We all know that colleague who cranks out work from 9 to 9. He's known by many names, among them ninja and rockstar. Managers unabashedly herald him in public. He likes to keep to himself and eat at the desk. He chatters only professionally and during code reviews. Everyone thinks he's a genius.
Then there is you. You're responsible. You deliver within a reasonable timeframe. You hustle and stay over late at times when the need arises. However, you value your personal time, freedom in letting your creativity runs loose with side projects, and work-life balance just as much. You know the value of getting sustainable rest to fight another day. You want to spend more time with family and friends because you know they are what drive you to push forward.
For-profit companies are incentivized to acquire employees who work as much as possible while spending as little as possible. It's easy to herald a certain stereotype as a rockstar.
At times, you feel that you do not fit into the culture that calls people by brogrammer titles while using unclear messages to undermine some others' value. The undertone at work might encourage the idea that being yourself (a parent, Latina, senior, ex-military or any type that doesn't fall into a brogrammer stereotype) is less valued.
This interesting article by New York Times wrote a good amount about how the term may have become synonymous to what it is today. The origin of the term in the tech world context isn't as important as its implication in the workplace culture. Most uses of the term or the likes of it, either intentionally or not, subtlely creates a barrier between those who fall into the stereotype the organization wants to promote (again, not necessarily intentional) and the rest of the more normal ones.
For-profit startup companies are incentivized to acquire employees who work as much as possible while spending as little as possible to get to break even or acquire more funding before they run out of money. This doesn't mean this is true for all of them, but it's easy to go down this slippery slope and herald a certain stereotype as a rockstar.
The paradox here is that the greater you are heralded as a rockstar employee, the less you're trained to become a leader. Most leaders aren't going to strike you as rockstars. They are resilient, patient, and humble. Most employers might not want leaders working under them, at least not in most positions. Characteristic leaders raise their voices for the values they stand for, start an argument to better things that might not directly fall under their role, and take shortcuts and find creative hacks to help their company with very little respect for structure and protocol. Moreover, they are honest about their feelings and others', which can appear as expressing weaknesses (when in fact, it takes daring greatly to speak up). They are just too risky because they can easily create a stir where it does not matter to the company. It's a fundamental conflict of interest.
So keep this mind: Just because you aren't within the celebrated stereotype does not mean you aren't valuable. Speak up, let yourself be heard. Talk to your manager. Because a culture that openly ranks someone as a rockstar is one that slowly corrodes the moral value of the whole team.