lingo such as “I’ll test this with exploratory testing to find all bugs in the software” which I was accustomed to use. Now I am more attentive towards why “I am searching for this information so I’ll evaluate this piece of the software in this particular way”. A sharpened consciousness I might call it. Immediately after completing the course I began asking more questions: Why are we testing this? How do you want to test this? What is most important here? What information are we looking for? Time spent on this assignment has to be taken from another – which one should not be done then?
I find myself having a better focus, as well as a more critical view on how and why I test and a different way of talking about testing. Yet, in some ways the learning process has been a real tough one. I had help from people and other testers in my network and my hope is that by exposing myself a bit here and sharing my BBST course experience with you I might be able to help you get through as well.

Warnings and expectations
The course had been recommended to me by experienced and renowned testers, so prior to the course start, I had pretty high expectations. I had been warned about how tough and difficult it was too, and how people had fallen ill by taking the course! This combination of extremist information had me puzzled; how can a course that makes you ill be the best in the world? I think I had an unconscious, hidden agenda about finding out what was going on here –
this was going to be interesting for sure! It was more than interesting, and I really was taken by surprise at how the course turned out to be such a challenge for me.

Sharing everything
Maybe I’ve been living under a rock for the past 35 years but I’ve only recently discovered the archetypes introvert and extrovert. Reading about the introvert personality was a revelation to me. It was overwhelming, as I found it an almost exact description of my typical interaction with the outer world. I like to think before I speak, to build relationships one-on-one, I recharge by being alone, I do not like to take risks – and I truly prefer to complete my work before I present it to others. So you might guess – this is where the problems started for me in the BBST Course. Everything you do on the course site (Moodle) is available and “public” to all the other participants and course instructors. Everybody could read and comment on all of my work. My online status, my answers in the Exam Cram forum, my participation in the group work and comments were available to everyone. I could almost physically feel how this challenging process started with a large jerk – similar to that jolt you have as the rollercoaster in a Tivoli starts.
I knew that what I put on the course site was neither complete nor necessarily “correct”, but it was the only way to get feedback and guidance. This was the only way to find out if I was on the right track. That in itself was pretty huge for me to take in. Of course, I wasn’t always on track. Of course, I didn’t always pay attention to the call of the question. And of course, my work was criticized because of this. This was hard for me to accept especially in the first half of the course. It got better, still not entirely easy, but I had become hardier and positively tuned to receiving criticism for my work when we reached the final exam (where your work is graded by two other students and you then grade your own work).

A few notes of frustration
The course site, based on Moodle, which you have to navigate in during the entire course, is neither intuitive nor easy to gain an overview. I overlooked relevant information and almost missed an assignment. I subscribed to the email notifications for the relevant forums and threads and received 450 mails during the 4 week course. The subscription service did not always work, so I didn’t even get all the updates. Obviously, this added to existing workloads and created an element of confusion.

Could I have some more hours in my day, please?
I never had the feeling during this course that I had enough time to do a proper piece of work. The recommended hours to spend on the course are 12-14 hours a week, but I was spending 3 times as much and I felt horrible about it. I was beating myself up thinking I must be stupid or lazy, as I was spending all my time and energy on this course, but it lead me to question my abilities.
Even though I was under such pressure, I still found the course materials and subjects extremely interesting. I was also impressed by the quality, composition and variation. It might not be completely up to date, but it’s still a solid mix of individual assignments, video lectures, quizzes, required and recommended readings, group work, orientation exercises and exam questions. That packs a punch! Each had a variant which challenged me in thinking and writing on different levels and in a multitude of ways. This was great. What wasn’t so great was that I felt as though I never had enough time in general, so I ran from one task to another constantly. There were always additional tasks coming up, and I must admit I was getting more and more exhausted as the course progressed.

To navigate in predictability and chaos
But it clearly did strike the right note. From the get-go I found the curriculum and associated deadlines clearly defined. The program is well-defined and you are given adequate information regarding which groups you have been assigned to and which assignments and other challenges are coming up. To that point, it was good. Just as I was settling into the well-defined course, I fell into confusion as I tried to fathom the instructors’ feedback on our answers. It seemed to have little structure in regards to who gave feedback, which answers received feedback at all, and of which reasoning was given. Was it given to poor answers, those of high quality or the ones the instructors found interesting? I found it chaotic not knowing if any feedback would be given to my answers of the assignments, and not knowing if it had been found of acceptable quality. Was I on the right track or had I missed some important aspects? I guess I was a bit insecure about my answers, and it wasn’t until the end of the course that I could truly appreciate and value fellow students’ feedback. All students are expected to provide peer reviews of the others student’s answers, but I simply didn’t feel I knew them well enough to trust their opinions on my work. When reading other students’ answers or peer reviews, I sometimes agreed with his or her criticism of it, only to read an instructor’s comment later on stating the direct opposite.
One of the learning points for me in this process, were firstly that: yes, things are sometimes chaotic and uncertain and there is always value in feedback, because it will challenge your thinking no matter what.

