“Systemic” Age Discrimination in Tech, even as Tech Workers Get “Better with Age”

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But “ageism” exists “across all industries,” not just Tech.

Many people have seen this with their own eyes as it happened to others, or have experienced it themselves even as companies have vigorously denied it. So finally, here are some numbers that expose blatant age discrimination in the Tech industry, both in hiring and promotions, and it’s even worse than the age discrimination in Non-Tech industries.

The study boils down to this: if you’re a Baby Boomer, forget it. And if you’re Gen X, it’s tough.

These numbers are not based on VC-funded startups where the two founders may be 27 and 28 and the oldest people of the bunch. No one even bothers to mention age discrimination in these outfits. It’s just a fact of life. No, these numbers are based on an analysis of over 330,000 US-based employees – 63,000 in Tech and 267,000 in other industries – from 43 large companies. This is Corporate America.

Here is what the study by Visier, which provides workforce analytics for HR professionals, found: “Systemic ageism is occurring in Tech hiring practices.”

Here are some nuggets:

  • Millennials (aged 20 to 33) make up 43% of the workforce in Tech, compared to 26% in Non-Tech.
  • Gen X workers (aged 34 to 51) make up 45% of the Tech workforce, compared to 47% for non-Tech.
  • Baby Boomers (aged 52 to 70) make up less than 12% of the Tech workforce, compared to 27% in Non-Tech.
  • Non-manager workers in Tech are on average 38 years old and thus five years younger than Non-Tech workers (43 years old).
  • Managers in Tech are on average 42 years old, vs. 47 in Non-Tech – not that managers in Non-Tech industries don’t face age discrimination, it’s just not as brazen.

But performance is not the problem.

The study found that the older workers in Tech had more “Top Performer” ratings in their respective jobs. Some nuggets:

  • “From age 40 onward, non-manager workers in Tech enter the ‘Tech Sage Age’ and are increasingly likely to receive a Top Performer rating as they age, mature, and gain experience, compared to Non-Tech.”
  • The proportion of Top Performers in Tech increases with age, but in Non-Tech industries the proportion decreases.
  • “This suggests that maturity and experience are more important drivers of high performance in Tech than in Non-Tech industries.”




Despite the high performance of older workers in Tech, they’re being discriminated against via both, hiring practices and promotions:

  • Tech hires a higher proportion of younger workers and a smaller proportion of older workers than Non-Tech.
  • Notably, the Tech Sage Age does not translate into higher promotion rates for older non-manager workers in Tech. Rather, promotion rates for Tech workers decrease continuously with age as they do in Non-Tech.

This produces a “disconnect” for older workers between their rising performance and their declining promotions with age. In a sidebar, Visier’s report cited a study by researchers from the computer science department at North Carolina State University that found that programming knowledge actually improved with age:

Using Stack Overflow user data, they found a correlation between age and reputation. They found that: “…programmer reputation scores increase relative to age well into the 50s, that programmers in their 30s tend to focus on fewer areas relative to those younger or older in age, and that there is not a strong correlation between age scores in specific knowledge areas.”

As older programmers are “getting better with age,” what are their salaries doing?

Turns out, non-manager workers in Tech and Non-Tech experience similar salary trajectories: The median salary for workers in both sectors increases in the first phases of the career and peaks in their early 40s, at which point it “stabilizes” for both – that is, it begins to decline slightly for both.

However managers in Tech experience some salary increases as they age – if they remain employed in Tech, which, as the above numbers show, is very hard to do.

The study summarizes: “We found that hiring decisions in Tech do indeed favor younger candidates” compared to Non-Tech industries. Millennials are the big winners – at the expense of Gen X candidates and Baby Boomers.

But the study also found that “both Tech and Non-Tech focus their hiring on younger workers compared to the existing workforce, while a smaller proportion of older workers is hired, compared to the proportion in the existing workforce.”

This indicates that age bias occurs “at some level across all industries.” And this is even worse than if it happened just in Tech, because it shows just how systemic ageism is in Corporate America.

