Look, working crazy hours is absolutely, positively NOT in any way a requirement for success in the tech industry. It's not even a very good way to get work done. But it is commonplace. And it is taken as a shibboleth within this industry. And it does exclude people, especially women but others as well.
What do you tell a talented 28 year old woman who is thinking about starting a family? What do you tell a 28 year old man who is thinking about starting a family? I'd say that if you do your homework, concentrate on learning, and work in a smart way then you can manage to make an excellent living working from home, which is fantastic for supporting a family, whether you're a guy or a gal.
It's a requirement for an engineering position in a technology start-up, which is a prerequisite for the top-tier success.
As for what to tell a 28 year old man. Most of them recognize that they may have to take their paternity leave late, or only take the minimum. But the fact that this is an option places the 28 year old man in a very different position than the 28 year old woman.
As for the crazy hours deal, I can't imagine many women taking that deal. I can imagine many women pressuring their husbands to take that deal though.
I'm 29, father of a 2.5 months boy. I work at a start up that is doing quite ok.
I took 20 days paternity leave when my kid was born plus a week paid vacation. I'm taking an extra month paternity leave as well in a month. Another colleague (male) is having a baby on the 27th this month, he'll do exactly the same.
I hardly work more than 40 hours a week (sometimes I get a call on Sunday to fix an important issue or something, but not regularly). I don't trade work hours (even if it includes pay) for time spent with my kid. I just don't. And you know what? I'm not shunned for it by my boss. Hell, during my wife's pregnancy, I had to take a lot of time off and work a part of it from home and he was actually proud I was putting my family first.
If your son had been born during a death march would you have considered trying to push the leave around a bit so as not to further burden your colleagues?
I have known men at financial services firms for example, who came in for a week during paternity leave to help out with a PCI audit, or took leave a week late because they were not replaceable quickly for an on-site visit with a consultant.
My version of that was taking an afternoon to edit the wiki from home one day when my first daughter was born. (I took a few weeks off, then worked from home for a few more weeks).
And I'm a co-founder. People really do overwork themselves (myself included). The most important thing is to make sure you spend your time well. If that means sitting around for a week doing as little as possible, in between busting ass on the important stuff when it comes along, by all means it's more productive to chill out for a bit.
Part of the reason I took so long away when my daughter was born, was to set an example in the company that we can be more productive if we treat ourselves well.
No I wouldn't. I took all the time the law allowed me, and if I could have taken more, I would.
During paternity leave I only 'worked' one and a half day. And it was a special case that had nothing to do with work per se. I was invited to be a guest lecturer at a prestigious university here so I talked with my wife and she spent the day with my kid for me to prepare for it and then half day while I did it.
Only reason I did it was because I had already agreed to before hand (kid was born 2 weeks before expected) and it was a great opportunity for me. But if it was a week long affair, I would have cancelled it on the spot. I just don't care about money/career enough to miss important time with my son or help my wife out.
I would tell her to F- off if it was in my legal right to take the time off.
I know my wife would do the same.
I still don't understand how people still think 130 hour week, or working through paternity/vacation time is acceptable. I could understand if it was their own company, but for someone else? Really? Do you care so much about money/work status/climbing up the work ladder that you would put your own personal life on hold?
ps: maybe I'm a bit off the tech name world, but if it wasn't for HN I would have no idea who Marissa Mayer was, and to be honest, I'm sure in 5 days when it leaves HN I won't remember her name.
Why is it so hard for you to accept that many men simply don't find that acceptable?
I've left work in the middle of the day because my wife was hurt, or not feeling well. I've taken off time simply to take her to the doctor for "moral support" even though she was quite capable of going by herself. Either of us will take a kid to the doctor depending on who it's most convenient for.
It's not the 50's anymore. Most people with good relationships want to spend time together. I don't give a rat's ass if I get 30,50,100 million in 20 years for working ridiculous hours now. I could be dead by then. Right now I want to spend time with my family and that's worth giving up a lot of money for.
At the risk of repeating my self, the F- Off would still stand.
It is illegal to 'threaten' someone like that here. Sure, many people would cave and do it and that's why many employers still have this stupid mentality, but taking in account the law is on my side, I would repeat the F- Off, and if fired, I would sue until I would get my job back and some nice pocket money to go on holiday with my family :)
Look, if you have a job that forces you to work 80 hours a week or 130 hours a week and it's not your choice, you have a shitty job. Period. Go find another one. The only time I've ever had to work even close to that much was when I was doing data entry at piece work rates and even then it was not that much.
If you are working at a company where death marches are the normal development process you've got a lot bigger problems than being able to find the time for paternity leave. Run, run away from that job as fast as you can. There are tons of companies out there, even startups, hiring devs who won't work them to death.
I'm a bit disappointed that the state of this industry is still so immature. We've had all of these studies and all of this wisdom from experienced high-caliber devs on the best ways to go about developing software (and none of them include death marches) and yet here we are still bumbling around and fucking it up and folks like you have the audacity to call it not only normal but proper and expected.
I think there is a major reason why there are death marches.
You promise stakeholders and customers that a product will be ready to ship by a certain date. These things are very easy to underestimate. So in the end you have lots of extra bugs to fix, and you have a huge amount of tension between releasing the (buggy) software on time, letting the delivery date slip, and putting in whatever it takes to release something of acceptable quality on time.
Moreover pre-hyping releases is an incredibly easy way to get a lot of publicity for your product, so it is very common.
So the fundamental issue is marketing, and everything cascades from there. But even if it isn't a normal part of development at your firm, if it happened because something major was discovered last minute and required a lot of work, would you have considered postponing your paternity leave?
Compare this to biotech. Here you have elaborate licensing and safety studies (of dubious effectiveness these days) which occur between the initial product development and its release to market. If Novo Nordisk comes up with a new drug tomorrow, they can't even estimate a release date because of all the regulatory stuff that comes with it. So this slows the march to production down and prevents death marches.
So I think the issue with death marches is that they happen, not as a function of or product development, but as a function of PR and marketing, which leads to pre-hyping a specified day of release, and if you let it slip too much, you lose out on all that built-up hype.
So I am not saying they should be normal. I am saying they are systemic, and expected particularly in a start-up phase of a business.