is my manager the problem … or am I?

A reader writes:

I’m in my second job after graduating college in 2020. My first job had a structural reshuffle, and so I was offered another role that I didn’t want. I turned it down and got this new job, which I have been at since November.

The new job has a title upgrade and is highly relevant to my industry, which is great. My new manager, however, is not.

Here’s where I think I’m the problem: I made some sloppy errors during my first few months, which my manager had to fix for me. She’s therefore decided to keep a closer eye on me, which I understand and appreciate. She’s said I’m potentially not a good fit (which I’m inclined to agree with) and given me timelines as to when to improve. I don’t resent her this, even though being out of work is obviously not a situation I’d like to have happen. My probation is six months, and I get the feeling I’m going to be let go before then. I’m already on the search for a new job.

But on the other hand … I’ve had a week’s training. That’s it. When I asked for more, she told me there was none available. I’m being asked to pick up new tasks/software/skills but I feel like I’m given no support. I only get negative feedback from my manager, and when I asked for some positive feedback, she said she “had none to give.” She told me I needed to be more open, and when I asked what she needed me to do to do that (talk to her about her life more? update her more regularly on what I’m doing? email her daily?) she rolled her eyes and told me to just “be more open.” She never makes polite small talk with me but is very pleasant with other colleagues.

She needs to be CC’d on every email I send. I work in software development, and she and I are the only two women. She therefore takes on the (sexist) unpaid labor of organizing social events outside work … and doesn’t invite me to them. When she asked for suggestions on how to improve XYZ process, I tried to contribute and she just spoke over me. I have to work evenings and weekends to try and keep up with her.

This is an aside, but is so insane I don’t know how to even address it: I was screen-sharing something with her the other day and she said she didn’t like me using dark mode and insisted I turn my settings back to light mode.

I’m looking for a new job already, but she makes me feel about three centimeters tall and like a failure. I don’t know how I’ve messed up so badly that I deserve this treatment. How do I even survive a manager like this for the next couple months? And how do I frame such a short stay in interviews when I inevitably get asked about it, especially with such little experience?

I can say with confidence that you haven’t messed up so badly that you deserve this treatment, because no one deserves this treatment!

She’s being horrible to you in ways that are clearly about her, not you.

It’s possible that you’re not right for this job. And for all I know, the mistakes you’ve made could be very alarming. But even so, no decent manager would operate the way she has.

Telling you that you need to improve but refusing to give you any guidance on how to do that is one of the most clear-cut signs of bad management around. If she’s already decided you’re not cut out for the job and so she doesn’t want to invest in training you, that could be a reasonable decision — but then she needs to remove you from the job, not keep you on while refusing to give you any sort of coaching or support.

The same goes for her statement that she had no positive feedback whatsoever to offer. That is just never the case with an employee who’s trying. Even if she couldn’t say anything positive about your work product, she could say that she can see that you’re trying hard or open to learning or that you’re a positive presence in the office or something. “I have no positive feedback to give” is such a crappy and discouraging thing to say that she’s either (a) utterly oblivious to how to deal with other humans or (b) trying to get you to leave by being a jerk (which is a horrible thing to do).

Telling you to be more “open” and then refusing to explain what it means and rolling her eyes when you asked — again, bad manager and bad human. That feedback is utterly opaque and thus meaningless. The problem there is her, not you. Again.

And she really is a jerk: being cold to you but pleasant to others, not inviting you to team social events, ignoring and speaking over you when you try to talk … she’s a jerk.

So if you’re taking her treatment as an indictment of you — thinking you must somehow deserve this, that her behavior indicates you’re a failure — please know this stuff is all about her, not you. No competent or reasonable manager would treat an employee this way, even if that person were an absolute disaster at their job.

If I had to guess what’s going on, she’s decided you’re not suited for the job but she has no idea how to manage effectively and so instead of dealing with that in appropriate ways (more coaching and feedback and/or letting you go if needed) she just feels hostile because you’re a problem she doesn’t have the tools to solve. Maybe she’s hoping you’ll quit. Maybe she’s just a jerk who also doesn’t know how to do her job. Regardless, none of the stuff she’s doing that’s making you feel like a failure is about you — it’s about her lack of skill at her job, and it’s also about her crappy character.

As for what to do in interviews, is there a way you can frame this job as, “I was brought on to do X but it turned out they really needed someone to do Y (or someone with Y skills)”? You mentioned you agree you’re not a good fit, so it sounds like that might be an accurate framing. Alternately, it’s an option to just leave this job off your resume entirely since it hasn’t been that long. A lot of people ended up unemployed during the pandemic and it won’t look odd to say to interviewers, “My previous job had a structural reshuffle, and I was offered another role that I didn’t think was the right fit. I’m interested in this one because ____.”

Meanwhile, though, don’t let your crappy boss get into your head. Even if you are ill-suited for this job, there’s zero chance you deserve the treatment she’s giving you. Keep reminding yourself that it’s about her, not you, while you work on getting out.

Read an update to this letter

{ 380 comments… read them below }

    1. L'étrangere*

      +1 there are a lot of awful managers out there LW, please don’t get discouraged by this one!

      1. Not a cat*

        Especially in software. They get promoted for technical skills and are never given management training. That doesn’t excuse being an asshole, though.

        1. Leela*

          having worked in tech hiring, this is as true as it is frustrating. you often have people who don’t WANT to be come managers but it’s literally the only way you’re allowed to raise their salary by company policy (like employees can’t make more than X% of what their manager is making for example, or they’re at the top of the salary band the company will allow) so they take it knowing they’ll hate it because moving someone into management is sometimes the only career progression companies will allow. Very unfortunate because tons of phenomenal programmers would love to just keep on programming but you’ll lose them because there’s no movement except for into management, or you get them in management but everyone loses because they didn’t want to be there and don’t have that skillset just by virtue of being a good programmer

          1. Angstrom*

            This is far too common across a range of technical fields — the only way up is to go into management, regardless of management skills, aptitude or desire. I’ve seen it happen to several good engineers who had no interest in managing people, and who really wanted to stay in the lab and work on bigger or more challenging projects, with a salary appropriate to their increased responsibilities. Good companies do have a technical career track as well as a management one.

            1. wittyrepartee*

              Mmm… yes, academic science comes to mind too. There’s a lot of people who would prefer to be senior scientists in a lab, and not to be PIs.

              1. JustaTech*

                Even in industry science. My boss would much rather be in the lab than in endless meetings, but he’s moved up the ranks and now the only reason he’s ever in the lab is that we are running scarily “lean” and sometimes work just needs more hands.

          2. sb51*

            Also tying technical leadership to personnel management — if you want to have any say in your area’s technical direction, you have to be the manager. Yes, there’s a lot of aspects of planning etc that are tougher if you divide those two responsibilities, but they’re two completely separate skillsets.

          3. CoveredinBees*

            My husband is in this bind. He doesn’t want to become a manager because he likes writing software and managing requires skills that aren’t his strengths. Putting him in management would benefit no one but that’s what is being encouraged as the “logical next step”.

        2. Worldwalker*

          Which turns a good programmer into a bad manager, and the company loses twice.

          Management is a specialty skill set, just like programming or engineering or anything else. There is no reason to believe that someone who is a good programmer would be a good manager any more than they would be a good football coach. In fact, it’s possible that they would be a *worse* one, since the more you specialize in one thing, the less time you have to learn other things. One of the great problems with so many businesses is that they see management as a promotion from some other role, rather than the actual role it is, with its own specialized knowledge and skills — and personality type. That’s also why we get so many incompetent, frustrated, stressed-out managers who wish they were still individual contributors, because that’s what they’re good at, but they need the money. (and why should managers automatically be paid more, anyway?)

      2. INeedANap*

        Am I wrong in thinking she may have internalized Smurfette syndrome? Like, she’s used to being the only woman there and is unnecessarily hostile because of it? Because she is certainly a special flavor of bad manager.

        1. Michigan mom*

          That was my very first thought. I am not a programmer but I am a woman who works in sheet metal. There aren’t that many women who love stamping and welding so most of my colleagues are men. When I DO have female coworkers it makes me so happy. My first engineering job (last century) i was the only woman in a group of forty people. Finally one day there was a woman returning from a plant rotation and I was so happy to see her. The first chance I had I tried to introduce myself. I stuck out my hand and said “hi! I’m Michigan mom it’s so nice to have another woman in the office!” She stared at my hand like I was offering her a sack of poop, looked me in the eye and said “I don’t like working with other women” and huffed off. Thank god she wasn’t my boss. Luckily the admins were nice.

        2. Leslie Knope*

          Wow, that describes my previous boss to a T. When I would receive “feedback,” it never included any examples or solutions to improve, or open up any discussion. It was usually things like the loudness of my voice, the way I speak, and told it wasn’t a criticism but also that we didn’t have the resources to give me any support on it. She came from a very male-dominated industry in the private sector and started running a women’s empowerment nonprofit. She expected 60+ hour weeks and 24/7 communication for a program-based organization. I ended up leaving without something else lined up because I was so burnt out I was not well.

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            There’s definitely a whiff of internalized misogyny around the letter, and it’s common – though it’s hard/impossible to diagnose the exact flavor.

            Sometimes it’s just very disappointing to see a woman being a worse boss to other women than to men, just because she hasn’t worked through misogyny issues.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I know this kind of speculation isn’t really helpful… but that was definitely my first thought, especially when it comes to planning events and then excluding OP from them.

          Doesn’t change anything in the answer of course. But I couldn’t help wondering about that.

        4. blipp*

          Female computer scientist here, and yeah, there are definitely women who like being the only woman in the room. I was like this myself until I got over it.

      1. Carole*

        Sometimes you don’t know in the moment why someone treats you the way they do. I’ve learned people with confusing behavior usually have beliefs or opinions about you that have nothing to do with you personally. Could be she wasn’t expecting to have to have you on her team. It could be she dislikes you for her own personal and biased reasons. Totally nothing to do with you personally.

  1. The Original K.*

    “I have no positive feedback to give” is up there with the boss from last week who told his employee he wasn’t important. These are things you just don’t say!

    1. supertoasty*

      “Hmm, today I will go to work and say the absolute most god-awful rude things I could to a subordinate without *technically* insulting them.” –some of these damn bosses

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        My abusive former boss actually did say, out loud, to her subordinates, that this was what she was doing. She had already been reported to HR and all she learned from that experience was exactly where the line for being disciplined was and how close she could get to it without getting in trouble.

        LW, just like my former boss, your boss is not a good manager. Her words and her behavior are a reflection of her and have no bearing on who you are or what skills you have. Keep working to get free of her, and come back to update us when you can.

      2. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        I had a boss who told me that he liked it when he put so much pressure on an employee that they ended up in tears. It made him happy. Trash person. He was finally pushed out when it was discovered that he had ordered someone to deliberately falsify regulatory documents.

        1. Carole*

          One of my first bosses in the 80s intentionally brought me to tears by simply asking me to work overtime, she knew I was backed into a corner and she knew I had no skills for dealing with her and her animosity. It was frightening and I was overwhelmed. Some people are bullies, some people are competitive and should not be supervisors they can’t be supportive

        2. Workerbee*

          Sounds like a couple of the dumpster-reject people at my last job. Tons of documentation on trash behavior, including sexual harassment, but one of them was only finally fired when he was overheard talking Sensitive Company Info with a peon.

          The other is still there with his inflated title, but is the son of the founder, so.

    2. Salymander*

      This is one of those things that mean people say, and when called out on it they follow up with, “I just believe in being honest.” In other words, people like this want to be mean without any consequences for them. It is mean, but also cowardly. A twofer.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        These are also often the people that can’t take the same behavior applied to them (or are in a position of power where you can’t respond in kind). To get a sense of how outrageous her behavior is, OP should think about what it would feel like telling her you have no positive feedback for her as a manager. Even if it’s TRUE, you wouldn’t say it, right? Because it’s outrageous (and not just because of the power differential/potential consequences).

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Yes! People who claim they have “freedom of speech” when what they mean is that they want freedom of consequences!
          “X people are bad because A, B, C.”
          That blanket statement is ridiculous. You are racist/sexist/trans/homophobic.
          “Hey, this is free country I can say what I want!”
          Yes, yes, you can. I support your right to say it. I just will not support you or your business.

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            Exactly. It boggles my mind the number of people that use the “freedom of speech” argument in places it makes absolutely no sense… the first 5 words of that amendment are “Congress shall make no law” so if you’re not talking about Congress, but instead are talking about social or financial repercussions of not acting polite in polite society… well, them’s the breaks.

          2. Salymander*

            Right. If you have the right to say terrible things, then I have the right to not watch your tv show, listen to your podcast, attend your concert, vote for you or buy your merchandise. And when you go out of business or lose your public platform because you were a horrible bigot and people don’t want to spend their money or time on you, that is the natural consequence of your crap behavior. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

            And yet folks like this tend to complain that their free speech is being curtailed because people don’t want to throw money at them just for being a jackass.

        2. Salymander*

          Absolutely. If you apply the same brand of brutal honesty to these so called honest people, they tend to get really angry and whiny. Even regular old non-brutal honesty tends to piss them off. They like to say cruel things in the guise of offering guidance or constructive criticism. If you call them out they pretend to be shocked that you misunderstood, or they claim to be trying to help, and if you are offended then that is evidence of your weakness or lack of quality. If you criticize them or push back, you are attacking them and being mean. It is a perfect combination of meanness, cowardice, and lack of responsibility. Not a twofer. A trifecta. This manager has hit the Jerk Trifecta. Maybe we should have a trophy made for them, eh?

      2. NeutralJanet*

        Something that I always bring up is that if you were really, truly honest all the time, and said whatever you thought, without any filter, sometimes you would say nice things as well! If you don’t ever say anything nice (that is maybe a weird or embarrassing thing to say), then either you do have a filter and you’re lying or you never think anything nice, which is really sad.

        1. Stinky Socks*

          Ooooh. That’s true! I’ve never heard it put that way before, but it makes total sense!

    3. Merrie*

      My (thankfully now ex) boss said he thought he gave me a mix of positive and negative feedback, when I had tried to discuss how I felt I was sorely lacking positive collegiality because I didn’t get on well with my counterpart and I felt like I didn’t get much positive feedback from him. I gave up after that and started looking for a new job. But he ended up leaving before me and I don’t miss him. He would also tell me I needed to praise my staff more and I’d be like… Can you do that too ever?

  2. Lilac*

    LW, it’s not you! I had a boss just like this who destroyed my confidence. We had meetings every Monday where she would tell me everything I’d done wrong in the past week. I cried every night, and I eventually quit with two days’ notice.

    You’re right to look for another job, absolutely. Salvage your self esteem and know that making mistakes is human, but what she’s doing to you is just the worst.

    1. supertoasty*

      If OP quits, I really, REALLY want them to throw the “I have no positive feedback to give” back to the manager during an exit interview. Would it be rude? Highly. Would it be unprofessional? Debatable. Would it be staisfying? GODS yes.

