Here’s some excerpts from online reviews of Sandia Natl Labs. In case you’re wondering, I did not write any of these. These come from The italics are my comments and the bold, well, it’s just sad, sad, sad.

  • Thank you for planting a tree…
For several years Sandia was my dream job in engineering. I noticed a sharp decline in the management practices regarding women starting in 2010. I saw a widely respected female executive groomed for a high profile promotion, and then passed over. I saw similar anecdotes ripple down at every level. I was alarmed and reacted by participating in an internal diversity initiative that was moderated by external consultants over a period of two years. I wanted to know if there was a systemic problem in developing and retaining female technical staff, and if there was a problem I wanted to help fix it. Managers absolutely refused to share hiring, promotion, or retention data by gender or race to the diversity group. We were allowed to produce monthly diversity posters for display and attach a link to information on unconscious bias in an internal work email publication. At the end of the two year initiative, we planted a diversity tree. … Several of my colleagues were too frightened to honestly fill out the anonymous employee satisfaction surveys for fear of being identified and retaliated against by management, and many left Sandia. After years of effort and optimism, I also decided that management was not meeting my professional needs. A few employees recently filed a class action lawsuit claiming gender bias in performance review, pay, and promotion. I hope that the lawsuit succeeds in shining light on the management practices of the last several years.
We shed some light on it. I don’t know if our attorneys ever shared with Sandia the really high number of women who contacted them about gender-based mistreatment at Sandia. My jaw dropped when they told me the number. The problem is real.
  • Thank you, HR, for lactation rooms. How about fair treatment for all women? BTW, you forgot to instruct male staff not to make off-color remarks about those rooms and peeking in. Just a little tip for your next diversity training.
There still are remnants of the old boy’s club culture-wise and the technical staff is quite male heavy as one would expect from an engineering Lab. The Sandia Women’s Action Network strives to change the culture while HR continues to expand lactation rooms and other policy-level changes.
  • How do you succeed in this kind of environment? Answer: you can’t. If you are one of the very few women who got ahead, it had a lot to do with luck and where you got that first assignment at Sandia Labs.
There are large performance evaluation differences for women than men. Women are judged on their personalities for that year as subjectively reported by their mostly male peers. A woman may be reported as “too quiet” one year and then the same woman as “too loud” the next year, based on these opinions depending on who you are working with. It was odd to get any commentary on actual work produced during a performance evaluation. Many women reported the same issues. Men are evaluated based on their accomplishments and work output, according to many men. Also, there is no maternity leave, only the federal minimum of 6 weeks unpaid for FMLA. There is very limited support for lactation rooms. There is a decent amount of sexism they can be found in speech and behaviors. Men in teams often group together, go to lunch together, socialize together, so if you are a woman on that team, you are in outsider. 
  • Practice what you preach! Can I get an “AMEN”???
Old boys’ club, but at least they’re forced to keep their mouths shut. Lots of meaningless training about equality in the workplace, but they don’t practice what they preach. Workplace violence, harassment free workplace, etc training, but when incidents occur, the heavily male management sweeps it under the rug. 
  • Change is possible if Sandia Labs wants to change. Got to move past the lactation rooms and on to fair treatment for ALL women and ALL employees.
Sandia has subtle issues that are so imbedded in it’s fraternal structure, change is impossible.
  • Again, change is possible. Wake up Sandia!
Management is rather stuck on an outdated model of performance, and a very male model to for interpersonal relationships. They are trying too get unstuck, but it us a very slow process. In the meantime, bye good assignments will go to your male counterparts… More than once in my career, they have had to make across the board increase for women to fix the biases of there first level of management. This is way insufficient to create parity with the men.

3 Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *