loading...

Do you think ageism in tech is improving?

rose profile image Rose ・1 min read

There's often been talk in tech communities about how there's a degree of ageism involved in hiring in software development that is worse than in a lot of other professional industries, i.e. young people get hired, old people do not.

As the industry continues to grow I hear less about ageism in tech and I'm wondering if it's evolving and is less of an issue now than it was 10 years ago, and if it will continue to improve.

Or am I way out of touch and it's still a rampant issue?

Discussion

markdown guide
 

If you get entrenched in "tried-and-true" methods then your value as an employee is going to stagnate or decline - the skills necessary for the job have shifted under your feet and you haven't kept up.

This is true, but irrelevant. It can happen to 25 year olds as well as 50 year olds. Ageism is a bias such that people will assume it is more likely to be the case with older workers, and thus be reluctant to hire those workers, or move past the resume-viewing stage.

The problem with Ageism, as with any other form of discrimination, cannot be explained away by the "meritocracy", because the problem is that it creates an inequality of opportunity, meaning many older folks do not even get the chance to prove their worth.

As an aside, using "meritocracy" as a defense of the status quo is probably a habit you'll want to cure yourself of if you care about creating diverse and inclusive environments.

 

I can only speak for my place of work, and I can't say I've witnessed it much (doesn't mean it doesn't happen - it's a big place). Personally, I guess I've sort of been hit once about five years ago when I was passed on for promotion because the manager thought I had too much experience (even though I was a perfect fit for the job - I mean, positions like that one were created for people like me). I was told on the side that the manager wanted someone with fewer years of experience who he could mold into a "mini-me". So, yeah, that was weird.

 

That sounds like it was more of a case that he didn't like change or people questioning his actions. Your experience threatened him and he wanted someone that would do as he said without any opinions otherwise.

 

Yep, pretty much what I meant. You don't get that amount of experience unless you're "old" which is why I said "sort of". :)

I'd probably count that as a win to not be working for that guy.

Yeah, I found out later that we probably wouldn't have gotten along anyway. :) Mind you, my bank account probably wouldn't have cared. hehe

 

You're explaining only one side - the part which is visible AFTER you hire that person. While the problem discussed here is at the other end of the pipeline: the bias when hiring.

 

What does ageism really mean?

Does it mean hiring someone in their 40s with 20 years of Software Development experience?

Or does it mean hiring someone in their 40s, completely brand new to Software Development?

On average, I would say that someone in their 40s is less suited to learn from scratch an entirely new skillset than someone in their early 20s who is at their peak of mental abilities.
Edit: actually the above doesn't make any sense according to science so I am taking it back:
journals.plos.org/plosone/article?...

However, contrary to our prediction, older adults showed similar rates of learning as indexed by a configural learning score compared to young adults. These results suggest that the ability to acquire knowledge incidentally about configural response relationships is largely unaffected by cognitive aging

It also depends on the role. I would never hire an architect without a considerable amount of proven experience, but I can get away with paying half the money to a new grad for moving a pixel on the screen.

 

someone in their 40s is less suited to learn from scratch an entirely new skillset than someone in their early 20s who is at their peak of mental abilities.

This sounds like... ageism. The assumption that a 27 year old has greater mental capacity than a 47 year old is tenuous even in a general sense, and is of course ridiculous to assume that it is true for every individual.

 

Actually you are right, and some quick reading proves that it is a general misconception:
journals.plos.org/plosone/article?...
health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/h...

However, contrary to our prediction, older adults showed similar rates of learning as indexed by a configural learning score compared to young adults. These results suggest that the ability to acquire knowledge incidentally about configural response relationships is largely unaffected by cognitive aging

 

It means not hiring people due to their age, fearing they are too slow to keep up with technology and compete. I've never really heard about it in established companies like banks, but startups definitely have that culture.

 

To Be Honest for Me a Person Living in Pakistan this Picture Depicts the Best Hiring Process.
Funny Hiring Process

According to Me the Good Organizations and Companies and Ever Startups Does Not Look for A Perfect Candidate they try to find some with the passion for growth and learning and good problem-solving skills.

I think that age does not matter in software industry as long as person is passionate to do the hard work by himself.

In My Country, the Money is Everything Software Organizations and Houses Wants Such Candidates who know everything and they can do work at a very cheap rate.

 

it is an ongoing problem, it is trying to be taken seriously if you are already in a position... and then being considered when looking for a new position. Unfortunately the value of experience is too often measured against specific technical experience and not overall experience that is transferable and relevant

 

To be honest i think there is a sweet spot in development which is around 30's.

Before that you are usually too unexperienced :

  • jump on every new trend without any reflexion (google use it why not me ?)
  • Make common mistake that everybody has made at least once
  • Lack of a "global" vision

After that , you usually starts to search for a comfort zone to stop learning all the time. Sure you have a lot of experience but you start to loose the passion.

Sure that's not always true , but sometime (most of the time ?) it is and that where the ageism problem in tech come from in my opinion.

 

I'm 50 and I've been learning a bunch of new stuff over the past couple of years and never shy from looking into something new (unless I'm really not interested in some (tech/language/whatever), which does happen). But yeah, I do know some people who don't seem to be willing to learn much more though many times they really shouldn't have pick this field to begin with.

Basically, if I'm in any "comfort zone" for too long, I get bored. :)

 

It's exactly there where it always was, with a touch of worse. Why should it be less?

 

It should be less since people need to realize that age shouldn't matter when hiring for a job. Ageism is just as wrong as sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc, so it should be eliminated. A 40 year old person has just as much a right to an IT job as a 20 year old does. That's why it should be less.

 

The question was "is it still a rampant issue?". Not about "is it still a bad issue?". Yes it is still rampant because hiring practices haven't changed into better. I'm saying hiring practices, not hiring theories. Nobody will recognize being racist or sexist either, right? They will write beautiful and empowering blog articles about their hiring practices, and in the interview they'll kick the 50+ out as soon as they miss a beat. Of course there are exceptions like everywhere, but in general yes it's rampant.

You're just telling me everybody does like you, which is NOT the case.