      1. supertoasty*

        *satisfying. Wow me, really flexing that English major/writing tutor muscle there.

        1. Beth*

          For even more fun, use rhe line to introduce some form of useless, irrelevant, but positive feedback. Example: “Well, Crappyboss told me she had no positive feedback to give, so I know how horrible that feels. Therefore, I would like to let you know that the restrooms have always been clean.”

    2. Angie*

      I had a post-project meeting with my manager that I knew ahead of time was just going to be a beatdown. It hadn’t gone as well as last year, so I came in with what I thought were thoughtful suggestions about how to improve the process going forward.

      He had no suggestions, just wanted to call out my mistakes ahead of my annual review which was the following month. Towards the end of the call I asked if he had any positive feedback. At the beginning of the call I’d mentioned two areas of the project I thought went well…he reiterated those, and that was it.

      I’ve both cried and had nightmares over this job and my self esteem is taking a big hit. This letter was timely.

    3. BasketcaseNZ*

      I too have been here and apart from the sector could have written this exact role.
      I had the additional fun of my manager (who replaced a retirement) believing everyone but me as to what I had been told the job would entail when I was hired.
      It came down to deciding between the job and my mental health.
      I decided in early August I would hand in my notice in early September to finish early October.
      I handed in my notice two days after I made that decision because I just could not do this any more.

      Surprise! All the bad treatment vanished.

    4. Karia*

      I had a boss who would tear my work to shreds (figuratively) in front of the team, every week. She only did this to me. The only time she praised me was when a higher up highlighted my work, or one time where she praised my colleague who awkwardly told her it was my project. Like you, I ended up sobbing (before work in my case) on a daily basis. When I finally left, I remember her saying I could come back if my new job didn’t work out and I just stared at her incredulously.

    5. LPUK*

      I lived this reality too for two full years at the hands of a noted bully. My boss was a woman who way up from secretary ( which is a great achievement) but was determined no graduate recruit would get an easier ride. She made my life such a misery I used to cry in the office – I felt I never did anything right and she publicly belittled me, not only with my colleagues, but also my suppliers ( I was a retail buyer responsible for negotiating for £30 million sales). I’d just been promoted, had the boss that appointed me moved on and replaced by this woman two weeks after I joined, was dealing with lots of new skills and floundered for a year because I couldn’t tell if it was the job or me. After I checked with her previous direct reports and discovered she had a reputation for this, I started the route of ‘ no f**** given’ and started pushing back, saying we should take this issue to HR right now, if I was so poor at my job, learning to ignore her snide comments, even making her cry once ( I didn’t say anything mean about her, just that she was making me utterly miserable). She did once admit that I was very good at my job – that she asked me for things she thought were impossible and I somehow went out and delivered them- but it didn’t improve our relationship at all and it actually only ended when I completed my two years in that role and went to another dept ( company liked to move buyers around frequently) from where I could watch her do exactly the same thing to a much more experienced buyer. My biggest learning from that job was never ever to let myself be put in that position, where I doubted my own skills, again, even if it meant leaving without a job to go to, because it destroys your confidence, which makes it so much more difficult to find a new role.

      1. Critical Rolls*

        It really says a lot about a person who’s had a hard go of it, whether they choose the route of “no one should suffer like I did” or “everyone should suffer because I did.”

    6. Curmudgeon in California*

      I had one like that too. I ended up severely depressed to where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, which in turn led to more abuse. Since I was young and dumb it kept escalating until they fired me for a problem that they literally caused. They actually blamed me, in writing, for causing “poor morale” when I was literally the lowest rank employee there.

      I subsequently cashed out my 401k and took six months to reset my head after that. The best thing was working temp jobs after that that paid me twice what that place had and didn’t abuse me. But the hit to my self image still has consequences to this day.

      My advice to the OP is to RUN. Find another gig sooner than later. An abusive boss can damage people irreparably, IMO. I had one friend who was gaslighted and abused so badly at his job, his self esteem so destroyed that he literally committed suicide when they fired him. Never let it get that far. Your sanity is worth more than any job will ever be.

  3. gorplady*

    I literally, as in today, left a job like this with a manager exactly like that. All I can say is start looking now and get out ASAP. You cannot change their behavior, you can only change your response and your situation. Stay employed if you can and try to line something else up if not having income is not something you can sustain for any length of time, but realise it’s not you, it’s them. All the best to you.

    1. Murphy*

      This. Not the point of the letter, but you can pry my dark mode from my cold dead hands.

      (We joke about it when it’s my turn to share my screen at a team meeting, but no one’s ever seriously asked me to turn it off!)

      1. Tigress in Tech*

        This reminds me – the other day, I asked my professor to help with an error in my code. He took one look at my code and joked, “Well, the first thing you need to do is fix all those colors!”

        *Everything* is color-coded when I’m coding (a literal rainbow of colors), and I’m a dark mode fan while he always in light mode with two colors only. He would never seriously ask a student to change from dark to light mode, though.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          I do data entry and use color coding on spreadsheets to note the status of things. Ex: Update a is done, Update b needs to be done after I get through the list the first time. Or, this is an if-then-else situation and Update c needs to be done instead. Totally get color coding.

          A major hobby for me is photography/photo editing/fractal art, so I’m totally a visual person.

    2. Stephanie*

      It’s not the same thing but I keep my start bar at the top of my screen and it has thrown people wildly off. Still, I really like it and would not accept being told I couldn’t.

      1. CreepyPaper*

        Mine’s to one side and I do get a lot of ‘how do you work like that?’ and when I point out that it gives me more real estate to view documents top to bottom the person inevitably goes ‘ohhh good idea’.

        How other people have their screens is nobody’s business.

      2. Maurynna*

        I have my task bar on the right of my screen and use a rollerball mouse. Even throws off IT people. But having it on the right gives me more vertical screen space and the mouse keeps me from crying every night from tendinitis in my elbow so yea.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      I could kind of understand changing it when presenting/screen sharing as it’s not for everyone, but how I set up my screens for my own work is my business.

    4. Jshaden*

      I was under the impression that, at least in the tech world, I’m the weirdo for liking light mode better. But I’d never ask anyone else to change their screen…

      1. Dutchie*

        I absolutely hate dark mode. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one in the tech world because I, too, had been given the impression I was the only one.

        I would never ask someone else to change it though.

      2. peanut*

        I have a color deficiency and when others are screen-sharing I have asked to change to light mode since it’s hard for me to see the colors in dark mode. Hopefully that’s kosher. Feeling a little bad with it being described as insane…

        1. WindmillArms*

          I took the boss’ demand as “Turn your screen to light mode *permanently*” rather than “for this meeting.” Asking someone to change it to help you see it more clearly during screen-sharing is totally fine!

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, my boss at my last job had a problem with dark mode/dark terminals. I created a terminal profile with his name. Whenever he was looking as something on my computer I would switch the terminal profile to the one designed for his comfort. It was just a little thing, but it made working together easier. When it was just me I would use my default.

        2. Gerry Keay*

          “Can you change temporarily this so I can read the screen” and “Can you change permanently this to fit my aesthetic preferences” are very different! You’re fine.

        3. Erin*

          “I, personally, struggle to read in dark mode; would you please be so kind as to switch to light mode for this session?” != “dark mode is wrong, you are wrong, stop being wrong”

          one is a massive overstep, one is a reasonable request based on biological limiting factors.

      3. Clisby*

        I was a computer programmer for years before retiring, and I DESPISE dark mode. (It’s like printing a newspaper in white type on a black background. Although, maybe some people would like that.) Still, it’s none of my business what others use.

        1. Cercis*

          It reminds me of microfiche. And gives me headaches and eyestrain. But again, if people like it, then they should use what works for them (I recently learned that discord doesn’t have to be dark mode and suddenly discord became an option for me).

    5. many bells down*

      I actually hate dark mode; it hurts my eyes to look at. However I realize most people prefer it. I don’t think it’s insane to ask someone to switch for a shared presentation, though.

      1. Observer*

        For a shared presentation, OK. But it sounds like she insisted on it being in light mode all the time, not just for the meeting.

      2. Rainy*

        I’ve asked people who are screen-sharing with me to switch to light mode for the duration of the screenshare, because light type/dark background gives me a migraine if I have to look at it for very long. I’d never demand they switch permanently, of course, but if you are asking me for feedback on something, I have to be able to see it.

      3. SongbirdT*

        I’m with you – dark mode is physically painful to read (very weird). But if I needed to ask someone to switch it for a presentation, I’d let them know why and and with a tone that makes it clear I’m asking as a favor, not a demand. That’s the difference here, I think.

      4. The googles they do nothing*

        Just curious (not at all snarky!), how would you feel if I asked you to change your settings for a shared presentation to from light to dark mode?

        Light mode hurts my eyes – I often literally recoil when opening something that is mostly white – but I have always thought that it’s my own issue to deal with and haven’t considered asking others to change for me.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          If it were a group presentation type thing and you didn’t like the white background of the powerpoint slides I’d think it was inappropriate. But if I’m screen sharing with one other person and we’re sorting through something tricky in a piece of code that we’ll have to stare at for a bit, I’d happily switch if you asked politely, especially if you mentioned that it hurt your eyes or caused some other problem and wasn’t just a preference.

        2. Lila_lou*

          This, exactly. All of these people not hesitating to ask others to change their preference without even considering whether there is a reason that they prefer it that way and just assuming their reason supersedes every one else’s. Everyone gets to keep it in the mode they prefer when it’s their turn to present seems fair enough to me.

        3. Rainy*

          If it’s screensharing and you can’t use light mode because it hurts your eyes and I can’t use dark mode without getting a migraine, I’d send you the file and we’d look at it separately, I guess, each in our own preferred mode.

          Is it my own issue? Well, yeah, but a pretty serious one that can mean me losing the rest of the day to a migraine.

          1. Kal*

            The fun thing is that I can’t use light mode without getting a migraine. Life before dark mode and my CSS overrides was painful (and light mode things when I’m stuck in a dark room are the WORST). So yeah, my preference for dark mode is also my own issue, but I can also lose the rest of the day and even the next day to a migraine. So both sides of the issue can have the same serious repercussions, but it still feels like it is generally less acceptable to ask someone to change to dark mode than the opposite, since light mode was the default for so long.

            1. Rainy*

              For the record, if someone asked me to switch to dark mode, I’d explain that I can’t because migraine. If their response was that they have to look at it in dark mode or they’ll get a migraine, I’d just ask them to send me the file and we’d look at it together separately. :)

              I certainly wouldn’t be offended if someone asked, though! I think you can always ask, especially when it regards your health.

          2. LightSideDarkSide*

            Yeah, separate files is sometimes the only option. I have vision issues such that most dark modes just look like solid black boxes to me—I not only can’t read the text, I can’t tell the text exists at all, no matter how long I stare at it.

      5. DataSci*

        This wasn’t a “presentation” (where you presumably have an actual format, probably based on a template, rather than just a light mode / dark mode toggle), just a screenshare. And while I much prefer dark mode, I cannot in a billion years imagine having the gall to ask someone to switch *their* preferred style for *my* convenience just because they’re sharing their screen.

    6. IndyDem*

      I love dark mode! But I can’t use it – when we copy from our most used software and paste it into Teams in dark mode… it doesn’t show up :(

      1. Delia*

        If you paste in Teams using ctrl + shift + v it pastes without formatting. Worth a shot!

        1. Delilah*

          Or command + option + shift + v on a mac – I was told this only a few days ago and it’s made such a difference already

    7. Irish girl*

      I love dark mod for everything but editing word docs which for whatever reason i dont like in dark mode. Certian things i will try an turn off or move to light mode if someone has an issue with it due to migraines but one persons trigger is another persons cure.

    8. Anne Wentworth*

      Saaaame. Also, I have dark/light mode set in 3+ different places, so that would lead to a lot of time wasted trying to flip everything. Sounds like the manager is trying to exert inappropriate control over a situation she doesn’t feel she is controlling properly.

  4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    She doesn’t like you using dark mode? In software development? I’m giving her side-eye just for that.

    Making you change from dark mode to light mode because she doesn’t like something that’s working for you? Excuse me, but I think I just sprained my eyeballs from how hard I’m rolling them.

    (In other words, that’s all on her.)

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I think a reasonable person could say something like “I’m having trouble reading your shared screen due to my lighting. Could you swap it back to light mode for this call so I can see it better?” without being a jerk. People do find different color schemes easier or harder to read, and screen share sometimes reduces size/resolution.

      Insisting that you work with different settings in general is ridiculous, though. Up there with the junior employee who disabled a colleague’s caps lock because he didn’t like how she typed. Let people work how they want!

      1. Observer*

        Up there with the junior employee who disabled a colleague’s caps lock because he didn’t like how she typed. Let people work how they want

        Almost. The difference is that THAT employee was new to the workforce it’s possible that inexperience played some role in his obnoxiousness. This is a manager who is not new to the workforce, though. So she doesn’t even have that minimal excuse.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I thought of that letter, too. And I wish, wish, wish, wish that OP overheard her telling another employee she needed to use dark mode.
          Honestly, OP is manager’s BEC. And building on that metaphor, is also banana crackers.
          Still wonder why she has it in for OP, but she clearly does.

      2. techie*

        We do a lot of screen sharing, with people in light or dark mode. The only thing that’s requested is to increase font size if someone can’t read the screen. Nobody’s demanding to change modes.

    2. inkheart*

      I have had a boss and an ex-spouse actually in-person turn down the brightness and/or contrast on MY screen because “you’re ruining the life of the screen.”

      1. Zweisatz*

        And you only have one set of eyes (meaning they have to last your whole life), but apparently that doesn’t matter…

  5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I’m so morbidly curious about why this horror of a manager is mistreating you. You, OP, should internalize from this statement only that your manager is mistreating you. Full stop.
    Her words and actions are not normal, not acceptable and definitely not your fault.
    Good luck on your job search.

    1. By Golly*

      I’m developing a working theory that she’s never worked with another woman before and has both an internalized misogyny AND an overt belief that “I paid my dues and so should every other woman in this male dominated field.” which she uses to excuse her terrible behavior toward the OP.

      1. The Original K.*

        The latter was a prevalent attitude at the BigLaw firm where my best friend used to work. She looked for allies, especially after she had her first child, and found that attitude.

        1. Cate*

          So bad for Big Law, and corporate industries in general. When a female manager pushed my girlfriend into burnout, her psychologist told her that it was mostly female managers with “queen bee syndrome” that bring their junior female staff into his office.

          1. coffee*

            A while back, I read about some research that said that a male-dominated workforce will often be okay with a small percentage of women, but as that percentage increases they start to push back against all women, even the original ones they were okay with, presumably because the actual culture change/loss of power becomes threatening. So if you’re a woman doing well in a male dominated and sexist workplace, then you can wind up pushing down/out other women in order to protect yourself. (Just another way that sexism/the patriarchy SUCKS.)

