23Sep

Lesbians Who Tech Summit SF // Kronda Adair

Freelance Programmer, Kronda Adair’s introduction to Lesbians who Tech seemed random to her as she recalls in a follow-up blog post about the summit, it came in a tweet from founder Leanne Pittsford asking her to come to SF. Adair, a freelancer with no corporate backing didn’t have access to the funds needed to get her to SF and so she quickly set up an Indigo-go crowd raising campaign and within hours she came up with the funds needed. In fact, she raised more than she needed and donated it back to the summit scholarship fund.

Adair starts her talk simply saying, “today I get to share with you how I went from 0 to professional nerd in 42 short years.” She shares tidbits about the many of the jobs she has had in her life from painting fire hydrants and making jump ropes to working as a barista and the UPS store. Shortly after working as a project manager in Kinko’s she joined a small marketing start up company. She recalls one day that a contracted programmer came into the office and sat down for a meeting with the boss. While the details of what the meeting was about have been erased, she realized three things; this guy was probably making three times the amount of money she was, he could work anywhere and could be mobile, and he had limited contact with her difficult boss. That meeting spurred her to contact the local community college and sign up to take classes in web development with the intention of obtaining an associates degree. During her time at the college she qualified for a scholarship that would allow her to go to any school in Oregon to earn a bachelors and landed at the The Art Institute of Portland.

After graduation, she landed a job as a web developer at a firm. After three months at this job she had an internal review of her work. The boss asked her what her short term and long term goals were and she mentioned that she would like to work on her back end programming skills. Without hesitating he said, “Well you know, the males have been working on this for 15 years I don’t think you will ever get to that level.” She mostly brushed it off and ignored other red flags as she had some student debt to pay off. After a couple promotions and a few raises, she was laid off. She recalls as the CEO called her into his office and said that they were moving away from “work-life balance” and toward “career advancement.” and “I don’t think this is a good cultural fit for you.” She called her wife to tell her the news and was met with a four pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a condolence card, and a huge hug. Her wife asked her if she was ok and Adair exclaimed, “Yeah! I’m great!” because she realized “the weight of all the bullshit was lifted off.”

Shortly thereafter she recalled the freelance programmer from her earlier job and decided that she would pursue that route now. She begun attending wordpress meetups and networking events and soon enough she had clients who needed what she was capable of! She re- emphasizes the dichotomy between working for someone in an environment where microaggressions were a daily occurrence and working for herself where she has freedom and ease. She hears daily from clients that they feel empowered launching their website because of her guidance, patience, and professionalism. She jokes that she still has to fight with the “purr programmer” whereby the cat thinks that it has control of the keyboard and compares that to a white male CEO. She notes that the biggest benefit starting her own company has been that she has control over who she works with on what and has the ability to fire clients that are draining. It has allowed her to find a balance of sustainability and health whereby she can stay in the field long term. She closes by thanking the people who supported her Indigo-go campaign to get her to the summit.