deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[personal profile] deborah
I've left Tufts DCA after the longest tenure I've had at a job to become a support engineer at Safari Books Online. Among other things, this means that after nearly a decade, I've left academia for private industry.

Well, for publishing. Which is like private industry, but for people laugh at profit.[note]

Nineteen years ago, I started my professional career as a SunOS & Solaris systems administrator (after spending college as a VAX/VMS and Ultrix sysadmin). That naturally developed into release engineering and systems programming, as many senior sysadmin jobs eventually do. I loved the work; I love the behind-the-scenes infrastructural awesomeness of sysadminning, and release engineering was so satisfying. (We used Perforce, which back in those days, was one of the only non-terrible revision control systems.)

But I left. Sometimes I tell people it was the injury, and sometimes I say it was the gender issues, but honestly you can't separate the two. I sustained my injury in an office where women were regularly treated so badly such things happened. When another co-worker and I both were getting RSI, I sat daily at a too-high folding table while she had to sit on the floor with her keyboard and mouse on a box -- while a spare office full of desks, returns, and keyboard trays was kept in reserve so they'd be available if we hired "important" people, which is to say any male hires. (This was part of a larger pattern. For example, every male middle manager got his own office; the three female middle managers shared one office among the three of them.) The misogyny can't be extracted from the injury.

So I left what I loved, in pain and embittered. I went to library school, dreaming of a reference desk position. And in library land, I learned that someone with an MLS and hard core tech skills is about in demand as you can be in a 21st century library, and I loved working in digital libraries and archives so much.

But ultimately I realized that my greatest job satisfaction came when I coded something: code to get materials into the Tufts Digital Library, to clean objects, to add accessibility to the DL or to our collection management system. A finished piece of code that does what it needs to gives me a kind of visceral pleasure I don't get from other kinds of work. And at Safari, I'm doing work that's so similar to what I did at Tufts, albeit for a closed repo instead of an open one, but I get to focus on the code.

So I'm back. I'm thinking the intervening decade, with all the accompanying awareness-raising, has made tech into a safer place. I hope so, because I love it here. I don't want to leave my home again.

[Note] I snark; Safari does just fine, online tech books being a popular item even before you get to all the reference book contracts. Though after a decade in academia, my scales for what is considered financial success are all off. Academic institutions measures success not by quarterly profit, which can be low, but by the size of the endowments they sit jealously and often uselessly upon like learned Smaugs.[back]
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