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        Ding ding ding. I work in public safety (heavily male dominated) and it’s pretty much one of two extremes – a fellow woman will either support you or try to eat you alive.

        1. Free now (and forever)*

          I just binge watched four seasons of “The Crown.” Margaret Thatcher. OMG. You didn’t have to worry about her eating a female colleague alive. She didn’t allow them. Her sexism and misogyny was such that I wanted to throw rocks at the screen when she appeared.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            She was such a bizarre personality (and also an absolutely terrible prime minister.) She liked her men to be very subservient to make her look stronger, but I think a lot of the weird stuff she did was to project strength, because that was the only way she could succeed as a woman in politics in that era.

            1. Pennyworth*

              Before she entered politics she’s worked as a research chemist and a barrister – both male dominated fields. That might have influenced her outlook and behavior towards women.

          2. Gerry Keay*

            I had to stop watching The Crown because Thatcher makes me so angry my stomach hurts.

      3. OrigCassandra*

        I also caught a whiff of possible queen-bee syndrome.

        OP, there’s been org-behavior research indicating that in some workplaces, women cut each other down, sometimes because we (I am cis female) perceive (rightly or wrongly) that the workplace will only harbor so many women, sometimes because we get attached to being the only, sometimes because we feel threatened by another woman’s expertise or excellence.

        So, there’s some chance this isn’t responding to failure on your part — but to your boss perceiving considerable potential in you. Boss’s response to that is unequivocally wrongheaded and horrible, of course, but I hope the possibility helps you feel better.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I was thinking this might be the case. The manager sees the OP as a threat. I’ve had similar experiences in both work & grad school. Some women, rightly or wrongly perceive other competent women as a threat.

      4. Salymander*

        Yeah I think this is exactly what is going on. I worked with people like this. It was very unpleasant. No matter how well I did everything, they still acted like I was too low to even wipe their shoes on. I guess if a person has that level of internalized mysogyny they really get a kick out of destroying a supposedly acceptable target in order to pull rank and feel important. This was 30+ years ago. It is crushingly disappointing that this kind of garbage is still alive and well.

      5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Agree with this and all the similar queen-bee type responses.
        OP’s throw away, “we’re both women and the only ones,” Occam’s lady schick. She’s not sharing her perch.

      6. Annika Hansen*

        I am in IT and have seen the same thing. It isn’t a majority of women. But I have seen some terrible behavior.

      7. Snarkastic*

        This was my feeling, as well. Because the OP made some early mistakes, the manager decided she was “bad representation” or something. She sounds like a terrible person to work with or for. Imagine being the only other woman and not getting invited to office-wide social events?

        This is not Highlander, ma’am!

        1. No Tribble At All*

          1000% this “bad representation”. I realized I (woman engineer) was falling into this trap when I was more impatient training the new woman than the new man. I expected her to be better because I’m not used to average/medium women engineers… I was used to only the really insanely dedicated ones making it through. And I was worried about her lack of progress reflecting badly on me — the combination of woman trainer & woman trainee = double the incompetence hurr hurr.

          1. Tigress in Tech*

            I think this is something a lot of women struggle with in tech and engineering (and, I assume, male-dominated fields in general). I’m not even out of undergrad yet and I’m already finding it’s difficult to avoid these traps – if I’m not careful, I find myself being way more competitive with and critical of the few other women in the class than the men, which is not helpful to me or anyone else. Internalized misogyny is really difficult to fight.

        2. MsClaw*

          Yeah, I think it may be some ‘you’re making us all look bad’ feeling on the manager’s part. Also, the phrasing in the OP’s letter of ‘She therefore takes on the (sexist) unpaid labor of organizing social events outside work’ while not wrong, made me wonder if OP isn’t also giving off the vibe that she thinks the Boss is doing her job and/or feminism wrong too? Which could be part of why they’re having this clash. It certainly is on the Boss to take the high road though, and try to help the OP.

          I will say this though to new/young employees in general, many many jobs, especially in software development, are not going to spend a whole lot of time ‘training’ you. If they hired you it’s because they think you …. know how to do the job they hired you for. Being given a week to figure out how to check in code, follow their style guide, use their ticketing systems, etc is more than a lot of places will give you. They typically expect you to learn how to do the job by doing the job (and spending time on stack overflow).

      8. I Faught the Law*

        I too dealt with this when I was in Big Law. My new profession is female-dominated, but the one terrible boss I’ve had clearly had a ton of internalized misogyny.

      9. kiki*

        Yes. There’s often bias in tech (and other fields too, I’m sure) where women need to be perfect in order to be seen as good while men are free to be flawed, learning individuals. My male coworkers can have whoopsie daisies where they bring down prod for a minute, but they put out the fire and learn and everyone accepts that breaking things is par for the course of software development. If I were to bring down prod for any reason, I get judged as incompetent even if the error behind it is wildly complex or wouldn’t have been predicted by a man at my level. And then men wonder why female engineers are stressed at work.

      10. Some dude*

        That’s what I was thinking, based on colleagues’ experience having a boss who shared their same identity that was vastly underrpresented in their field.

      11. Curmudgeon in California*

        This is probably correct. I had a female manager who was, quite frankly, an abusive, negative jerk who would play favorites, gaslit me constantly, referred to my male coworkers as her minions, and was the worst “bucket crab”[1] I’d ever worked for.

        [1] Bucket crab: AKA “Crab Mentality”. Like crabs in a bucket will drag the one trying to get out back down in. See

    2. you can't fire me i quit*

      She’s a bully — plain and simple. Bullies get personal satisfaction from humiliating others because they don’t know how to cope with their own self-loathing. They choose a target (usually someone who’s vulnerable or makes them feel threatened in some way) and take all their insecurities out on them. It’s sad.

    3. DrivingDitalini*

      Allison’s idea resonates with me, because in my younger days, I was a terrible manager – I was insecure, lacked people skills, and had no idea what I was doing. When a new hire made mistakes, I didn’t know how to deal with them in a healthy manner, so I just built up frustration and resentment. I wasn’t OP’s-manager level of awful, but I would like to apologize to some folks….

    4. Saraquill*

      My manager at Lastjob is an odd case. Pre pandemic, she took out her stress on select employees, but earmarked me as a favorite. Post return, two of her scapegoats were gone but my desk was right there, so I became a common target while a newer worker got kinder treatment.

      It was a place I worked at for several years, and I’d hoped to stay longer. My last few months wiped out much of that sentiment.

      1. Stargazer*

        FYI this is a VERY common thing im dysfunctional families – the designated family scapegoats leave, and the former “Golden Child” gets tossed unceremoniously into that role because the toxic parents NEED someone to be their punching bag. The normal result is the new scapegoats demanding that the runaways come back to their Cinderella role because they can’t stand being treated that way themselves now, but you rarely hear of cases where their eyes are opened to the fact that it was never okay and making common cause against the toxic parents.

  6. Lizzy Lou*

    Ooph. Take it from someone who always tried to make it work even when it’s clear its not going to happen, get out. Maybe they’re a bad manager. Maybe they’re setting you up to fail. Either way, step up your job search.

  7. Adriane A (LW)*

    Hi everyone. It’s the original letter writer here.

    Alison: Sincerely, thank you so much for the advice. I really appreciate it. I was very successful at college and in my first job, so her behaviour really knocked me sideways. I’m very reassured that it’s a very rare case of it just Not Being Me.

    However, I do have some bad news. I was let go today, citing that I “failed to meet the standards expected of the company.” Which is, you know—terrible and awful and very demotivating, but on the nice side, at least I’m free of her now! I have enough money to last ~6 months and I’m going to apply for jobs with and without this on my resume, trying both ways.

    I have an interview for a new role on Friday, and I’ve contacted my university’s career center for advice. I also have networked with a recruiter (not in my field) in the hopes that she can help me work out how to phrase this when it comes up, and what her general advice is. I’m obviously not going to name and shame or try and badmouth or anything. I just think she needed someone more experienced and while she’s very good at our role, she’s not very good at managing people.

    Anyway, I’m going to go back to playing videogames and crying, haha. Thank you very much for the support; I really appreciate it!

    1. animaniactoo*

      [sending hugs] (if you’d like to accept them)

      Mojo for your job search! I hope you find something that is a better fit for you, in a healthy company with a boss that actually knows what they’re doing on the management front.

    2. supertoasty*

      Honestly? Based on this letter, being let go was probably for the better, if only because you’re out of Crappy McManager’s incredibly rude graces. Go nail that interview on Friday, and best of luck in a hopefully better job! I’m sure I speak for the commentariat when I say we’re all rooting for you.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Yes indeed! Getting away from that stinkin’-bad manager (and that awful human being) is going to be a tremendous relief, once the shock of being let go passes; and getting an interview almost immediately? Sounds good to me!

        Best wishes to you, OP — your next job(s) will be a LOT better than that one was, and your next managers . . . okay, they’ll all have their quirks, but you’ll know that if things go bad, you can come here and ask for advice, AND you can get another job.

        Let us know how things go!

    3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      Hey OP, I know how much today really sucks for you–I’m so sorry. It DEFINTELY wasn’t you in this case, and I hope you land somewhere decent with a quickness. Play all of the video games and be extra kind to yourself today. And I’m glad you won’t have to interact with that manager further, she sounds abusive af.

    4. Rocket Woman*

      Best of luck on your job search! And kudos to looking on the bright side of being free of her now.

    5. MSWIntern*

      I would recommend keeping this job off of your resume for all jobs. You weren’t there long, your manager isn’t going to have anything nice to say about you, and it’s clearly not an accurate reflection of you as an employee/colleague. It adds nothing to your resume. Leave it off.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        I second this! You weren’t there for even 6 months, there’s really no reason to include it.

      2. NNN222*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. Being let go on the early side was probably for the best in this case if LW was likely to be let go within 6 months no matter what. It allows leaving this job off of her resume without creating too much of a gap between the first post-grad job and her next one.

    6. Lady_Lessa*

      Sorry that you were let go, but it sounds like a relief.

      From a 5 or 6 laid off experiences, allow yourself to grieve for what might have been.

      It sounds like you are doing the right things, and mojo with your favorite foods to find your next and right job.

    7. FromasmalltowninCanada*

      Good luck on the interview! Honestly, a bad manager can completely destroy your confidence and have long term impacts. My very first professional job was like that. I’m so glad your first one was a good experience and now you’ll have some time to regroup and get into a good headspace. But I also know from experience losing a job (even if you expected it) is really hard, be kind to yourself. Internet hugs if you want them.

      1. Alex*

        Mine was the same. But I did eventually bounce back, and slowly build the confidence again. I hope OP can too!

    8. Scott*

      it sounds like these standards would have been impossible to meet, given that she was unwilling to tell you what they were in relation to areas where she was giving you feedback like “be more open.”

      Being in a bad job will warp your expectations of normality and acceptability, and especially at this stage in your career – being let go from this job is going to be beneficial to you in the long-run, even if it seems demotivation and scary just now.

      1. Scott*

        also – you have an interview for somewhere already! This is a reflection your skills and background, so right away you have evidence that this was a Her Problem and not a You Problem, because if you were as useless as she wanted you to feel then you would not have found this opportunity so quickly.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Standards that are impossible to meet means you were set up to fail, OP. Some how your failure is a feather in her cap.

        Check back in 10-20 years. She will still be at this job, still doing the same miserable thing to people and wondering why life is passing her by.

        You OTOH, OP, are going to be just fine. I looved how you expressed your thought process in this letter and I loved how you laid things out so clearly. You have a lot going right for you.

    9. Data Nerd*

      Oh goodness, OP, what a terrible experience. Best of luck at the interview on Friday, and hopefully you can get your confidence at work back soon!

    10. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you’re in the US, go ahead and file for Unemployment Insurance benefits as well.

      In my state we get a lot of “fired” people who are completely eligible for benefits because the employer changed the expectations of the job, or because they hired a person they thought would work out but didn’t.

      1. introverted af*

        That’s what I was going to say – the system is pretty obtuse, but let them tell you if you are eligible or not

      2. Generic Name*

        Yep! Even if your claim is denied, at least your employer will have to put in the effort to fight it. And if you do get unemployment, you’ll not only get some money while you job search, you can also have the satisfaction that your former employer’s unemployment insurance rates just went up. :)

        1. Elbie*

          This. I have seen instances where HR has said that they will not fight an unemployment claim, even if someone has been let go. What do you have to lose in trying (aside from a bit of time)?

          1. Frank Doyle*

            Well that’s good, because unemployment insurance is *for* people who have been let go! One usually has to have done something quite egregious (like stealing) to be unable to qualify. Just run of the mill wasn’t-performing-well-enough isn’t enough to keep one from collecting.

      3. Gumby*

        Also? Even if you have a 6-month cushion – apply anyway!!! You paid into the system so it is there for you even if you won’t lose your housing or go hungry or whatever without it. (The first time I was at a company that went kaput, I mentioned that I was going to rely on savings and a co-worker gave me the 20-minute version of that speech and she was right!)

    11. MEH Squared*

      I know this had to hurt, but I truly believe it’ll be better for you in the long run to be rid of this manager. This was ALL about her and not you at all (even if you weren’t suited for the job). Game and cry your heart out, and good luck in your job interview!

    12. Murphy*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! I’ve been fired before too, and it sucks. Full stop.

      But things do get better and there are better jobs out there. I hope you find one soon!

    13. SongbirdT*

      Oh no, virtual hugs to you!

      I think most of the readers here will be rooting for you, and I hope that helps in some small way.

      You were treated absolutely terribly, and I’m wishing you all the best for a perfect role with an amazing manager next time around!

    14. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Good luck on Friday! Cry out all the bad stuff, and then remind yourself of everything you’re good at and everything you’re capable of learning. You’re going to do great!

    15. Goldenrod*

      Adriane – This is good news disguised as bad news!! You will be great in your career! You just had a sucky boss. Best of luck!!

    16. R*

      Just, as someone who was let go from a major post-college job that I wasn’t remotely a fit for, and while my boss wasn’t toxic it was essentially the same situation — being laid off from that job was legitimately the best thing to ever happen to me. In my case I’d had notice and severance and unemployment, which were huge advantages (have you filed for unemployment yet? Do that immediately if you haven’t), but in every way this is a blessing and my biggest regret was feeling like an overwhelming failure because of it. You’re not a failure because an abuser dumps you — you realize you dodged a bullet. You can kind of do whatever you want now. One day you will wake up and you will be shocked at how irrelevant this job was to your life. You have freedom now. I know that doesn’t pay the bills, but you never have to feel the way you felt about this job ever again. Don’t ever discount that.

      1. The Original K.*

        “You have freedom now.” That’s so important to recognize. I’m working to change my career path and my therapist said “what if I told you you could do anything?” And I was fairly gobsmacked by that idea, but it’s very freeing to think about. You can do anything you want, OP! You have a financial cushion so you can think about what you want to do next! That’s great! And you never have to speak to or think about that manager again! How freeing, truly. Best of luck.