Group work and road rage
A significant part of the course is group work where you depend on others to do a decent piece of work and take responsibility for meeting the deadlines. I came to think of it as similar to driving to work where I appreciate and hope the traffic conditions are good and other road users behave reasonably. It’s just not always like that, and neither was it doing group work in the BBST course.
Some people don’t conform to the rules, don’t understand or participate in the problem solving and don’t bring anything constructive to the table. Just like everyone else on the course I depended on the group work to be at least decent and that the deadlines were met.
So I was stressed out by the fact that some other participants didn’t do their part of the work and didn’t respond to questions or requests. I was uncertain of what to do here (in the traffic I might use the horn or gesticulate), was it alright to ignore them and continue solo? Or should I have written to the instructors and ask them how I should address the problem? Or even hold a plenary discussion?
One of the arguments for accepting the time pressure and the challenging group work is that “it reflects real life”. I just don’t feel that way. If people are horrible drivers – or if my colleagues don’t respond to emails, phone calls or don’t show up at work – I consider this and I will let them know how they are perceived. I prefer to conduct this face-to-face, or at least one-to-one, but I didn’t find this possible on the course. I guess that’s why I ended up accepting crappy group work.

Back to the start and all the way through
So here I guess I should address the questions as to why one should even complete this course with all this complaining and symptoms of stress. The BBST course is not “just” an online course, at least not to me. It has gradually achieved a reputation and status as a test of manhood, a possible entrance to a special club of testers and a community. I realize now that from the very beginning, and all the way through the course, I had two coping strategies. These I’d like to pass on to you.

1. Be open, honest and use your network
I was lucky to have been “warned” about the course from several renowned testers so it was relatively easy for me to reach out to them and be open about how the workload and time pressure was getting to me. And the support I received was unbelievable, I am really grateful. They themselves had been there, so they recognized and acknowledged the stress level I was at. This was both a relief and an encouragement (I was not alone!) and furthermore it led me to the second coping strategy.

2. Make fun of it all (use your sense of humor)
Humor as a coping mechanism shouldn’t be underestimated. When sharing an extreme pressure sometimes you just have to look at each other – and laugh. There have been many jokes about the damn “call of the question” and instructors have been portrayed as cartoon characters (sorry, Markus). It was a way for me to distance myself from it all, take a deep breath and go for another assignment or answer in the Exam Cram forum.

One last piece of advice
One night I could not sleep as I was worked up over an assignment. I couldn’t find peace of mind, and my only thought was that I wanted out of the course, I simply wanted to quit. Immediately. Right Now. My husband talked me into persevering, and at the same time I couldn’t come to terms with going “public” by saying that I didn’t have it in me to complete the course. So I stayed, I ‘hung in there’.
A learning point from this is that next time I will be more open about the reflections on leaving the course if the pressure becomes too much for me. Self-flagellation maybe, but I will have that chance in the Bug Advocacy Course I’ve signed up for this coming winter.
So, dear Ellen, I hope I haven’t frightened you or discouraged you in any way by telling you my story. At least I didn’t intend to. On the contrary I wanted to tell you that you will learn a great deal from taking the course and not only things related to testing. For me it was a learning experience on reaching out, being open, it was also about accepting insecurity, fear and uncertainty.
I know more now about Information Objectives and Missions, floating-point numbers and Oracles, but the learning process was tough and I don’t think I was capable of doing my best. That’s not always possible, maybe there’s not enough time to be thoughtful and creative in all instances.
But isn’t that also a valuable learning experience.
Good luck.

PS. I’m @teglbjaerg on Twitter if you need support and encouragement from a likeminded searcher.

