The value of technical writers

Subject: The value of technical writers
From: RCURRIER <Rcurrier -at- RAINBOW -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 11:28:28 -0800

I was flabbergasted by a comment by my boss the other day that left me
speechless (an unusual condition). In a manager's meeting we were discussing
how to rank all of Engineering's employees for yearly performance reviews,
and she said something like: "It's difficult to rank technical writers along
with Engineers, because people who go into tech writing and QA are usually
people who tried to be Engineers and failed. Also, Engineers can keep
learning and advancing in their field, but technical writers have no where
to go or new things to learn." This revealed such a horrific
misunderstanding of the value of technical writers, that I feel I'm
teetering on the edge of an abyss. All I could come up with at the time, was
to splutter "You are completely wrong, and we need to have a long talk about
this soon." After 20 years of being a technical writer and manager, I find
that I am continually challenged to learn new technologies and that this job
is still fun and exciting. In no way do I feel like a "failed Engineer!"
What in the world do I say to this dyed-in-the-wool Engineer who holds my
fate and salary in her hands to convince her that technical writers have
different skills than Engineers and should be valued differently?

Robin Currier
Technical Documentation Manager
Irvine, CA
rcurrier -at- rainbow -dot- com

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