      2. SansaStark*

        I had the exact same thoughts that you just wrote. I just want to say this again because it bears repeating “you will be shocked at how irrelevant this job was to your life.” *Chef’s kiss* to that sentence. You couldn’t have convinced me of it at the time, but I literally never think about that job except when reading letters like this 10 years later. At the time it’s all-consuming, but one day (hopefully soon!) it’ll just be a weird blip in your life. Good luck on the job search!

    17. Anon (and on and on)*

      That woman was bananacrackers. Once you’ve had more jobs and bosses under your belt, you’ll be able to see some examples of good managing and she’ll look even worse by comparison! Sorry this is throwing you. It’s hard when you’ve never had negative feedback in school and then are thrust into a situation where you really can’t win, but it looks like that’s what happened. If you had had a good manager, you might have still let go for it not being a good fit, but it would have been done with dignity and respect. So sorry that that’s not what you experienced here!

    18. Fluffy Fish*

      I wish you all the better things you deserve to come your way.

      Please please internalize that this was NOT your fault. You were not given the tools to succeed and you were blocked and demoralized at every turn.

    19. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      If you didn’t already have an interview scheduled for Friday, my suggestion would be to take some time to let yourself be really upset (say, through Sunday), and only jump back into the job search on Monday. (As opposed to trying to pretend you aren’t upset, or trying to send out new applications while obviously upset.)

      In your case, good luck on the interview and enjoy your videogames!

    20. JM in England*

      I would recommend leaving a Glassdoor review of the company about how it treats employees.

      1. Anonymous4*

        WITH all the details! Like, for instance, the one (1) whole week of training. And the bit about “Be more open.” “All right; open how?” *EYEROLL* “Just be more open!”

        I’ve been working for some decades, and I’ve had some Terrible Bosses™, but I have never had any boss roll his or her eyes at me. Ever.

        And I assure you, in a few years, when people are trading Terrible Boss stories, you’ll be right up at the top. “Let me tell you about this one!”

      2. Adriane A (LW)*

        It already has a 1.5 out of 5. I will be more than happy to contribute to that number to make it lower. :-)

        (In my defence, most of the reviews were added after I was already hired, so I didn’t know about them when I was job hunting.)

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Ooh…that’s probably the worst rating I’ve seen on Glassdoor.

          I hope some of those tears are that of sheer relief that you no longer have to deal with this garbage pail person of a former manager. Please take a little bit of your savings and treat yourself– a massage or a facial, a little day or overnight trip, or something you’ve had your eye on but hadn’t bought. You deserve it! You dealt with 4.5 months of malarkey, so might as well get yourself something nice. Even if it’s just a nice piece of chocolate! Do something.

        2. Industrial Tea Machine*

          Oh golly. If you ever feel tempted to think you should have found a way to stay, what if it really wasn’t that bad, just say to yourself “1.5 out of 5. 1.5 OUT OF 5!” to remind you that you will have a better career and life far away from that nonsense.
          I mean, 1.5 out of 5!

        3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yikes! I know you cannot tell us which company this is due to a need to keep things anonymous, but I would love to read those reviews! Glad you are out of there!

    21. laowai_gaijin*

      Getting fired sucks, and I’m so sorry it happened to you. You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders, and I’m sure you’ll land on your feet. In the meantime, don’t feel bad about playing video games and crying. Borrow someone’s dog or cat to cuddle. Watch a movie that you know is bad but still love. Eat something that’s delicious and absolutely terrible for you. And then get back on your feet and hit that job search hard.

    22. Heather*

      I am sorry to hear that, bro!

      If anything, from another woman that had a female manager that did this, it seems both a gendered issue with her and her being a bad manager. We’re all not perfect our first couple jobs out of college, but that’s what training and development is for. Not this weirdness. Just the fact she made you change your monitor settings means that is a lot she needs to work on as both a person and a manager.

      I know it is hard, but don’t let it destroy you. We all let that one horrid manager do that: you’ll be successful in your next role. <3

    23. Triple Toe*

      What a crap experience – and what a terrible manager/person. Please keep all the good advice and insights here in the forefront of your mind as you process this. You will land on your feet and have many wonderful job experiences ahead!

    24. Colette*

      From someone in the software industry who has been laid off a few times. you’re probably better off. It’s really hard to be in the right frame of mind to job hunt when you’re in that kind of environment. I hope you find something great!

    25. Lana Kane*

      Even though this is likely for thebetter for you in the long run, I’m still pissed that they did this. Good luck in your job search – and I suggest that when you interview again, you consider the interview a 2 way street and ask THEM questions to suss out future bad management. Alison has great resources on this. Keep us posted, hope to see you in a Friday Good News!

    26. J*

      Sending you tons of love.

      As everyone has said, try not to internalize your former manager’s absurdity.

      As an aside— I was let go from one of my first jobs early in my career. I tried really hard to make it work but the culture was so toxic and it really wore my mental health. I felt like a failure for being laid off even though I tried so hard.

      It was legitimately the best thing that could have happened to me. The time allowed me to focus on finding a job that ultimately has led me to my life today. I am so grateful now for the amazing people I’ve met along the way (including former colleagues who I am still friends with).

    27. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      Probably for the best honestly. It sounds like it was a matter of time, and this way she’s saved you from having to deal with her (ridiculous, horrible) behavior any longer, and you should absolutely be eligible for unemployment. It’s definitely not you, it’s her! You’ll be ok.

    28. Siege*

      Excellent plan on talking with a recruiter. I found that if I sifted carefully through the advice I’ve been given over my lifetime by a careers office, several recruiting agencies, unemployment agents, and others, I could find good advice, but I could not just take all on board without critical thought. The big thing you’ll want is to practice how to talk about (or not talk about) this job, but maybe there are other questions you should practice too! Good luck with your search, and with the steps you’re taking, and take the time to feel bad, but know that everyone agrees, you were not the problem here.

      Also, if you haven’t, file for unemployment. You might be denied, but it sounds like this is only tenuously “for cause”, and frankly, I am a petty jerk who thinks that the company who gives employees such pain deserves to have to pay (literally) for that choice. You shouldn’t lose your entire savings, if you have a protracted search for the right company, just because your ex manager is well above her level of incompetence. And who knows, you might find out that they told unemployment something different, which is always useful information if you do keep this job on your resume. I was let go from a job years back who told me one thing and unemployment another, and it was a long enough stay I had to include it, so I appreciated the heads up that I could frame the discussion in future interviews to point out they would not give an accurate reference if asked.

      1. PT*

        I worked somewhere where it was common to mark people as “ineligble for rehire” as revenge for them daring to leave. Or they’d bully someone out of a job (discrimination/harassment/threats) and then say “Well she just quit with no notice and left us in the lurch, it was very unprofessional.” Even if the person had given notice already or was explicitly ordered to quit.

    29. Esmeralda*

      Sorry you got let go so suddenly, but — dang, an interview already!

      I got fired from my first post-college job. Turned out to be a good thing, since my boss was miscategorizing me as an independent contractor (the nice fellow at the IRS explained it to me) and I;m quite sure he was committing various frauds aside from that.

      My second job was with the nicest people I have ever worked with. I hope your next job works out as well!

    30. Salymander*

      Hi OP. I’m sorry you had to go through with this. It sounds really soul crushing. I’m glad you can take a little time to find a job that suits you, hopefully with much better management.

    31. HelloHello*

      I’m armchair diagnosing, but there’s a strong whiff of internalized misogyny in your bosses actions here. Deciding so early and with so little training that you’re never going to meet her expectations really feels like she’d made up her mind from the get-go that you weren’t a good fit, and that’s something that happens so often to women in male-dominated fields….

      1. Anonymous4*

        Deciding so early and with so little training that you’re never going to meet her expectations really feels like she’d made up her mind from the get-go that you weren’t a good fit, and that’s something that happens so often to women in male-dominated fields….

        Yes, you are armchair-diagnosing, which we’re asked not to do, and your diagnosis sounds misogynistic to me. I’m a woman in a highly technical, male-dominated field, and from the first day I walked out of uni with my degree, I have been welcomed by males and by females in my organization and in my field. Announcing that female managers frequently sabotage female employees in male-dominated fields is highly offensive as well as untrue, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t repeat that tarradiddle.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          “I didn’t experience this specific pattern of sexist behavior, therefore it must not be real” is something people are asked not to do here as well, IIRC. And if anyone mentioned a medical condition, I must have missed it.

          1. Anonymous4*

            I’m not saying that since I didn’t personally experience it, it doesn’t exist — but I am saying that it’s not as wildly pervasive as Hello is asserting. And what you did miss was Hello’s initial statement that “I’m armchair diagnosing” which opened hizzer post.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              I didn’t miss that — they used those words, but they did not do the thing that the site rules use those words to prohibit. (I would argue that they misused the phrase, but that’s neither here nor there.)

              Think about it: literally every time someone labels something as “sexism” or “racism”, that would be an “armchair diagnosis”, but to say that doing so is against the site rules would be ridiculous.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I think they were wrong, only in that saying something sounds like misogyny is *not* armchair diagnosing. It it certainly a guess made with a lot of missing context so it could be incorrect, but it is not unreasonable to point out. And saying it’s not pervasive because you didn’t experience it is… extremely similar to saying it doesn’t happen because you didn’t experience it.

              It happens. It is not uncommon. It might be what happened here. It might not be. Whether or not it is what happened here is not even slightly related to your own positive experience.

              1. HelloHello*

                Yes, my point was I’d need a lot more information to make this an educated guess rather than just a guess, but it was something to keep in mind given how often women in the workforce are doubted in that way.

        2. HelloHello*

          I didn’t say female managers, I said *all* managers do this, especially men but sometimes also non-binary people or women. Internalized misogyny is a thing, and women also are capable of acting in a biased manner. Just because you didn’t experience discrimination in your career doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and everyone, no matter their gender, should be cognizant of possible bias so they can recognize and avoid it.

        3. JLD*

          There’s a lot of this in these comments. Maybe the boss is awful but there’s no indication in the letter that it’s because of her gender yet “queen Bee” syndrome and other things are being tossed all around here. I don’t know it there’s a gender discrimination issue at the OP’s former job but this comment section is swimming in sexism.

        4. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          There’s also another way to look at this, which is less about women managers sabotaging women who report to them. Thinking about this structurally, people from underrepresented don’t always perceive themselves as having enough political capital to show up for others from their group. Or worse, they think there’s some disincentive in doing so.

          No one is in a position to benefit from internalized misogyny without someone else’s misogyny at play. You’re lucky to work in an environment that may not incentivize misogyny. But if you had experience elsewhere, you may recognize that the relationship between those things isn’t as simple as sexist griping about queen bees.

        5. ShinyPenny*

          “Misogyny” is not in any way a medical diagnosis, so the “no diagnosing” rule does not apply. (But now I am totally entranced with the idea. Like, imagine a world where misogyny is considered a diagnosable mental illness– would there be a pill for it then? A five day prescription and you are cured?)
          In the world we actually live in, “I spy misogyny” (racism, ageism, homophobia…) =/= “I spy psychosis” or “I spy narcissistic personality disorder.”
          One of the helpful actions we can take here, and out in the world, is to label a social bias problem (misogyny being only one of many) out loud when we find it– and help everyone learn to see it. This is Step One. Only after that step can the problem start to be addressed in a useful way.
          It’s also important to note that identifying the problem is not what creates the problem. The person who says, “This emperor has no clothes” is not the one who made this emperor naked—the emperor was naked all along. The US culture (and we are not alone in this) has a historical blindness regarding certain social biases. By working to counteract that blindness, we as individuals are taking tiny steps toward a more equitable culture.
          Your personal misogyny-free experience, unfortunately, does not affect the larger context– although I am happy for your good fortune.

        6. Emmy Noether*

          It’s not misogynistic to say that misogynism is a possible explanation. There’s a difference between saying that a specific set of circumstances fits with internalized misogyny, or even saying it’s a common problem, and claiming that *all* or *most* female managers necessarily always do this and always have problems with female employees (the latter I’ve heard from a friend of my fathers… it’s offensive).

          I’ve experienced misogyny in a male-dominated field. I’ve also experienced bad treatment by a female manager which I am convinced was not misogyny-based. It’s just one possible explanation.

        7. Salymander*

          Saying that a woman is probably taking out her internalized mysogyny on other women, based on a description that sounds very much like that very thing, is not sexist. It is also not armchair diagnosing. We need to be able to call out sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry in order to deal with them. Talking about sexism openly, offering support, and working on a solution are all good things. They do not equal mysogyny.

    32. Veryanon*

      Oh wow, I didn’t see this before my previous comment lower down. I’m sorry you were let go, but silver lining, at least you are okay for a little while and can take some time to really find something that is a good fit for you. And I’m glad you are out of that awful environment. Take some time to process through what happened; feel your feelings; and try to learn from it what you can. Best of luck to you and sending good vibes your way!

    33. Observer*

      I was very successful at college and in my first job, so her behaviour really knocked me sideways. I’m very reassured that it’s a very rare case of it just Not Being Me.

      You have a good attitude. It’s good that you were willing and able to take a good hard look at your own behavior to see what, if anything, you need to change. Don’t lose that ability – It’s really important and useful. But it’s equally good that you were able to “hear” that it wasn’t you. Because it’s just as important and useful to understand what is NOT your problem and what is NOT in your ability to fix. It keeps you from wasting time and energy and it helps keep you sane in difficult situations.

      It doesn’t sound like you are in the US, but if you have the US equivalent of Unemployment, please do apply. It may not be a lot, but it helps.

    34. Orora*

      Sorry that you were let go, but sometimes the universe makes our plans for us, and all we can do is ride along. You have a good plan and I’m sure you’ll land in a better place for you.

      So many managers get promoted to management because they’re good at technical stuff. That’s fine as long as they get some management training or mentorship. 99% of the time, they don’t, and some of them turn out like this. Some learn on the job, and others have good management instincts naturally. But honestly, a few management workshops should be mandatory for anyone who manages people. Being a good developer does not mean you’ll be a good manager.

    35. TransmascJourno*

      I’m so, so sorry, LW. If on the oft-chance you work in anything related to the media industry, I’d be happy to help you in your job search!

    36. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      For what it’s worth I’m kind of floored that a few sloppy errors, in the first few weeks of a job, from a junior developer would get any kind of reaction at all. It’s pretty much expected that junior devs will make mistakes, especially in their first few weeks working with new code, on a new platform. That’s what code review is for.

      I’d chock this whole thing up to bad management and bad process and move on with life. The good news is that the whole tech industry is hiring like wildfire right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have new job in less than a month

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        This [points up]. All of this. Both paragraphs.

        (And take advantage of the industry hiring like wildfire to pick a job that’s a good fit, instead of just taking the first thing you’re offered.)