The reaction of the 143 million consumers whose data was stolen in the Equifax hack has been strong. Now lenders and companies with consumer products, such as automakers, are beginning to fear a doom-and-gloom scenario: Consumers suddenly becoming prudent. Read…  Debt-Slave Industry Frets over Impact of Mass Credit Freezes




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  100 comments for ““Systemic” Age Discrimination in Tech, even as Tech Workers Get “Better with Age”

  1. bev kennedy
    Oct 1, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    It is epidemic not just in employment but in failure of human rights tribunals to recognize rampant age linked discrimination for consumers of such services and products offered to them by the industry to supposedly help them put aside for later years. Right down to subpar non compliant Ltools” for do it yourself investors but the contract clauses they sign before they can even open accounts to access these services
    Further the skunky regulatory nexuas of oversight only compounds the harm by providing a very defective dispute resolion access to judicial remedy to these consumers. The older you get the harder it is to mitigate the damage..employment linked age discrimination is only the tip of the iceberg…you will also notice much more finely honed examples of discrimination to demostrate other protected grounds by human rights oversight bodies compared to aage linked discrimination. We have an aging demographic whose legal rights and opportunities are limited even when they seek redress because regulatory oversight are not up to speed re age linked discrimination and the many emerging types

    • gary
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:28 am

      There’s one myth that needs to be cleared up. And that’s that “tech workers” are working with cutting-edge, new technologies that old folks don’t grasp.

      I have worked in this industry, and most companies use the cheapest solution they can get away with. To make a long story short, there are many major companies still using COBOL if you can believe it (that’s a programming language from the 1970’s era). The tech that you read about on Yahoo Finance is mostly in start-ups.

      • yoda
        Oct 2, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        Actually, COBOL is much older than that – it was designed back in 1959.

        Stuff from the 1970s that we still use includes Unix and C.

        • brad
          Oct 3, 2017 at 7:42 pm

          its not about “cutting edge” it is about firehose.
          The amount of information you have to consume is like having a firehose turned on to your head.
          I’m 54 and the amount of information I need to consume to make decisions is overwhelming at times.

          So if you can juggle 3 things at once and attend 6+ hours of meetings a day and still do technical work. Then deliver it all on schedule + cost along with your team then your cut out to be a tech manager.

          Needless to say Im exhausted.
          My days start at 4:30am and I’m falling into bed at 8:30pm.
          Oh and you better be ready to deal with attitude on a daily basis.

    • Kay
      Oct 7, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Age discrimination is covered in the Civil Rights Act in the United States Constitution. Maybe the apathetic generation born in the 1960’s will allay with Generation X and make a loud movement about age discrimination. Don’t count on the older baby boomers they screwed everyone born after 1960 over.
      My son is an engineer and he told me Fortran still rules. I disliked learning Fortran.

  2. bev kennedy
    Oct 1, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    There are a limited number of situations where grounds of discrimination can be tied. Our oversight need to get up to speed on the serious financial socio implications in these other aspects eg service providers eg banks finance industry contracts, and of course employment including the more subtle items such as not ofering older workers certain types of training to up grade….in the UK even mortgages are being denied based purely on age. For older individuals. Denial of emploment opportunit can start as low as mid forties in the financial industry. So as the article points out this is rampant and not exclusive to the tech industry…..our liberal government in Canada speaks of. The middle class and then separately seniors…..as if seniors couldn’t also be part of the middle class. Age discrimination needs to be updated and the will to enforce compliance needs to have the political will behind it not just talk

    • Kim
      Oct 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      By Constitutional Age Discrimination law, age discrimination only pertains when someone “under” 40 years of age gets a job over someone 40+ years of age. For example, someone 40 years old can get a job over someone 50 or 60 years old, and it would not be considered age discrimination. I believe there’s still a problem there. Besides, most hiring managers could probably make a case for some other variants between candidates as being the reason for hiring a younger person. Younger people should consider the inevitable, that unlike other “-isms” one day they will most likely fit the ageism stigma. They can be proactive and try to do something about apparent injustices now. Problem is, they probably don’t see any :)

      • bkennedy
        Oct 15, 2017 at 3:25 pm

        Yes in the context of employment age forty was critical andd there was a cap at age 65 re mandatory retirement. The age cap has now been removed to assist older employers whereas in employment context oddly “seniors” used to be excluded in law
        If you chheck Human rights law particularly in canada. The cut off now is 18 and for many jurisidiction there is no age specific top cap re age. Further there are other circumstances where age linked discrimination is a growing issue. Eg contract clauses and adverse effect…and service providers offering these boiler plate contracts with problematic terms that must be signed before the retail consumer aka investor can use the services of dealer brokers to provision for their later years financially. employment age discrimination is a fairly well trodden path compared to other situations where grounds can or should be applied. Noting the severe underfunding of many company pensions. (consider what age contributions start at the the end goal). Even if the downsized worker ends up raiding that nest egg intended for their Lgolden years”.

  3. BradK
    Oct 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    It’s a perfect storm in three letters: H-1B. Consider:

    Most all H-1B’s are on the very young end of the age spectrum and command significantly lower salaries than U.S. workers.

    U.S. tech workers replaced by H-1B’s are more likely to be at the older end of the spectrum and among the higher paid.