About the Author
Bolette Stubbe Teglbjærg is a tester from Copenhagen, Denmark. Combining her passion for people and software (she did two degrees: Master in Computer Science and Master in Educational Theory), the world of Testing beckoned. Bolette has been working in software development since 2001 and testing since 2007. Having recently discovered Context-Driven Testing, Bolette is interested in promoting testing as an independent profession and discipline. She has recently signed a contract with “House of Test” and will start as a Test Consultant from September 2014. She blogs about testing (in Danish) with Carsten Feilberg at

Stepping Into Your Learning Zone

The comfort zone is a mental place, or behavioural state of safety, within which there’s little anxiety or stress. In this anxiety-free zone there are few challenges. As a result,
staying there for too long could lead to feelings of boredom and stagnation, both in one’s personal and professional lives. Stepping out of this zone provides an opportunity to learn
and experience new things.

Comfort zones come in different sizes and shapes. Some prefer stepping out a little at a time, whereas others are happy to plunge into the unknown with their eyes closed. Wherever you are on that scale; one thing is certain, sooner or later every one of us will need to step out – either by choice or otherwise. Life has a way of throwing curveballs when it’s least expected; we may be dragged out of our comfort zones kicking and screaming. Think about how many people lost their jobs during the last Global Financial Crisis and were sent flying out of their comfort zones.

In 1908 an experiment conducted with mice, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson found that stimulation up to a certain level increased performance, but any stimulation above that level causes performance to deteriorate. Based on that research the Yerkes-Dodson Law emerged. This law depicts three major states a person can be
in: disengagement, flow and frazzle. Those mental states relate directly to the comfort zone and to two additional zones situated outside it:
Comfort zone: a place, situation or mental state where one feels safe or at ease (and often
Learning (or courage) zone: area outside the comfort zone where there’s just enough stimulus and anxiety to drive productivity and flow.
Panic (or terror) zone: area furthest away from the comfort zone, after the learning zone, where there’s too much stimulus and/or anxiety. In this zone productivity tends to decline.

As Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” puts it: “If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.” So it’s important to learn and be aware of that little zone between our comfort and panic zones.

I was happy to find out that there was another zone outside of my comfort zone that wasn’t the panic zone! I used to resist getting out of my comfort zone because without
knowing how to step into the learning zone and staying there, I quickly took on too much, and ended up crossing the line to the panic zone.

The size of each person’s learning zone depends on the individual’s personality and comfort with change and the unknown. The good news is that the learning zone needs
not stay the same. It can expand the longer we stay there. With practice, it can become a sweet spot where magic happens!

For example, I remember when I first gave a lightning talk at a meetup (I am an introvert – being in the spotlight does not come naturally to me). Agreeing to do the lightning talk took
me into my learning zone, almost all the way to the edge of my panic zone. Even agreeing to do it (weeks before the event) felt uncomfortable to me. Then came time to prepare
for the presentation. Every time I thought about starting I had butterflies in my stomach. Each of those times I was stepping into my courage zone, and every time I decided to
work and hang in there a little more, I felt it became (slightly) easier. That is the great thing about staying in the learning zone: it is just uncomfortable enough to push us to a place
where we don’t want to go, but not too much that we may be overwhelmed.

Learning is at the core of a tester’s role and learning is a process that involves venturing out into the unknown, processing existing knowledge, asking (sometimes
uncomfortable) questions. Accordingly, being comfortable with stepping out of our comfort zone can prove to be a crucial skill for testers who take their career seriously.

 “In order to do your job you have to learn, learn, learn. Testing is learning. Testing is all about learning. Testing is made of learning. It’s just like being a snowman where snow is learning! That is what testing is all about. You can’t go wrong as a tester if you learn, learn, learn, learn.”

James Bach – Testing in an Agile Software Development Team 

To me, personally, this topic is current and relevant as I have had to step into my own learning zone often in the past few months. When the time came for me to present my first lightning talk, I walked right into my panic zone, mostly because I was not prepared for that step, and didn’t have any practice spending time in my learning zone. Last year I gave another lightning talk, this time at CAST 2013, which was again a panic moment. But with each one of those experiences I learned something new, and a few weeks ago I stepped out of my comfort zone once more. I gave my first full track presentation at the Let’s Test conference. The lessons I learned from previous experiences, as well as the time I spent in my learning and panic zones helped me to be better prepared this time. Here are some things I learned from these experiences that I hope can help you too, if you want to spend more time in your learning zone:

1- Identify your motivation
As Leah Stockley mentioned in her candid blog post, we are all capable of changing, even our deeper traits. All we need is the right motivation. Once you identify why you want to do something, it makes it easier to follow through, especially when you have to step out into the unknown. Channel that motivation, remember it every time you are about to cross the line into the panic zone. That should help you to stay within the bounds of the learning zone a little longer.

