Five of the newest engineers at XYZ Engineering were assigned to a design team that was
to work on software design for one of the company’s largest clients. They had never
previously worked together, and had only met briefly during a recent social event.
The first meeting began with an introduction from the general manager and continued
with a general discussion of the project and the distribution of the work within the group.
All team members agreed that the work would be distributed equally so that no one was
overly burdened and that all could contribute equally to the project.
While distributing work, it was suggested that some of the more difficult technical work
could be done my Nick or Jack, while the programming could be handled by Lee. Jane
was to look after the drawing and sketches, while Sarah focused on the documentation
collection and report writing.
In the second meeting, Jane asked if she could assist with more of the technical work
since the drawings were not going to take long to complete. Nick snickered and rolled his
eyes. Noticing this, Lee quickly told Nick to stop, then turned to Jane and explained that
the technical work was quite difficult and required a great deal of experience.
After another meeting, Jane overheard Lee discussing the possibility of giving some of
the programming to Jane or Sarah. Jane indicated that she probably had more time than
Sarah who was married and had a child. Lee agreed and gave some programming to Jane.
Sarah noticed the reassignment of duties, but did not say anything.
Nick, who liked to be the center of attention, told a joke or two at every meeting. He
would often preface his jokes by stating, “This is probably a sexist (or racist) joke, and I
probably shouldn’t be telling it, but….”. He would go on and tell a joke which would
During these early stages, the general manager observed the team. He noted that many of
the discussions in the group became non-technical and could almost be described as
bickering. The five employees did not appear to be acting together as a team and already
their overall progress was slow. Since they were some of the brightest young employees
in the firm, the manager was disappointed. He had expected more from them.
Consider the following questions:
Was there any evidence of discrimination in the group?
Identify the possible stereotypes that were acted upon.
Was there any behavior that could be considered harassment?
Why do you think the group did so poorly (name contributing factors) and
what could be done differently to avoid the problems faced by this design
For the purposes of the written assignment, assume that your discussion group has been
asked by the manager to review the activity of the design team. Write a two-page
memorandum to the manager (Professor N.Thomson) describing the situation. Take into
account your answers to the above questions. Make reference to the following in you
response: stereotypes, discrimination, harassment, and the ‘poisonous’ effect they had on
Friday Decmeber 3, 1999 @ 4:00pm