      2. Tau*

        +1000! I was coming to say this – making errors, sometimes sloppy ones, is a very normal part of software development! Especially from a junior! In my first few weeks at my first dev job, I accidentally completely broke a part of the software (by adding a comment! still bitter about this) and it wasn’t caught until it was rolled out to the client. I basically wanted to sink into the ground and die of embarrassment, but the rest of my team went “OK, mistakes happen, how do we fix this ASAP? how can we change our testing processes to make sure a mistake in this area gets caught before it goes live next time?” Which is how any good company should handle this! A mistake would have to be either egregiously negligent (and that bar is *a lot* higher for a junior dev) or part of a pattern for me to start eyeing the dev in question.

        Your boss sucked and wasn’t going to change, OP. I’m sure that you’ll land a much better job in no time. :)

        1. Delilah*

          I was coming to say this too ha! If you’re able to make mistakes that your boss has to fix when you haven’t been there very long then there’s something really off with the whole place – these mistakes should be caught before they cause any problems and you should be helped to understand why they’re bad and how to fix them, not have your boss have to tidy anything up. And as said above, mistakes are absolutely expected, honestly however long you’ve been there. My boss has been a dev for decades and still sometimes has excellent commit messages of nothing but “Oops”!! At a previous job years ago when I accidentally deleted the local media folder for a website that automatically pushed changes up to prod (mm, efficient destruction) I panicked but told my boss as I had to, and she just laughed. Deletions weren’t pushed up automatically turns out but even if it had broken stuff she wouldn’t have blamed me, she would have blamed the process that allowed it to happen.

          There’s some really interesting stuff around this if you search for psychological safety – feeling safe enough to try things and make mistakes without fear of consequences – and it’s one of the best indicators of high-performing teams.

          Tau, adding a comment that broke stuff is so annoying! I’d be bitter too!

        2. Polly Hedron*

          Tau, I used to be a software developer so I’m curious: how did adding a comment break anything?

          1. Tau*

            XML. I didn’t know that XML comments are treated as a separate node, so that if you put them in the middle of a text node it effectively cuts off the text. We had a really long script living in an XML config file, I changed something in it and was trying to be conscientious about documentation, and I went “OK I just tested this five minutes ago, all I’ve done is add a comment, surely I can push this change without testing again?”

            …I’ve had better first tickets.

        3. Karia*

          Yeah – remember when we were talking about Maggie in another letter? Someone pointed out that straightforward, subtext free communication is the norm in tech where it’s often “X went wrong. How do we fix X? Good, let’s roll that out in future iterations!”

    37. Cate*

      I’m SO glad you’re out of there. Take yourself on a mid-week spa day, you’ve earned it.

    38. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Cry for joy. Seriously. You are better off. Here’s why you were let go: She had to let you go or be held accountable for why you weren’t up to speed. She could no longer justify using you as a punching bag.
      Going in everyday knowing you are going to be abused would have effed you up so much more than realizing this sick unit will have to live with herself and her insecurity everyday.
      I know I sound like your moms telling you mean kids are just jealous…but this woman is a POS for whatever reason and you are in a better situation now.
      You have your whole life ahead of you and will do great things. And you will recognize a run of the mill jerk real quick next time!

    39. generic_username*

      Sending you hugs. You did not deserve this awful treatment.

      As for keeping this on your resume – I’d remove it if I were you unless you’ve learned/done something new that you want to show or you have another reference to use from the company other than this manager (could be a more senior coworker who isn’t your direct supervisor but has worked with you). Some companies require a reference from every job listed on your resume (not just for job verification), and I cannot imagine your terrible manager will provide a good reference.

    40. Purple Cat*

      Oh man.
      I’m sorry you got laid off. I am sure it feels crushing and devastating. Allow yourself to feel those feelings. You will rightly be grieving.

      Then focus on how great it is that you already have an interview on Friday! That’s great news and we will all be rooting for you.

      Hopefully some point soon being fired will seem like the best thing that could have happened to you because it got you out from under your toxic manager and allowed you to fully focus on your job search.

      It’s her, NOT you!!

    41. tinybutfierce*

      Sending all the best wished for your job search, especially your upcoming interview! You got this!

    42. I Faught the Law*

      I’m sorry you got let go, but honestly, looking back to when I left a very similar situation, I wish I had let myself get fired rather than being pushed into the decision to leave without any severance or anything because I was panicking about preserving my reputation for my resume. It really didn’t matter and I ended up switching professions anyway. It’s great that you have some money saved up and can focus entirely on your job search!

    43. Been There Too*

      My condolences, OP — I hope you find a new position that’s better in every way very soon.

      I had a very similar experience early in my career, when like you, I was really hoping to find a mentor in my manager. This manager just did not like me no matter how hard I worked, how much I asked for and implemented feedback, how much I checked and double-checked my work. They never had any positive feedback for me and expressed disdain and annoyance every time I asked for help, so I learned to not ask them and find others to learn from. I was one of about 20 direct reports, and this manager clearly played favorites — at any given time there were about 5 people they favored, spent a lot of time with, and sometimes bent over backwards to help, 10 people who they seemed ambivalent toward, and 5 people who they actively disliked and tried to push out of their roles. For various reasons, I ended up staying in that role for 5 years, which was horrible for my wellbeing and really skewed my ideas of workplace norms. Thankfully since then, I’ve found that most managers are much more reasonable people who treat their reports decently.

    44. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Fingers crossed for you, LW! You seem like a kind, conscientious person. The fact that you had seriously considered where you are not perfect and were open to hearing that the situation was your fault are both pretty clear indicators that the crappy interpersonal dynamics are NOT on you. When it is the case that one person really is responsible for most/all of the crappiness, that person is very unlikely to be open to considering how they might be contributing to the problems.

      All this is to say. here’s hoping you will land a role soon that’s a better fit for you where you can be your awesome self and succeed!

    45. GingerJ1*

      Best wishes! You’re better off away from that Evil Manager™, and I hope you find a fantastic job soon.

    46. Calm Water*

      Congrats on the interview! If you decide to keep the job on your resume you blame ‘the system’ not your manager. The job description said X, but they needed Y. The training was designed for GHI and you needed ABC. There was no systematic training, your manager didn’t have support to do her tasks and oversee training etc etc etc. I have a suspicion you have learned far more than you think you have from this job and that given an opportunity to practise you will be surprised by how much you know.

    47. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry that you were let got but honestly it sounds like it will be a good thing in the long run. There is just no winning against a boss like this; once they set their sights on you (for whatever reason), it’s over.

      As Alison said, it’s not you. Take a couple of days to cry it out, have some ice cream or whatever you like, and then go out and knock ’em dead. You’ll find a way better job and, in time, you’ll look back on this unhinged, horrible manager and realize that it really WASN’T you; it was her. Good luck!

    48. Delilah*

      Hey OP, That must feel really sucky about the job but fly free and find somewhere much much nicer!! Good luck for the interview! Female dev here a few years into my career and happy to chat if I can be of service :)

    49. Saraquill*

      I too was recently laid off from a bad situation. I recommend using this time to decompress and rebuild your self esteem as well as applying for work.

    50. Some dude*

      My only advice to you is to not badmouth boss in interviews or to others in your field. If it comes up and is relevant you can mention that you had a really negative experience with her as your manager (like if someone is considering hiring her), but I had an awful experience with a manager who is now a superstar in my field, and I’ve learned to keep my pie hole shut about my experience them.

      And lots of video games.

    51. Maurynna*

      I mean, It’s one thing to politely say “I’m sorry I’m having a hard time reading things in dark mode, can you switch it back temporarily?” But to *demand* it?

    52. Underemployed Erin*

      The thing where she decided that you needed to have your screen in light mode was weird and micromanaging unless there was some context like “I have astigmatism and can’t see things in dark mode as well.”

      As you are job searching, do look for a collaborative environment. Ask people if they do things like pair programming. How would you help a junior developer who is not familiar with some technology? How do you help people get up to speed with your complex systems?

      All these are legitimate questions to help you understand how you are going to work with people.

    53. A PyLady*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this! I know it’s hard to internalize this but you didn’t fail to meet the company’s standards, she failed to do her *job.* But absolutely yay for freedom from a toxic boss!!!

      Please considering looking into whether there are any women-in-tech organizations in your area. I’ve found that their meet-ups and Slacks help provide perspective on workplace norms, support, mentoring, and education opportunities. Maybe there’s a Women Who Code chapter nearby?

    54. Amethystmoon*

      Sorry to hear that. But I wish you best of luck in looking for a new job, and hoping you’ll have a much better manager.

    55. Gabrielle*

      Oh I didn’t see this! Congrats on being out of there, honestly. I answered questions about my horrible short stay by talking about the type of work culture I thrive in and saying fairly lightly that that job didn’t have it.

    56. Curmudgeon in California*

      IMO, they did you a favor. Really.

      There was nothing you could have done to salvage the situation that was not of your making.

      Chalk it up to experience. Now you know what an abusive environment feels like. When you feel that feeling again, start putting out resumes, and be ready to bail.

      There are far too many abusive bosses like that, and the best thing is to be able to spot it early before it does you damage.

      Good luck on your job search!

    57. Anon and On*

      Send your ex boss a card celebrating women’s history month. Tell her you’re celebrating that she’s history.

  8. Unkempt Flatware*

    Holy Hanukkah Balls. This person wrote my experience with very-recent-ex-boss. I was told I made too much to be trained by her and that she expected me to train myself (I made $70K). When I finally asked for a 1:1 with her to discuss my job, she told me she had been waiting all along for me to set up a 1:1 with her and “what took so long?”. She only would tell me I wasn’t meeting expectations but couldn’t spend time telling me what those were. She told me she thinks I do nothing all day so I told her I’d send her a daily diary. She told me she wasn’t interested. She just liked proving to herself that women suck except her.

    Get out, OP. Get out before it is too late.

    1. Veryanon*

      Are you sure you and I didn’t work for the same manager at some point? In a job I held before my current role, I had a manager who just straight up lied about what I’d be doing in the job – what I was told during the interview wasn’t anywhere close to what she actually wanted me to do, and frankly, my skillset wasn’t strong in that area, so of course it wasn’t a great fit. I was very honest in the interview about what I’m good at and what I’m not, so I don’t really know why she hired me, except that I think she was desperate to get a warm body into the job and then treat them like cr*p.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Probably that was work she was supposed to do/learn to do and assumed that the new hire could just slide in and do it. “it’s not that hard. I just don’t want to.”
        But I speculate a lot. She’s a jerk. That’s enough to know.

      2. Karia*

        Yep. I had a similar situ; I was hired to do a individual contributor tech role and the manager just… treated me like her assistant, and gave me tasks that were both very menial and completely outside my skillset. The role’s been re-advertised 3 times since I left.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I really hate dark mode, but I’m SUPER indignant on OP’s behalf! Different people have different eyesight, let people do their work in the settings that work for them!

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        I actually switch between dark and light modes depending on how I’m (physically) feeling. I was extremely excited when I learned that one of the tools we use at our office has both a Dark (mostly navy blue) theme and a Night (mostly black) theme. (Most of the time I find the navy color scheme easier to read, but if I’m dealing with headaches and/or sinus issues, then the black is usually easier on my eyes.)

    2. Elenna*

      I prefer light mode, but I’ve got the common sense to know that lots of people prefer dark mode and it’s none of my freaking business!

      (One exception, for a shared presentation if someone is genuinely having a hard time reading I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “hey, I’m having trouble reading that, can you switch the mode just for this presentation”. But you need to be polite about it, which Jerk Boss clearly was not, and in any case the letter definitely makes it sound like she wasn’t having trouble reading anything, she was just being a jerk.)

      1. allathian*

        There’s an extension for dark mode for Chrome at least. But if you’re surfing on your employer’s equipment, it’s possible they’ve disabled extensions. Google “dark mode + your browser” for others.

  9. Lyngend (Canada)*

    OP, I’d suggest going to hr if you have them. Be clear that you understand that you have room to improve, but that you don’t feel you are being given the tools to do so, and being isolated from the rest of the team. And want to prevent anyone else, especially people hired after you are fired, from getting the same treatment.
    Frame it that way and it won’t seem like a retaliatory complaint. If phrased wrong it might be.

    1. Elise*

      I don’t think this will work. OP has performance problems which may well have been documented by the manager, and the manager seems merely nasty, but not discriminatory or doing anything that rises to the level of hostile work environment. I think OP should just focus on getting out.

  10. KatT*

    This sounds so, so familiar from my last boss – ironically, just as I geared up to job hunt, she quit.

    My new manager is ok, but it’s been three months and my motivation has only recovered from hating my job to tolerating it.

    OP, it helped a ton to talk to other people I’ve worked with, many of whom think much more highly of me. Any chance you can find such people?

    1. voluptuousfire*

      YES! OP, if you have any feedback from colleagues who emailed you about your praises, forward it to yourself if you still have access to your work email. I have a folder in my inbox that has copies of feedback from over the years from colleagues who loved my work. When I worked with my previous team (who were decent people but just were not used to fostering a relationship with people in my role because that’s not what they were used to) and did not get any feedback, it would make me feel wretched. I would pull those emails out and remind myself I was more than this and would have my moment elsewhere.

  11. Rocket Woman*

    This reads very much like a woman who had to fight the boys club to succeed in her field and instead of helping more women get into it, she is making sure the new women have to “deal with the same treatment” by being horrible to LW. LW, as a female engineer who has dealt with women like this, this is NOT about you. Keep you head up and keep looking for a new job!!

    1. Susan Ivanova*

      I was warned in my first week that the female grandmanager had worked her way up to where she was back in the early 90s and thought all other women should have to do the same. Well, I’d been in the industry for slightly less time than she had and worked at many top places, so I thought I *had* worked my way to where I was.

      That team is now back to having only one woman on it. The man who warned me left before I did (and alas, I forgot which one he was in the mad rush of meeting so many people in the first week) so I couldn’t cite him to HR when everything blew up.

    2. Road Builder Gal*

      The worst boss I ever had was a woman. We were the only two female engineers on staff and she always blamed all her shortcomings on working with “woman haters”. I came along, was competent, experienced and well liked by my colleagues, so she turned on me and made my life miserable, much like yours is doing. Thankfully, she imploded and had to take an early retirement. So, LW, do NOT let her undermine your confidence.

      1. Masked Bandit*

        The exact same thing happened to me with my first boss right out of school. She was far harder on the women who worked for her than the men and particularly hard on me because I was up-and-coming and good at my job in a male-dominated industry.

      2. Anonymous4*

        The worst boss I ever had was a woman — she was waaaaay in over her head, and man alive, did it show.

        The best boss I ever had was a woman — she was smart, capable, corporate-savvy, kind, and one of the most reasonable people I’ve ever met. If there was a seemingly insoluble problem, she could find three different ways to untangle the knots. It was a sad day when her husband was offered a transfer to a place they’d often discussed moving to “when the kids were older.” Well, the kids were older, so . . . .