2- Change the way you see anxiety
It is true that you can still learn without leaving your comfort zone, but the pace is often slower. I can quickly step into the panic zone once I step out of my comfort zone, so I don’t look forward to that feeling of unease. But I have discovered that if I want to learn fast, experience new things and expand my learning zone, I shouldn’t see fear and anxiety as enemies. In some circumstances these feelings can be a sign that learning, growth and excitement is ahead, if only we learn and practice to keep it to an optimum level.

3- Become more comfortable with failure
Let’s be honest, no one wants or likes to fail, but the harsh reality is we all fail – at something, sometime. There is no point to avoid doing something based on the fear of failing. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t plan and prepare for success, but being paralyzed by the fear of failure doesn’t make sense. We can learn just as much from failure as from success – sometimes more. Sharing our failures and what we’ve learned from them, can be a powerful tool to help us overcome fear, with the added benefit that others can learn from us and not make the same mistakes.

4- Identify your learning style
It can be easier to venture out into the learning zone if you know your learning style and use that knowledge to adapt your experiences to it. There are several learning style models. Find one you most identify with and next time you step out, try to incorporate your learning style. Here are two popular learning models:
– David Kolb’s Experimental Learning theory outlines two related approaches to grasp       experience: Concrete and Abstract Experience and two approaches to transform experiences: Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation.
– Neil Flamming’s VAK Model categorizes learning styles as: visual, auditory, reading-writing and kinesthetic learners.

5- Be proactive about learning
Having to step out of your comfort zone under pressure is not an ideal situation. Take control of your learning. Pick something you have a passion for, the right motivation to do, and are just uncomfortable enough to want to do something to learn more about it.

6- Don’t do it alone                                                                                                                                                     I have a tendency to try new things on my own. It is not only safer that way, but if I fail, no one will see it or know about it. The problem is doing things solo can make it more difficult to follow through. When push comes to shove, if we don’t have anyone to be accountable to (or cheer us on), it is easier to give up. In my experience, having a coach is a great way to have someone support and guide you as you travel through unchartered waters. Coaches can give you the right combination of encouragement, challenge and accountability to help you make the best of your time in the learning zone.

Getting used to the feeling of productive discomfort is an acquired taste. It will take practice and perseverance to get there. If you want to accelerate your learning, be productive, and live outside of the coziness of your comfort zone you may need to make a conscious decision to spend more time in your learning zone. If you do so, it’s possible the next time life throws you a curveball, you may be better prepared to cope with it as your learning zone gets broader. And you may become more comfortable outside your comfort zone by spending more time in your learning zone.

About the Author
Alessandra Moreira is a student and an advocate for the context-driven(CD) school of testing. Ale started testing in 2000 in Sydney, Australia and since has worked in diverse industries and a variety of roles. Ale’s experience working as a CD tester in highly scripted environments has given her a passion to awaken the potential in testers. Ale works on projects such as Weekend Testing ANZ where, as the organizer and facilitator, she has the opportunity to help and empower other testers in their own journey. Ale currently lives and works in Miami FL, blogs at is @testchick on Twitter.

Why Testing?

When I meet testers, I often hear a specific word, “Why?” I thought that might be a great word to use in this article.

Testers often ask, “Why does this feature work that way?” Or “Is this feature supposed to work that way?” I certainly asked that question often when I was a tester. There were plenty of times when it was clear that no, the feature was not supposed to work that way. If I couldn’t log in, if the system crashed, if the hash table was corrupted, I knew the feature was broken. I didn’t have to ask.

But sometimes, I wasn’t sure if the feature was supposed to work that way, and I did ask. That’s what testers do. We ask about the system under test. We provide information about that system, sometimes from our questions, and sometimes from our data.