    Most of the old guard tech giants (IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, etc.) which seem the most enthusiastic about this are also the most likely places to be employing seasoned workers in the first place.

    It may not seem fair but the results of the study are hardly surprising. I would expect the curve to skew younger and younger over time.

    In the race to the bottom, no one can afford the talent to do it right but often has to contend with the costs of doing it over.

    • bev kennedy
      Oct 1, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      This might explain the failed Phoenix payroll mess up here.

  4. Rates
    Oct 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    I work in tech as a hard code programmer and I belong to Gen X. Let me say this, as I get older, I become more and more disillusioned by ….. older programmers. This statement “getting better with age” really needs to get evaluated more properly. Are they better with OLDER technologies? Absolutely yes, but the nature of tech is that new technologies appear all the time, and you’ll always have to be prepared to learn new skills. In that situation then, what’s the use of being proficient in older technologies?

    Now all of these are not necessarily the fault of individuals. Having a family, etc really limits the time available for individuals, and companies also often are reluctant to train willing older workers in new tech. HOWEVER, I have also been in too many situations whereby older workers plainly just refuse to learn new stuff and they are willing to do whatever it takes to suppress new AND BETTER ideas just to protect their domain.

    Younger workers lack experience in building large critical systems, but they are more willing to experiment and take risks. Their thinking is not yet rigid and they are more willing to take criticism and accept new ideas. Finally, often times they are satisfied with “good enough” code as opposed to older programmers who will often fight over matters such as formatting of code or how a specific piece of code is written. It’s as if these people are writing code to win the Nobel Price of Literature as opposed to something that helps people make money or some other utility.

    In the end it’s not young vs old. Good programmers are worth 10x ordinary programmers (young or old). Most people should not code; full stop. And no I am not being elitist. I myself should not be a surgeon, etc because I’ll suck at those. The problem we have nowadays is that the economy is out of balance due to muppets putting too much weight in technology thus tipping the scales in terms of wages, etc.

    • Mike
      Oct 1, 2017 at 11:56 pm

      I think a big problem is that the life-cycles of technology is getting shorter and shorter, and they are getting so specialized that you have to learn more and faster… and what you learn today may be completely obsolete in 2 years. At some point, brains just get full.

      My experience is quite the opposite regarding ‘art’ – the older programmers I’ve worked with are lot more flexible in the code because they care more about results, while the younger ones are much more demanding on conforming to style standards. I’m sure this depends on the workplace that you are at.

      I think you are right on about seasoned folks being set in their ways and less interested in taking risks. I think that’s human nature though, not specific to tech.

      • Paid Minion
        Oct 2, 2017 at 11:55 am

        Not a techie, but “Set in our Ways”?

        All I can tell you about tech is that it replaces stuff that works perfectly fine, with glitchy, bloated crap that takes a couple of years to sort out.

        And you can’t continue to use the old stuff, because it’s “unsupported”.

        Windows 10/11 doesn’t do a damn thing for me that XP didn’t do.

        • Rates
          Oct 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

          Bullshit. Most projects fail due to insufficient business requirements full stop. And when that happens, bad “programmers” just make things up on the fly as opposed to clarifying the requirements.

          I’ve worked long enough to see the switch from C++ to Java as one example. Saying that C++ as a perfectly fine technology is complete rubbish especially when the creator does not even understand the full language.

          I am not a worshipper of any one tech. C++ will still be one of the few games in town when writing super performant code. But its use case is limited and writing code in C++ is error prone.

          Not all new technologies are better, but some truly are. And please, no one does things in Windows anymore. Most apps are out there, and most shops don’t run Windows servers for stability reasons.

          See this is the one example I was talking about. Most old dogs can’t learn new tricks.

    • 2GeekRnot2Geek
      Oct 2, 2017 at 5:15 am

      Rates,

      You have just damned your own career in another 5-10 years with the fact that you are disillusioned with older programmers. ; )

      BTW after a certain age companies are usually completely against training older workers in new technologies. Since Age+Experience = New job at a higher salary in any emerging technology. (Unless you’re < 5 years in, H1B, or sponsored GC and can’t change jobs.)

      If you take the time to train yourself, here's how it plays out:

      1. You are so critical to other projects that you will never be given the opportunity to use your new skills unless you personally find a way to make it happen.

      2. You are brought in to a firefight for a project in a new tech that has gone sideways and financially painful deadlines are approaching. After that you will be returned to the more critical work.

      As for suppression of good ideas based on seniority, I commented on this the other day. It’s a really bad idea in tech. It leads to crappy systems and disillusioned, poorly mentored junior programmers.

      And for new skills, by the third language, it’s all just semantics.