    3. J.B.*

      That’s what I thought too. Also not training in software development even to what the company’s styles seems like bad news.

    4. tinybutfierce*

      The worst boss I ever had was a woman who was a NIGHTMARE for so many reasons, one of them being that she excused her genuinely emotionally abusive behavior by saying she had worked in a male-dominated industry where “rude” behavior was commonplace, so she just got used to it and still behaved like she worked there. So apparently that excused how she regularly insulted and screamed at only her female employees, which resulted in most of her staff leaving within a year, all of us with no notice, because we knew she’d absolutely flip her lid and be even worse if we actually stayed for a notice period.

  12. Bluzcluz*

    Wow. This boss deserves worse boss of the year. Also worse person of the year. I know OP that you’ll do great and find something much better. Keep us posted.

  13. Essentially Cheesy*

    This is so relatable. I have spent way too much time in my working life with bad managers. I’m sorry OP. Choose to either deal with it or find a different position before you get too invested. It’s a hard choice but needs to be made sometimes.

  14. Ruth*

    I don’t like have to point it out but the fact that they are the only two women in the department and that women in male dominated fields can take on a lot of internalised misogyny kinda makes me think that’s part of the problem because she absolutely set you up to fail OP. I don’t think she would have treated a male subordinate the same way

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I noticed that as well. I, too, am in a male dominated field, and my women bosses are in the bottom half of supervisors ranked from best to worst.

    2. Adriane A (LW)*

      I’d love to think otherwise, but I do have a sneaking suspicion this is the case.

      There was another hire for our role (in another office, in a different country, around a different product) at the same time who is a man. My (now ex) manager *loved* this guy. Asked about his girlfriend, his apartment renovations, how c*vid was going in his country, etc… and then wouldn’t even ask how my weekend was.

      I dunno. As I mentioned above, I’ve been let go, so it’s all done now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find some good old internal misogyny was helping her along here.

      (As an aside, there was definitely a culture of misogyny at the company as a whole. There were three women in dev, the rest in HR, and a lot of “oh man my wife’s a f’ing bore guys, right?” Which is just… so very ew.)

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Oh wow, you definitely dodged several bullets getting out of there fast!

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, I’m sorry you were fired, but glad you’re out of there. I’m sure you’ll ace the interview tomorrow!

    3. Retro*

      I came to the comments to look for this perspective! Sometimes so few women are given a seat at the table that they end up fighting each other for that one seat instead of fighting for more seats. This sounds likes OP’s manager is threatened by any success OP may have.
      My friend had a manager like this one, and there was nothing to be done to make the situation better than to leave the situation.

  15. Rosemary*

    If you had not mentioned your industry, I would have thought for sure you were working for my former manager. It turned out the job was not a great fit, and my manager did exactly what yours is doing – made me feel like crap rather than doing something, anything, to help me succeed. I was eventually fired – but not before my confidence was in the toilet. PLEASE do not let her bring you down. Sometimes job are simply not a good fit for one’s skills/strengths/interests. And that is OK! But even if you know it is OK – it can still be hard not to internalize it as something you are doing wrong/a failure on your part – I know I certainly did. But then to have a manager who essentially piles on, it is 1000x worse. Please know this is NOT you. Good luck!!

  16. Not that kind of doctor*

    Agree with everyone that she’s being utterly ridiculous and needlessly cruel. For (relative) peace of mind, try to give yourself permission to do the bare minimum. It’s clear that no amount of effort is going to please her, so you might as well scale back the effort and focus your energy finding something new.

  17. Susan Ivanova*

    “You’re senior, I shouldn’t have to tell you.”

    Well, obviously you do, because I have no idea what you aren’t telling me.

    1. Goldenrod*

      Toxic bosses love playing the “read my mind and if you guess incorrectly, I will punish you” game.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        And if you guess correctly, I’ll move the goalposts to make it incorrect!

      2. tinybutfierce*

        The worst boss I ever had LOVED to play this game.

        “Why didn’t you do X thing Y precise way?”
        “You didn’t tell me to.”
        “Well, you should have known anyway.”

  18. JM in England*

    Telling the OP to “be more open” but not telling her exactly how to do so is a form of the “bring me a rock” game…

  19. Caz*

    This boss sounds like my old boss who brow-beat me into believing I was awful for so long that I stayed working under her for several years in the belief that I could never get hired elsewhere. There was a management reshuffle and line management of me moved to someone else who, in the first month that we were working together, thanked me and praised me more than my previous manager had in about a year. It was amazing.

  20. Kim*

    The advice is spot on. Sadly, some managers make up their mind about you in your first minute on the job and never revise their faulty opinion of you no matter how much or how quickly you improve and grow. I’m sure you’ve learned from the early mistakes you made and that you will go on to succeed and hit the ground running in your next job. Best wishes, and I hope you are free of this horrible manager soon.

  21. Ari*

    It sounds like you are an ideal employee in many ways—you ask questions, you own mistakes, you try to learn, you are open to feedback. You may not have all the skills that would help you succeed today, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t learn them IF your supervisor would take time to coach you and provide the resources you need. She reminds me of a former coworker who I suspect just didn’t enjoy the “boring” parts of being a supervisor. The only people who did well under her already knew the job and were self-motivated enough to find answers wherever they could. Anyone who needed extra help or didn’t know how to find their own answers ended up quitting. Best of luck in your job search!

  22. Goldenrod*

    I can’t agree enough with Alison!! There is NO excuse for this kind of mistreatment. None. Even if you were terrible at the job (which, clearly you are trying to learn and not getting much help, so I sort of doubt this is about you), this would be mean and inappropriate behavior.

    May I recommend the book by Robert Sutton, “The A**hole Survival Handbook”? It will be validating to read as you look for another job.

    No one deserves to be treated like this! Your boss is a horrid person.

  23. Elise*

    Sadly I’ve seen this type of situation a lot with bad managers (though outright saying she had no good feedback to give at all is… pretty far out). Given how little training OP received, I think it’s likely the manager also received minimal manager training if any, and as Alison says, just doesn’t have the tools to manage effectively. That situation can bring out the worst in people. I would almost bet money that the manager also doesn’t know how to effectively fire anybody, and is trying to get the OP to quit because it’s easier that way. Terrible, yes, but really common in my experience.

  24. Full-Time Fabulous*

    LW’s manager sounds like my former boss, who was as abusive and toxic as the day is long. Keep your head up, LW, and get yourself out of there. It is hard to shake off this kind of treatment and see yourself for who and what you really are, but please don’t let your manager’s treatment of you make you feel like you are not smart/talented. I hope you get out of this situation and into a job where you feel that you are a good fit, where you are supported and trained appropriately, and where you have a manager who actually acts like a decent person.

  25. Anon (and on and on)*

    Question – since the LW was the only woman on the manager’s team and she was being demonstrably treated worse than her male colleagues, wasn’t the manager opening herself and the company up to an EEOC complaint?

    1. NoiShin*

      Not necessarily. IANAL, but given that the LW admitted she had performance issues that led to the treatment…as bad as the treatment was, I don’t think there’s anything there for an EEOC complaint because the manager could “demonstrate” that any off-treatment was due to concerns over her performance.

    2. Well...*

      Yes, i wonder about her being the only woman and being excluded from social events… Definitely sexist, but does it rise to the level of being legally dicey?

  26. Minerva*

    So, the one thing I would take as a “you, not manager” possibility is that you are unlikely to get training on most of what you do in software development. You are likely to have to find tutorials or YouTube videos and documentation and figure it out, or ask your coworkers for help figuring it out.

    It sounds to me like you failed probation, and they didn’t do a good job handling that, or your manager was going through some kind of process and not necessarily handling it well. It doesn’t mean you are never going to succeed, but it is worth doing the uncomfortable work of analyzing where you could have done something different early on, or if there’s something about the work that had different expectations than your previous job. (For example, I do safety critical embedded stuff, we have a different expectation of working quickly vs carefully than if you work on a web game, and there’s a different expected skillset. Or did the title jump mean they expected you to start off running, and maybe you aren’t quite ready? )

    Good luck, I interview junior programmers all the time, and I promise you most of us interviewing you are hoping you do well.

    1. Adriane A (LW)*

      Thank you! I’m glad that it’s not an industry-wide thing, haha.

      I’d be inclined to agree with you on going away and doing my own research (and I definitely was sloppy to begin with; I’m not afraid about owning up to my own mistakes)—however when I went away and did my own research, I got chewed out for having done it wrong. When I then asked how instead I should do it, she’d tell me it was wrong, but “she’d know it when she saw it.”

      Which… I mean, I don’t really have the words for that.

      But I do agree that I wasn’t quite ready yet and probably need a more junior role for a while!

      I’m just so sad for a) being fired, but b) because I really hoped this could become a mentor/mentee relationship and it just hasn’t happened. :( But thank you again for the advice!

      1. Elenna*

        Wow. Wowwwwww.

        I’m not in software engineering, so I can’t comment on what’s a normal amount of training. But I can definitely say that simultaneously requiring you to figure things and then complaining when you try to figure it out and then not giving you any help in figuring it out is definitely Not Okay.

      2. Minerva*

        Really, when we have to turn someone down for a role, we’re more sad and disappointed than upset. That’s me and all my mostly male coworkers. And I struggled in early jobs, there’s a lot of experience that doesn’t come easily to most of us.

        I think you should consider finding more people (women especially) further on in their careers to get a better idea of what’s expected, and what kind of role you suit. And maybe don’t dismiss staying in entry level roles a little longer – as a senior dev, I am expected to help the new grad juniors a lot, but if someone a level up from there needed that kind of help, it would be an issue. If you were hired as my peer, there would be a lot more expectations that you would have figured out when to ask, when to stare at code, and so on.

        Learn a new programming language, code a little web app (I made a game of life when I was brushing up for an interview) , write a quote of the day generator for your phone. If any of that sounds fun, and doable, you will find something that suits you better.

      3. I Faught the Law*

        You know, while owning your mistakes is great, I really wonder if you did mess up or if she just set you up to fail. I wonder if, with time, you’ll see that the “mistakes” were the result of poor train, poor communication, etc. on management’s part. It seems like she has gaslighted you quite a bit.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “messing up” in a lot of these cases was just a case of the boss having her own preference on how things are done rather than there being a right or wrong way. The fact that she could not or would not articulate how/why it was wrong or how to do it right makes me think she expected OP to be a mind reader.

      4. Kevin Sours*

        Getting tossed in the deep end with no formal training and inadequate documentation is pretty normal. As a developer you are expected to be an independent problem solver. But… you shouldn’t be expected to do it completely on your own. Aggressively asking questions is a good trait in a junior dev (though be willing to view a “here are a couple of places to look go figure it out” as an answer).

        At the same time onboarding devs is a process and you have to give them some support (and accept that they are going to flail for a little while before they’ve got the project figured out). It’s hard to know what, if anything, was *you* here just because so much of it was *her*.

      5. LilyP*

        Oof! I was coming here to say something similar to Minerva about self-training but “that’s wrong but I can’t tell you how” is just startling lazy and awful! If you delegate something to a junior dev and they have to go off an take a stab in the dark with it, you can either accept the end product as “good enough for the pay grade” or tell them specifically what they missed — maybe it needs to be more robust, or use a consistent style, or be better documented or have unit tests or meet a specific other requirement — those are all things you can and must say with your words

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      That said, one week of training? For someone only in their second job out of college? That seems awfully low.

      As someone who does a lot of onboarding for our new developers, I generally expect at least two if not three weeks where my primary focus is going to be dealing with onboarding the new hire. And none of it is the HR parts – my manager does those. This is generally technical setup (software, system logins, etc.), then some code katas so I can get an idea of the new hire’s work style, then pair programming on some code cleanup on low priority/low risk tasks so they can get an idea of how our work is set up. Additionally, the new hire will have scheduled meetings to meet all the other teams in the office (we only have about 30 people total, so maybe 6 15-20 minute sessions), and one-on-one meetings with other team members to learn about various projects and systems that are specific to our company.

      (I’m also working on low-priority backlog items during this period. But these are all things with no deadline that I can set aside whenever I need to actively work with the new hire, which is often. What I’m not doing is leading or serving as SME on new projects.)

  27. Elbie*

    This sounds like my old a manger at my old job – pretty much word for word. (And let’s just say, my manager had a history of treating multiple people like crap, in very similar ways. I wonder how your boss treats other people. Is she generally well respected by others? Or does she have a “reputation)?

    Regardless, this is a crappy situation for you to be in and I am so sorry that you are in it. I have been there and it really messes with your mind because you do begin to wonder – “is this me or her?” It sounds like you have a decent handle on the situation which makes me think that it is more due to the manager. Do you have any trusted allies in management who could offer you a reference, if needed? I had worked closely with an ops manager during my time at my horrific job, and while she could not give me a reference as my specific manager, she was able to give a general reference as a manager in the department who was able to directly speak to my work ethics and abilities.

    I hope that you are able to find a new position that brings you joy and satisfaction SOON!!!!

  28. RB*

    “If I had to guess what’s going on, she’s decided you’re not suited for the job but she has no idea how to manage effectively and so instead of dealing with that in appropriate ways”
    I think there are a couple of other equally likely options: She has some personal dislike of you and is being extremely petty and unprofessional about it. Maybe you dress better than her. Maybe you have real potential and she’s threatened by that. Maybe she’s super clique-y and controlling and you don’t fit in with her “people.” Maybe she has bullying tendencies and you just happen to bring out the worst in her. But none of those things would be your fault.
    I don’t know that this is salvageable. Good luck.

  29. Colette*

    One concern with the OP’s situation:
    But on the other hand … I’ve had a week’s training. That’s it. When I asked for more, she told me there was none available. I’m being asked to pick up new tasks/software/skills but I feel like I’m given no support.

    In software development, you are often expected to pick skills up without formal training. You ask your colleagues, look online, and generally find a way to figure it out. Asking for training comes across as a little out of touch. There are, of course, some situations where formal training is appropriate, but those are rare.

    And the OP doesn’t mention that she has any sort of relationship with her coworkers. Relationships with your coworkers are critical, particularly in software development, so if she hasn’t built those, it’s an area to focus on in her next role.

    1. Minerva*

      I had a week training on QNX, and a few hours of lab training… That’s about it in my career. I did teach a C++ class for my colleagues but they were supposed to do half the work outside work hours

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I’ve had some formal training, but never when I started a job. IME, formal training tends to happen when the team is making a change to a new language/technology.

    2. Observer*

      This is true. If this were the whole of the letter. But, the rest of the context means that it probably pays to look a bit more closely at what’s happening here. Because the boss is clearly asking the OP to read her mind. Like telling her to “be more open” but rolling her eyes when asked what that’s supposed to look like.

      As it happens, the OP expanded a bit on this a bit in further comments, and it turns out that even here it’s the manager’s problem. When the OP was told that she’s doing something wrong, the OP asked what the correct way is. Instead of either telling her or pointing her to resources that would explain what the OP should be doing the boss said “I’ll know it when I see it.” That’s just not tenable.