We are curious souls. We are critical thinkers. We have to worry—are we being too critical of the people and not of the product?
I bet all of you have a story like mine. I was testing, finding problems in a product, reporting them. The developer finally burst into my office, yelling, “If you don’t like me, just say so!”
“Dave, I like you a lot. What’s the problem?”
“You keep reporting bugs against my code! You don’t like me anymore.”
Ah, I saw the problem. “Dave, it’s not you. It’s your code.”
“Well, of course it’s me. I wrote that code.”
“Maybe you were having a bad code-day?” I paused. “You know, normally you have people review your code. I never asked. I just kept filing bug reports. Sorry. Did anyone ever review your code?”
Dave shook his head. “No. No one could make any time for me. They were all ‘too busy.’ And now you hate me.”
“Okay, hold on. I don’t hate you. Maybe instead of testing with tests, I should do a code review with you. Would that be better?”
Dave thought for a few seconds, and said, “Well, you know me. If I’ve got problems in one area, I probably have more. When I’m smart, I’m really smart. When I’m dumb, I’m a real dodo.”
“Dave, this is not about smart or dumb. This is really intricate code. I had to think really hard to write the tests. I’m not sure the tests are right.”
“No, the tests are right.” He used his Eeyore voice.
Dave and I code-reviewed his code. We found a few more problems in the code, and we found a number of places he was able to improve his code and fix some technical debt before it came back to bite him.
“Normal” testers don’t do this—or do they?

What do normal testers do?
I was a developer before I was a tester, so that colors my approach to testing. It never occurred to me to do manual testing first. I automated testing because I was a developer. Why do something manual when a machine could do it for me?
I used version control because machines did that for me.                                                                          And, yes, I used exploratory testing in an automated way— okay, a brute force, automated way—because the machines could do it faster than I could. Was that smart? Maybe, maybe not. It was a reasonable use of my limited time.

I have found that there are as many reasonable approaches to testing as there are testers.
But here’s what I don’t find reasonable:
· People who claim they have the one right way to test
· People who claim they never ask why
· People who never vary their test approach
· People who never automate their testing
· …

I could continue, but I bet you see the pattern. I don’t believe in absolutes.

What is a tester’s role?
For many years, my mission as a tester was this: Provide information about the system under test and report on it.

Anything that allowed me to do that was fine with me. That mission is broad, and allows for a wide variety of activities.

Does a developer need code review? I can do that. Do I think that’s wise on a regular basis? Maybe not. Will it move the features across the board, especially for an agile project? Yes.

During a retrospective will I suggest that maybe I am not the right person to be providing code review? Yes. Not because I become too close to the code, but because I need the time to develop tests. Do you see the difference?

Now, do you think you should provide code review? That’s a question only you can answer. If you think the answer is yes, but you don’t have the technical skills, that’s something you can fix. If you think the answer is no, why not?

Maybe you’re not interested in developing more technical skills. That’s fair. I know some terrific testers who would not be caught dead reading code.

However, I know many manual black box testers who don’t know how to read code. They don’t know any scripting languages. All they know how to do is execute test plans
someone else has written. They don’t have great critical thinking skills. They don’t vary their test approach. They don’t automate their testing.

Those people have a very limited career path. Why would they want to be testers? I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me.

Why Women?
This edition highlights the contributions of many women testers and managers. I have the honor of being one of the contributors for this edition. I just saw a statistic that says the number of female software developers is up 87% since 2001 ( to almost 20% of all US software developers. That’s a relief. Why? Because when you have diverse teams, you can create great products. Women and men, together, can create great products. Even better, when you have diverse backgrounds, both of experience and culture, you can create great teams to do wonderful things. People on teams solve problems together. We can’t only have the women on teams be the testers. You might be a different kind of a tester than I was. You might be a different kind of a manager than I was. But, I bet you are a curious, open-minded, critical thinker, who enjoys exploring the product under test in various ways.

I invite you to read the rest of this edition and consider, ponder, and explore. See what our colleagues, these wonderful women have to say. I know that I will.

About the Author
Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” provides frank advice to your tough problems. She helps organizational leaders recognize potential risks, seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna is the author of seven books and more than 300 articles. She writes two blogs on her web site,, as well as a blog on Please do read more of her writing including her newsletter there.

Women Testers – October 2014 Edition












October edition of Women Testers is brought to you by the team of Women Testers and in association with Testing Circus.

As we release the second edition, we are happy to announce that women testers e-magazine has received overwhelming response from testers around the world. We thank each of you for your willingness to volunteer and the help extended to bring this learning to a device near you.

This edition has articles from veteran testers. Read, relish and share this learning with everyone.
1) Behaviour Driven Testing – An Introduction by Divya Madaan
2) How to Keep Yourself Organized by Bernice Niel Ruhland
3) Thinking Differently while Testing by Ajitha Mannem
4) What to Learn on A New Project by Parimala Hariprasad
5) Women Participation at Let’s Test Oz 2014 by Anne-Marie Charrett
6) Problem Solving and Logical Thinking by  Mahalakshmi Devi Dhanappalan
7) Guest Post: What Testers can Learn from My Wife by Anuj Magazine

We also bring to you the winner of this quarter’s Logo Design Contest. Congratulations Maria Kedemo.

