At Intel we support employees being their full authentic selves, because that’s when true creativity and innovation is possible. Meet Miki Demeter, a security researcher for Open Source in the Intel Product Assurance and Security (IPAS) group, and an openly transgender employee.
When Miki first joined Intel in 2007, she was not out. Starting at Intel she says “It was really difficult. I had been out for over a decade, but never at work. I tried to be very normal looking. When I did finally come out at work, I was leaving my old Intel group and transitioning to my new position at IPAS.”
Miki recalls her experience with HR, saying “I was really surprised at how many really supportive HR people I’ve been able to talk to over the last couple of years.” She then individually told her coworkers. “Every single woman said ‘you aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know’ and every single man was like a deer in the headlights and had no clue. I had kept myself very separate from people at work and pushed people away and was never really part of the team until I came out. Once I came out everything changed.”
“The way that it’s made me feel over the last two or three years here at Intel has changed drastically in the way that I feel about myself and the way that I feel about my work. I’m much more connected to the people that I work with.”
This connection to her work is important. As a security researcher, it is Miki’s job to ensure that Intel ships products without security vulnerabilities. “It takes a lot of relationship building because we look at things differently than most software development teams. Software Development teams are interested in getting the product to market. We’re interested in seeing them put the product out in a way that minimizes risk to Intel. So while we all want the same thing, we come at it from different directions.”
Her colleagues call her “the hardest working woman in security,” and she certainly is. Outside of Intel, Miki is currently sitting on the board of directors for three 5013c organizations, including the Diana Initiative whose goal is to encourage diversity and support women pursuing careers in information security, and she serves as a Technical Evangelist for Women Who Code. Outside of the tech space, she is on the board of directors for the Vernonia volunteer fire department, where she used to serve as a volunteer firefighter, and she also breeds and raises Irish Wolfhounds—sitting on the board of directors for the Irish Wolfhound Club of America. “I have true work-life balance because I’m doing so many other things that I’m very passionate about and driven to do and then I can come into work and I can be very passionate about the work that I do here.”
When asked if she has any advice for others, Miki said “Coming out is a personal choice, and as long as you’re comfortable with it, that’s great. But if you’re not comfortable, don’t worry. There’s no time schedule for when you have to come out.” Miki herself didn’t come out at the workplace until working for Intel, and even then she waited a few years. But now, she says, “I cannot think of a single place I have worked in my career that treats everyone with respect and embraces diversity and inclusion like Intel. And it’s not just on the surface. There is a deep, continuous acceptance and respect for everyone embedded throughout the entire company.”