      1. Minerva*

        Eh, “This design doesn’t work because x, y, z” kind of critiques don’t have an obvious “right way”.

        I think it’s likely they hired her as a senior, because they couldn’t attract more experienced candidates or because they don’t know how to hire, and didn’t know what to do with a less experienced programmer. The expectations seemed normal to me… For a 8+ year experienced programmer who’s slowly developed these skills. Then they bumbled.

        1. Observer*

          “This design doesn’t work because x, y, z” kind of critiques don’t have an obvious “right way”

          But this comment includes the X, Y, and Z part, so the OP has something to go on. That’s very different from “I’ll know it when I see it”.

          The expectations seemed normal to me… For a 8+ year experienced programmer

          And that’s the key. It’s just totally unreasonable to dump on the OP for not being what the employers wanted. I understand deciding that the job wasn’t a fit. But the behavior till then was just inexcusable.

      2. Colette*

        I mean, the boss is out of line.

        But it’s possible the OP needs to take more initiative with respect to finding out information, and that she needs to ask her coworkers the more technical questions rather than her manager.

        Both can be true. And I wouldn’t want the OP to go into a new job expecting more than a week of formal training.

        1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

          That’s good advice but the boss still handled it badly. I’ve had employees like that, and I’ve TOLD them they need to figure things out for themselves by looking at A, B, and C things. I don’t expect people early in their careers to know that.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I wouldn’t expect any new hire to get training like “How to write Python”, sure. But code standards and workflows vary from company to company (and sometimes even within the same company), and there are always quirks to the system and business rules that you can’t “just know”. Best case scenario, someone knows what you need to be shown and either shows you or points you to internal documentation. Second best, you can figure out you don’t know something and you ask about it and get an answer. Otherwise, you’re left not knowing what you don’t know, and it sounds like that was happening here.

      1. Colette*

        Sure, but I wouldn’t expect that to come from the manager. Sometimes it does, but often that comes from the other developers. Which is why those relationships are important.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          Yeah, but when you’re brand new, you don’t know who to go to with those questions. The manager can and should be facilitating this in some way. (At my company, it’s a combination of scheduling 1-1 meetings between the new hire and other team members, as well as having a designated senior dev (usually me) be available to answer general questions.)

        2. Kevin Sours*

          At the very least *would* absolutely expect a manager of a struggling junior dev to find resources to help them along. Part of your job is to help them develop those relationships and make sure they know where to go to get help. Along with providing clarity on what things they are expected to figure out verses what they should be directly asking about.

          It’s really hard to tell to what extend OP might need to adjust because her manager was so terrible and provided so little support that it overwhelms any issues she might have had.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Exactly. I’ve been doing sysadmin for over 20 years, and every company has their own stack. Sometimes it’s only little things that are different, sometimes it big stuff. At my level, it takes about a month to get a solid grip on what and where everything is, and I have to ask a lot of questions and read a lot of docs to do it. A junior I would expect to take three to six months to really grok a stack/environment.

    4. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      I work in a software-adjacent non-development role and, while the developers usually don’t have formal training regimens, they can and do point noobs in the direction of the resources that they themselves use for self-training and provide support and feedback. It sounds like the OP’s manager is not even doing that.

    5. K*

      I’ve been in tech for years and still think this manager is out of line.

      That said, yes, I have found some people expect more handholding in onboarding than is reasonable for such roles. Working through it yourself with documentation and pinging other developers (not the manager) for help is the expectation. And help should be pointers to things you can’t find in docs, or help installing stuff after you followed instructions, rather than training per se. I had a teammate who expected us to spend hours at a time on Zoom with him while he debugged, which was exhausting. He repeatedly said he did not like googling or searching for error messages on Slack… which is kind of what our job involves. Anyway, that’s a tangential rant because I don’t think that’s the issue with LW and her manager.

      1. Colette*

        Oh yeah, I agre the manager is out of line. But the OP can also have expectations that are out of sync with the industry, and those she can adjust.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        He repeatedly said he did not like googling or searching for error messages on Slack… which is kind of what our job involves.

        Head|desk. So, when I troubleshoot, literally one of the first things I do is paste the error message into google to see if someone else has solved the same problem before. It’s called “not reinventing the wheel”. Yes, I have other tools, right down to stack traces and debuggers, but at least 50% is there in google with the right search terms.

  30. SomebodyElse*

    Weird… I didn’t know my old manager had a sister.

    OP, we’ve all had these bosses at one time or another (or will have at some point). The biggest lesson to take away from this is that some bosses suck and you can only change your mindset or your job- Nothing else will fix this.

    Mine was :
    ~a Micromanager -would talk with me if one of my staff was 2 minutes late
    ~Couldn’t make a decision to save his life -as in when forced to he would be visibly agitated)
    ~He was a gas lighter – classic symptoms as saying X then 3 days later asking what are doing X for I said do Y
    ~Generally incompetent -handed me a dodgy process and then would argue with me every month that I did it incorrectly, when he just didn’t understand the crappy and bordering unethical process
    ~Weird- would say the oddest things very similar to the OP’s example “I don’t have anything good to say”

    He was actually a caricature of bad boss attributes. Even worse, he was the top person in our location, so no other support or means of escaping him.

    In my case I had moved my family for this job, my spouse was out of work while getting recertified so I was the only breadwinner. So I had to make it work. I did start looking for other jobs, but while there I just decided to brace myself and get through it*

    Here’s how I got through it. I accepted that he was terrible. I accepted that he would gas light me (I kept good enough notes so that I would know when he did it). I randomly would turn things around on him. Every once in awhile I would bring that dodgy process to him and ask for help. He’d get so lost and flustered that he’d be easier on me for the next few months just in case I asked him for help again. I’d agree with him on the stupid things he’d bring to me (employee being 2 min late). And randomly I’d push back on the ridiculousness (This usually gained me a week or two of him sulking and giving me the silent treatment). I did outlast him when he was promoted. It didn’t take long for others to see the incompetence and he was let go before too long.

    I’m not saying all of these things will work with a bad boss, and some are definitely risky, but it kept my perspective in check and got me through that particular dark chapter. Just know that there a more good to neutral bosses out there than bad ones.

    Good luck and hoping you find one of the good ones!

    *I was never in a position to lose my job, and weirdly was given good performance appraisals

  31. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji*

    I was about to send in a question very similar to this, Alison’s answer is very comforting.

  32. Veryanon*

    This is the textbook example of a manager who doesn’t want to deal with an employee who isn’t performing where they need them to, and has just decided to be so terrible that the employee will leave and thereby solve the problem. The OP admits that this job isn’t a great fit for them, but it sounds as though they are at least trying to make it work. Any decent manager would try to meet them halfway.

  33. WonderWoman*

    I was in a similar situation in the past, and I can assure you that your manager is a terrible manager and human being.

    I was the least experienced person on my team, and I’d made a number of mistakes over the years. When my manager was hired, she wanted to let me go, but the other higher ups chose to keep me. Because she couldn’t fire me, my manager was so horrible to me that I eventually quit without a job lined up. She was very similar to your manager. She would berate me, demand I improve without giving me any concrete feedback, and assume the worst of me at every turn.

    The silver lining was that, despite my weaknesses in that role, I received a ton of support from my colleagues because my manager was so openly hostile to me. After I left, she openly bragged about pushing me out (!!!)

    I found another job where I’m treated with decency. I’m not perfect, but my manager gives me feedback in a calm and kind manner on a regular basis, and it’s enabled me to thrive.

    You don’t deserve this treatment, no matter what mistakes you may have made.

  34. Retired (but not really)*

    Best wishes on your interview Friday! Sounds to me like if this new possibility is a good one you will be given the opportunity to prove to yourself that you can shine in right spot. Hoping sincerely that the interview is positive in all the best ways.

  35. violetfizzes*

    “I was screen-sharing something with her the other day and she said she didn’t like me using dark mode and insisted I turn my settings back to light mode.”

    What an absolute weirdo. God, crazy people are the worst.

  36. J*

    I suspect your boss* is even worse than you think she is, because you think her treatment is partly or fully your fault, and it is almost certainly not. Even aside from all the solid examples in your letter, I suspect she’s been gaslighting you hard to undermine your belief in your professional abilities. The way you talk about yourself in relation to this job is very different from the picture you paint of someone confident enough to walk away from that reshuffled job, be secure in your historical performance from your first job, and do the things you’re doing now to find a new job.

    *I saw that she’s now your ex-boss, and I’m happy for you! You don’t deserve to have to deal with her crap.

    1. not a doctor*

      Agreed! I was going to write almost the same comment. OP, were you really wrong for the job, or was that what you got from her? And just how bad were those sloppy mistakes, *really*?

  37. Scooter*

    Telling a new person who’s asking for additional training there’s none available is lazy management. Find out what specific areas they need help or determine it from their performance and block time on a regular basis to work with them. Then give them opportunities to develop that skill and constructive feedback until they have mastered it. If it’s a not a skill the manager has, find someone who does or find another resource for them. Telling them they can’t have additional training is setting them up to fail.

  38. sofar*

    And for the record: New people make sloppy mistakes! All of them do, every single one. What YOU did, LW, was express the desire to improve and do better. And that makes you a gem of an employee. I’m not about to crown myself “world’s best manager,” but I expect new hires to mess up (and make sure they’re supported and guided enough so that they can make those mistakes early — and learn from them).

    I’m sorry your manager just isn’t cut out to manage people. It’s NOT your fault.

    1. SansaStark*

      This is such a good point. If a new hire isn’t making some mistakes, I’m worried they’re not getting any work done. Especially with complicated or time-intensive tasks that may not have much training associated with them.

    2. Ozzie*

      Yes this so much!!! It’s why you have people check the work of a new hire. Let them do the task and learn, but expect them to make mistakes – and have systems in place to catch them, and guide them to doing better in the future. Leaving a new hire to sink or swim while tying a weight to their feet, then scolding them for not being able to swim as you begrudgingly fish them out, is entirely irresponsible. (wow I’m so sorry for that extremely belabored metaphor)

  39. Crazy Cat Lady*

    I had a similar situation many years ago. Got offered a job in the same field I had been in for years. But this company’s (it was a newer company) process was very different from what I had experienced. They didn’t know how to train me, and when I made mistakes, I got thrown under the bus. I finally was “fired/laid off”, which was fine because it allowed me to collect unemployment. But it messed with my self-esteem.

    Fast forward thirteen years, I was talking to a friend who is in the same line of work. She was talking about a company who didn’t train her, then let her go for similar reasons. Turns out it was the exact same company. There are alot of bad managers out there, don’t let them get you down.

  40. Suzy Q*

    When you do move on from this job, and finally get away from this awful manager, I can almost guarantee that you will feel a huge weight lifted. Toxic work environments do things to you that you can’t always see when you’re entrenched. Best of luck!

  41. SansaStark*

    I see my former manager has moved to a different industry and is now torturing other people. OP, I am so very sorry that you’re dealing with this. Get out as quickly as you can and do whatever you need to do to protect your mental health. I know how this nonsense can really get in and warp your sense of competence in every aspect of your life. Alison’s absolutely right that no mistake is worth this level of punishment. YOU are not the cause of this treatment. Good luck on finding something quickly!

  42. Freelance Anything*

    Is there an option where you ask for help/training more laterally?

    Not to say you shouldn’t be actively job searching, but it may make the time pass more easily for you and you might come away with a few more skills to take over to new job.

    If there’s a specific software or task you’re struggling with, is there someone who is doing it/has done it who might be able to point you at some resources?

  43. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

    I know exactly what is going on here:

    “I work in software development, and she and I are the only two women.”

    This is textbook internalized misogyny. I know it because I’ve dealt with it with a manager in the past. LW’s manager probably didn’t want to hire LW in the first place. I see in an above comment that LW says she was let go, and that is for the best. It might not seem like it now, but I still have trauma from the 2 years I spent with my own misogynist woman boss.

    This is such a big problem in the tech sphere that I’ve seen MANY discussions about it on LinkedIn and in networking groups. The fact is that women are mistreated in the tech industry, and to succeed, they often need to cater to the whims and desires of the maladjusted men who are in charge of them. Then, once these women are in a position of power, the look down on women the same way the men above them did. It’s vicious. If anyone reading this is in this situation, run away.

  44. Mimi*

    This sounds like my last boss, a few years ago. Although she had one (1) positive thing to say about me: that I always carried a pencil on me. That was it.
    I was there six months and the last day (without another job lined up) was near the happiest day of my life. You can do it, OP, you can get a better job and a better boss.

  45. Mangled metaphor*

    Maybe I’m picking up on the wrong thing, but the use of centimetres (feeling about 3 cm tall) makes me think you’re not in the US? If I’m off base, ignore the next bit and skip to the end.
    But if it is the case, look into your country’s employee protections regarding constructive dismissal. It might be not applicable because you’re in your probation period, but it really does feel like she doesn’t want the hassle of firing you and prefers to make you do the hard work of quitting first.

    How close to the end of your probation are you? It’s odd that you are doing such a bad job (in her eyes) but she hasn’t chosen to end your probation early.

    Good luck. Sorry you’ve been saddled with a witch (with a capital B) so early in your career.

  46. Cohen*

    I think that the job may not be the best fit for you. Though that is fine. All that you can do is try your best and look for other jobs. There are horrid individuals in the workplace and it is unfortunate that this horrid person is your manager.

    I am sure that in the near future at a new job; you will just look back and laugh at how pathetic some people are.

  47. Ozzie*

    Ahh this is terrible. I’ve had a boss like this before, and she made me feel like I was absolutely atrocious at my job. It’s a self-esteem hit that I never really recovered from, and ended up leaving the industry entirely not too long after I was done with that contract. (not just for her treatment of me, but the self-esteem hit made it harder to sell myself after, etc) It has taken me a very long time to rebuild it outside of that industry, though I still greatly struggle to work closely with managers who don’t know how to manage, and generally try to work primarily independently as a result.

    Please take Alison’s answer to heart (and so many of the commentariat, I am sure!). This is absolutely about her. You do not deserve to be treated this way. No mistake deserves this.

    While you look for your way out, see if there is anyone in the company who can help you obtain new skills of any variety, just so the time doesn’t feel lost. Even if it’s as simple as learning a new aspect of Excel or something. Something you can take with you elsewhere.

    And for the record, anyone who says 1 week’s training is all the training there is gave up before you even got going, and set you up to fail. That is absolutely the work of a bad manager.

  48. IEanon*

    I had a supervisor like this. I remember sobbing to my husband (in the midst of pandemic lockdown) that she made me feel small, and worthless and incompetent, even though I knew that before she had arrived, I was very good at my job. It was miserable, and I was honestly grateful to be stuck at home because it kept me away from her and let me do my job better.