Thanks for the inspiration and patronage Testing Circus.

Download this edition and share with the learners around you.

Co-ordinator and Editor – Jyothi Rangaiah

WomenTesters – Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1) The article is published elsewhere / on my blog. Can I re-share?
A) The decision to publish such articles will dwell with the editor and the author of the article.

2) I am not a woman, can I submit an article to women testers?
A) Yes. We have a guest post section. We will publish your articles there.

3) This is a quarterly e-magazine. What if a submission to the guest post is already made, will you publish the write-up?
A) Yes. We will accomodate based on the article length, relevance and based on the status-quo.

*We have changed the format of the publication of pdf to directly publishing the articles as we request or as we receive contributions. This is no longer a quarterly edition since January 2018.

4) I am a naive software tester, can I submit an article to women testers?
A) Yes. Please ensure that the article is reviewed prior to submission.

5) I am new to software testing, can I submit my questions to women testers?
A) Yes. Do write to [email protected] We will get the mentors in the industry to answer your question.

6) Where can I find the launch edition of this e-magazine?
A) Download your free copy of the launch edition here –>

7) What are the guidelines for submitting an article to women testers?
A) Follow this link

8) I wish to volunteer for the magazine, whom do I contact?
A) Like / Follow us on twitter and on Facebook and leave a message.

9) Why women testers?
A) All questions related to this question is answered in the editorial of the launch edition. A link to the launch edition is provided as an answer to question #6.

10) I am not a woman, can I volunteer / contribute / be a part of the review panel?
A) Yes.

11) I have questions, that are not answered here, whom do I get in touch with?
A) Please write to: [email protected]

12) What is the format in which images / photos needs to be shared in?
A) jpg and png are the formats in which images used in the articles and photos can be shared in. Do provide the credits / courtesy when sharing the images used in the article.

WomenTesters – Guidelines for article submission.

Article submission guidelines:

a) There is no limit on the length of the article. The editor and the author will decide if the article needs to be published as different parts in the same / different issue of the e-magazine.
b) Choose a topic of your interest. The article should not be published elsewhere.
c) Images and graphs used needs to be embedded into the write-up.
d) Self and / or a peer review of the article is appreciated prior to the submission. If you wish for our panel to review, then please do submit the article a week before the target set.
e) Do share the author biography (not more than a 100 words) and a photograph (small, unless requested for a large dimensioned) of yours along with the article.
f) Do submit the article in word document format unless asked for other formats.

Important Note: If you are unable to write an article for us within the target date, then please help us by introducing a writer on your behalf.

If you have any questions, please write to [email protected]
Please read FAQ’s before proceeding.

Women Testers – July 2014 Edition

Women-Testers-Edition-01-July-2014Women Testers, a Quarterly E-magazine featuring articles from women in tech and guest posts from either men/women from the testing world, July 2014, its first edition is out. Download your first copy and share with the testing world.
  • Why Testing? – Johanna Rothman
  • Stepping Into Your Learning Zone  – Alessandra Moreira
  • My BBST Experience – A letter from an introvert – Bolette Stubbe Teglbjærg
  • Forget Mentors, Find a Sponsor – Smita Mishra
  • Foundations of Ticket Writing – Sara Tabor
  • 26 Ways Testers can work with UX Designers – Karen N. Johnson
  • Guest Post: The Mother of All Testers  – Mike Lyles
Women testers, currently is a small group looking for volunteers to help review articles and translate articles written in another language. Those who are willing to help, can write to  [email protected]
Our group has worked with the community of testers to bring this learning to you.
Our next edition is themed “Problem Solving” and “Cognitive Skills”.
Authors willing to write on the same theme can share your articles to us.
Coordinator and Editor – Jyothi Rangaiah
Download Here 

Hello Women Testers


Welcome to the World of Women Software Testers.

Help us to prepare a list of women testers around the World. You can nominate yourself (if you are a woman software tester) and/or someone you know.

What we need –
1. Name of the woman tester
2. Twitter link
3. Anything about her (optional)

Go ahead, nominate and let us know about her by providing the details in the comment section of this post.

Thank you in advance.