A Decade as a Woman in the Tech Industry
Jennifer Aldrich

I spent a decade in the tech industry as a transwoman and database administrator & developer, as well as web developer, after transitioning in 2006. I had the huge advantage of a computer science degree and no gender barriers before then, as well as experience as an electronics technician (while I was in college). In the School of Engineering and Computer Science from which I graduated there was one woman studying undergraduate civil engineering. The picture improved when the computer science program opened (there was only engineering when I started, and I switched majors to CS when it became available), but not by a lot. We did have a woman on the CS faculty, eventually. She left to start a family, and returned when her daughter was older.

I lost my high-paying job when I transitioned (at an “LGBT-friendly” Fortune 100 company with a meaningless corporate LGBT policy), took a lower-paying job, and spent over a year unemployed during the decade before finding another high paying job. None of this was unexpected, except for the excellent pay at the last one (OK, well it was a bit of a sweat shop, but that’s the industry now.) I don’t identify as “transgender” — I have a slew of rare medical issues from my mother having being very unhealthy along with a traumatic birth — but I have done volunteer work in the community and still do a little, sometimes. It really doesn’t matter. Trans ranks below female. Below human, for some, and no wonder with all the craziness going on.

I’ve retired now (health reasons — it is hard to be retirement age and work at a company that offers no sick leave, making you bank your vacation instead — so no vacation) and trying to start a part-time SQL Server consulting business. That developer’s world seems to be a white man’s world, mostly. I never worked with any women or Black developers in my 40-year career, that I can recall. The picture is better for DBAs and QA, at least now, and most of my DBA mentors were women.

I have encountered a number of programs that are trying to reach middle-school girls to prepare them for tech careers. Mostly they are teaching web development, and we have nothing locally at this point. I am hoping to work with a local charter school principal (a woman) that I know, to possibly start something.

I am not aware of any program anywhere so far that prepares girls for work in database development or administration. Right now that project is on hold until I come up with enough consulting work to provide a supplemental income to my retirement. I am swamped with volunteer work, including some technical, some homeless support, some church property management (learning it from scratch — with help from a woman that is a property manager), but no database work so far.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.