    All this to say that I’m rounding the corner on one year at my new job, with the best supervisor I’ve had up to this point. As hopeless as it feels while you’re in it, once you’re out, it’s a huge relief. Try not to take what she’s saying to heart. You will move on from this.

  49. Dasein9*

    A Daydream on Your Behalf, LW

    In a number of years, you are secure in your position and have social/professional capital to spare.
    You find yourself in a position to give feedback on another dev’s work.
    You discover it is this boss.
    You take a moment to savor the fact that you could easily say, “I have no positive feedback to give.”
    (I imagine you don’t do it because you are a better person than that. But you could.)

  50. JelloStapler*

    Yikes. No, it’s not you. She sounds like the worst combination of hands-off yet micromanaging and expects you to have ESPN. Also if she wants you to be more open, she is not fostering a climate where you actually can without being ignored or criticized.

  51. Khatul Madame*

    I am saddened by how many commenters have been in eerily similar situations, and doubly saddened that so many of these were perpetrated by women against their female employees. I have been there too.
    LW, be happy that you are out of there, and choose your next employer wisely. You said that you and Bad Manager were the only women there, so look for places with more diversity.

    1. Justin*

      I wonder if there’s a “don’t mess this up for me” thing that happens. I’m not a woman, but the boss I had who messed with my confidence were Black and I’m Black too, so being part of a minoritized group, I wonder if this is something. I should look into the research though I doubt many would speak to researchers about it.

      1. Well...*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some research about it. I know a lot of implicit bias studies often find that women will show about the same level of bias as men individually, despite the fact that the presence of women in visible roles will ameliorate overall sexist bias.

        Anecdotally, I’ve found woman-on-woman sexism to feel so much worse. Maybe it actually is worse. Where men are more likely to dismiss or ignore me, women seem to be more likely to actively throw me under the bus or call attention to my shortcomings.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This was a really good letter to publish because I think it comes up often enough, especially with people starting out in the work world.

      I saw less and less of this as the decades rolled by but it still remains familiar to me.

      OP, it’s no one thing, it’s that there’s a list of things that she did. My guess is that you got some stuff right because she had to line up a number of things to derail you. In other words any one of her complaints was not strong enough to stand on its own.

      You were set up to fail. I dunno what twisted thinking drives a person to think this is a good goal but some bosses do this. IF there ever is another time you see this, you know what it is, you know no matter how hard you try you will never succeed and you know to just remove yourself from the situation.

      I worked at one toxic place for probably about six weeks. The boss would come out and scream at me- “keep busy!” (I was already busy.) I did one particular task that she had not delegated to me, figuring the task was a community task and who ever got to it first was fine. She made me UNDO my work. With that, I KNEW. I just knew. The next day of work, I went in and quit on the spot. I could not help but notice on the employee rooster I had moved from employee #113 to #94. That meant the place had burned through 19 people in six weeks. There’s more to this story but the screaming and the undoing of work, stand out in my mind.

      It was amazing because the person I spoke to simply said, “I do understand.” This rotten boss became a sort of benchmark to me to help me figure out subsequent bosses quicker and be accurate in identifying what the actual problems were.

      When you see a boss with these behaviors that you list here, you now know- just get out. Even if you win, the boss will not let you have that win. This is not normal behavior, it’s some twisted head game that you do not need in your life.
      I wish you the best on your job search and at your new place. I hope you send Alison a follow up so we can hear how you are doing.

      1. This is a name, I guess*

        My instinct is that the company hired OP in too senior of a role because they have limited candidates. That happens, but the OP’s treatment is unsuccessful. Either they should have re-configured her position as more junior OR they should have let her go, WITHOUT THE MISTREATMENT. This is not OP’s mistake. Young people aren’t usually savvy enough to navigate these nuances in hiring. This is stuff you learn after years of working.

  52. raida7*

    sounds like your manager is a bully.
    Not to everyone, but to you she is repeatedly doing things to exclude you, talk down to you, blocking training, refusing support…

    I’d (being an arrogant kind of person) put all this into bullet points, take them to my next catch up with her, and say that all the highlighted bullets are forms of bullying according to the code of conduct/staff handbook/hr policies, so what are the next steps?
    Just, completely lay it out for her that *I* know it’s unacceptable and unprofessional and opens the business up to legal issues, now *she* knows that I’m aware of that she can take responsibility for how this plays out, because I can keep documenting things while also calling her out on them and not taking that treatment anymore. Yes, that’s a bloody threat and you just watch me walk out of your office and into your manager’s, mate.

  53. Bunny*

    Alison, I wrote to you almost a decade ago with a similar issue. I was in far more distress. You answered privately and similarly. Wonderful advice. I thanked you then, and I thank you again.

  54. Lacey*

    I had a boss like this. It looks like a lot of people have!

    It really destroyed my confidence even though I’d been working in my field for more than 10 years.
    I know it’s easy to say, “don’t let this kill your confidence” but I also know there’s that little voice that says, “But what if that’s not true for me? What if I shouldn’t be confident?” That’s how I felt.

    But at my next/current job I am valued for my contributions. Not that I never get things wrong, but I’m excelling at a job my previous boss (& HR for some reason) felt the need to tell me I had no skill in. There’s every reason to believe that with a decent boss you will excel as well.

  55. Justin*

    My previous boss made me feel this way. I also made some mistakes but they seemed to take it as a great personal offense and, like you, never offer support. Thankfully she is not my boss anymore. A lot of folks get a little power and use it to air their grievances. Sorry you’re going through it.

  56. Bookworm*

    It’s not you. Maybe you’re relatively inexperienced professionally, maybe you’ve made mistakes, but it’s your manager’s responsibility for recognizing this and giving you training that you’re asking for (and good for you).

    I’ve been in similar (not in software). I’m sorry you’re going through this and wishing you good luck!!

  57. AnonInCanada*

    WHAT in bloody hell is wrong with this manager? You asked for more training and guidance when handed new tasks (which I’ll presume you have no training on) and she snarls at you?

    Make sure when you send your letter of resignation to her when you get that new job, it’s in dark mode. Screen shot it, just so she can get the hint.

  58. Not So Super-visor*

    Did anyone else get “Fold in the cheese” vibes from how this manager is handling this?

  59. Feeling This*

    I just wanted to say that I have been in this situation a couple of times and it’s horrible, so I really feel for you. Like you I made a couple of slip ups early on, and they were used against me and at the time I felt really useless. Because I was young, I thought this was what work was like. Now I know it isn’t, and mistakes don’t give your boss carte blanche to bully you, which is effectively what’s happening here. I would love to be able to say that reporting her behaviour will work because she should get her comeuppance, but that seems to be pretty rare. So if a better offer comes along, grab it and get the hell out of there. All the best to you.

  60. Nina*

    In all honesty, what really stuck with me is the fact that you are the only two women. In my experience, women that have to “make it” in a very male-dominated field often end up putting down the other women. I am in academia and see this daily.

  61. Katie*

    Oh man I could have written this letter at least 3 times in the past 10 years. Allison is spot on. This is NOT about you! Hang in there OP. I know how discouraging it can be.

  62. ResuMAYDAY*

    OP, I’m sorry to say that having to cc her on every email means she’s (rightly or wrongly) in damage control mode to the nth degree. Kick your search into high gear. You’re still in the window of not needing to put this job on your resume, but that window is closing. It won’t be long before the gap must be accounted for. I know this feels so horrible right now, but you’re going to feel so much better when this job is behind you, I promise!

  63. Safely Retired*

    The part that jumped out at me was that you are the only two women, and that the boss is sociable with everyone else, which is to say with all the men. There are women who simply can not deal with other women, and it sounds like you have found one. I won’t pretend to understand how that came to be, but it is quite possible the boss has some deeply hidden scars that contributed to it. I would not hold out any hope at this point… find that new job.

  64. Midwest Teacher*

    I love this answer, Alison!
    OP, when you do quit, please print out this letter and leave it on your manager’s desk on your last day.

  65. Anita Brayke*

    Exactly. And my other favorite phrase from this type of person “I have no filter!” Seriously? And you’re operating in the real world with the big kids? Toddlers have no filter.

  66. Been there, done that…*

    LW – I just want to add where you said you made some “sloppy mistakes” early on – was it really your fault or did you just not have the experience? In my first job out of college my boss would put me in situations where I had to do tasks (“special projects”) that I wasn’t qualified to do and that should have been done by a more senior person (my position was entry level). When I inevitably made a mistake he would lecture me for days about how if you make a mistake once nobody will ever be able to trust or rely on your work again. One time he was on vacation and didn’t complete an important task for the board of directors that was due before he left. The CEO asked for my help and gave me step by step instructions on what to do. It turned out the CEO’s instructions were wrong. The CEO wasn’t mad because there was no way I could have known but my boss called me into his office every day for two weeks and lectured me. I stayed in that job far too long and even now with my current boss, who is nothing like my old one, in the few instances where I make a mistake I panic and freak out that he will never trust me again. Even though you were let go I think you’ll be better off in the long run not being in an environment like that. Try to put it behind you. I hope you find a new job soon and have a more positive experience!

  67. Not your typical admin*

    What a horrible boss! Part of being a manager is helping people who are struggling and making sure they have the tools they need to succeed. No one comes into a job able to perform every task they’re given perfectly all the time. Mistakes are not a problem. Refusing to correct and learn from them is.

  68. Sarah*

    She demanded you switch to light mode? Oh hell no. That’s a hostile working environment.

  69. MunicipalWorker*

    LW, you sound like a lovely person and it sucks this boss put you through this. Congrats on getting let go, I’m sure it stings but really sounds like it’s for the best. I wanted to suggest considering looking at government jobs. IT is in high demand and at least at my City agency, the IT dept is able to pay higher than other parts of the agency to be somewhat competitive. My sister also works in IT at a quasi governmental agency (utility company) and has great benefits. The work environment would be much less cutthroat and more structured than what it sounds like you had. There is also often a lot of job security and opportunity to advance. No idea if your field /interests align but just wanted to give a plug for the public sector :)

  70. Inge*

    I was treated similarly by a manager in a niche field. I did later find out she was jealous and nervous I would be competition. We have both since left this organization.

  71. anonymous73*

    It sounds like she’s just trying to make it seem to the company that she tried to help you improve within the 6 month timeframe so she can say she tried if they fire you, yet isn’t actually doing anything. If you think you can trust HR, I would consider going to them to report her behavior. Not to necessarily fight to stay in the role (if it’s not a good fit, it’s probably not worth it), but so they’re aware of how she’s treating you. Because as Alison said, NOBODY should be treated that way, no matter how badly you mess up. I had a job in the early 00s and had a great boss. I messed up one day and he was very stressed because we had just launched a new system. When he came to me and spoke to me about how I had messed up, he made me feel like dirt on the bottom of his shoe. And another colleague was standing there too. I lost any respect I had for him right then and there and still regret to this day not standing up for myself.

  72. Gabrielle*

    Oh wow OP, I’m so sorry. I had a boss that did very similar things to me overall, though with different ways of being extra cruel. It’s taken me so long at a new job to get over that. I thought I had after six months, but a year later I got my first really positive evaluation and only started to gain real confidence after that.

    I have two pieces of advice: one, if you get a new job, avoid letting your boss know where you’re going if possible. It’s probably fine, but when someone is this bad they may not have reasonable limits.

    Two, if you feel hopeless and trapped, it might be better to quit without a job lined up than it would to let your boss keep abusing you. If she’s making you feel like you don’t deserve *any* job, I mean, so that you are struggling to apply: get out, find a therapist and get out!

  73. Tech Mgr*

    Women engineering manager of women engineers here. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with such a toxic boss! Know that your skills are in such demand and honestly… Plenty of women have dealt with toxic managers. Toxicity knows no gender. You deserve a healthy work environment. You deserve respect. You deserve a job where your skills are valued and you’re supported in your growth. Women deserve better in tech specifically, but everyone deserves this in general. I will fight literally anyone over this. if you need me to yell at your boss just lmk. I’ve got infinite depths for this battle

  74. Violet*

    I always hope there are no crappy managers reading this blog.

    But I would say to a manager to question yourself once you’ve decided an employee isn’t a good fit for the role. I was in this position and I knew it. A person knows they’ve made mistakes. But it’s a feeling that the manager has given up on you. And that’s a hard one to shake.

    My manager really tried with me. But it was really like my whole performance was being evaluated by one person. They weren’t out to get me, but they didn’t have the skill to help me be really trained for that role. They kept trying the same exact things. To be fair, they wanted the job done in a very specific way.

    But managers, maybe it’s you? What if you can’t help this person and have already in your heart decided that. What if you’re wrong? And even if you’re right (the OP here agrees that they aren’t the best fit), still be kind. My manager was kind. Well, in their way. But still I felt they made their mind up three weeks in.

  75. George Clooney*

    I’ve had this manager. I ended up staying on until they terminated my employment just before the end of the (long) probation period because the company had paid to move me and I’d signed a document agreeing to pay them back if I left within a couple of years. I was a stressball for the last four or so months of the job and in the weeks after it ended, I would catch myself remembering that I’d lost that job and feel briefly happy.

    And yeah, this manager was a huge attack on my self-esteem, but I realized afterward that I’d done much more challenging work with much smarter people than them–people who I respected–and those folks liked my work, so it wasn’t me that was the problem.

  76. Nom*

    I’ve had a horrible micromanager like this before. I would think carefully about the idea that you’re not suited for this job – you may very well be great at it with the right support. She’s making you feel horrible because she is horrible, and that’s not a reflection on YOUR work.

  77. Been There*

    Four years ago, I feel I could have written this and doubted everything I did and had ever done because of my manager’s treatment of me.

    Co-workers and family told me that it was her and not me, and I didn’t believe them until I got a great job with a great manager who values my contributions and lets me know it.

    It really was her.

  78. Excel-sior*

    About 6 years ago, I started a new job in a role which was different to what I’d been doing before. It became clear very early on that the jobs and my skillset weren’t a match, and that my line manager expected more of me, much quicker than i had been led to believe would be the case. I tried, but was floundering a little, not helped because i tried to figure it out myself rather than asking for advice. After a month, had a meeting with my manager and he (rightly) pointed this out. I acknowledged it and made a point to ask more questions.

    Here’s the kicker; once i stared asking him questions, almost every single time the answer was “well, that really only comes with experience”!! Whats the best way to do A? How should I calculate B? Do you have any advice on roughly what the result of C should be?

    “You only learn from experience”. I was tearing my hair out after another week, after another i mentally checked out & decided to start looking elsewhere and 3 months after starting I had found something else.

    It was a bad fit, and I learned a lot about what to ask (and when) during interviews and about what it was i wanted to do professionally. And he was a terrible manager in other ways, but this still rankles me to this day.

  79. Marita*

    Fab read. My boss is a jerk also. She is a credit manager and treats me differently to the other team members. Thankfully she is leaving in 2 weeks and i couldnt be more thankful she resigned. Yippee

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