      And yeah, you are being a bit elitist. The “muppet” comment gives it away.

      30+ years in the industry, and the best advice I can give you is change the way you think. You will be the older programmer on the chopping block within the next 10 years. All of us, from the newest to the most senior bring something to the table.

      • Rates
        Oct 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Trust me. I didn’t miss the fact that I’ll be an older programmer in 10 years if I am still working as one. I am against age discrimination for obvious reasons, but defending bad workers just because of their age is also not a good thing. Just take a look at the stagnation in Japan with their well entrenched seniority/age based roles.

        People/ideas should be judged on merits only and you always have to be prepared to question your old assumptions.

        You are completely missing the context when it comes to my “muppets” comment. I think I should be paid LESS. I am serious. Writing code is not some job that merits a super high pay and outrageous compensation. It’s not as if you are contributing to the betterment of the human race. It’s just a job. How is that elitist? I was simply stating that the unthinking masses should use their brains more.

        • Oct 2, 2017 at 2:53 pm

          I’ll respond to just this one: “Just take a look at the stagnation in Japan”

          In Japan GDP growth per working-age person is by far the highest among major developed economies. And per-capita GDP growth is high too.

          However, the working-age population is shrinking rapidly, and the total population is shrinking too, and Japan isn’t importing vast numbers of foreigners to make up for it, so the economy overall is growing despite the shrinking population.

          Japan has a vibrant creative culture and develops all kinds of new leading-edge technologies all the time. This includes sectors like robotics, where they’re a world leader.

          There has been no stagnation in Japan – except in population growth. And that’s a good thing, given how vast and crowded the largest urban areas already are.

          Oh, and they’ve been spared decades of inflation that has impoverished workers in the US.

        • Lee
          Oct 2, 2017 at 4:11 pm

          “Japan isn’t importing vast numbers of foreigners to make up for it.”

          And I hope that never changes. They will avoid 99% of the problems faced by other countries as a result of immigration and all the problems it brings.

          “And that’s a good thing, given how vast and crowded the largest urban areas already are.”

          Unfortunately the hollowing out of Japan is happening in the countryside and smaller towns now which will lead to many of those places actually disappearing. For example, estimates are that in the next 20 or 30 years 50% of the towns and villages in Hokkaido will cease to be.

          To see how this is going on just go to any Japanese Wikipedia site for a railroad station and look at the changes in the number of passengers using a station over the years. You’ll see huge drops in usage over the years for the towns and villages that are dying.

          What this also means is that population will continue to grow in the big cities for the same time period after which they too start to experience populations falls.

          So that decrease in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka will not start to happen for some time.

          “Oh, and they’ve been spared decades of inflation that has impoverished workers in the US.”

          I’ll have to disagree with you on that one. Wages have barely changed over the years in Japan and in many cases have fallen. This is true for Jaanese as well as foreigners.

          (Even worse for those foreign English teachers at Japanese universities. Most of those jobs there are now in fact wage slaves and not lecturers or Assistant Professors although they may that job title.

          Most full time teaching jobs now at universities now require you to be on campus five days a week for a set period of time. This requirement also applies to school breaks as well.

          The number of classes for many jobs are now around 10 classes per week or more, office hours, meetings, additional duties, and kissing the higher ups’ behinds as well.

          Salary for that wonderful experience will run from around 300,000 to 400,000 yen per month. No retirement pay and no bonuses either.

          My base at my full time university job was much higher than that and I taught six classes a week, didn’t have to be on campus except for the class times, one set period for office hours (2 hours week during semester time), meetings (once a week if I wanted to attend), and was expected to NOT be on campus during school breaks. So in reality I worked full time for 6 months a year and was free to teach as an adjunct at other universities and undertake consulting as I wished.

          Oh, I had to do the required research and publish just like the Japanese full time teacher though.

          But my case was a little different to the current crop of ‘English’ teachers as I mainly taught in the Business and Finance area and English classes as well.)

          Actual prices people pay for items have gone up in the areas of medicine, taxes, insurance, and pensions. These areas have really hit the household budget especially for those that are older.

          In addition prices of people’s main asset in the country and smaller towns, their houses, have not appreciated at all and in fact have fallen in price. This is contrast to the stable or increasing price of real estate in the big cities.

          In fact, there was an interesting article in the Japan Times about heirs not even wanting some of these RE assets which has led to a huge area of Japan having no known owner:

          https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/10/01/how-tos/re-registering-property-lie-land/#.WdF5dTVx1xA

          And here is an example of one job paying 328,000 yen a month, US$3100 or so a month) but only 7 or 8 classes a week. MA or PhD required.

          https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D117090010&ln_jor=1

          Here is one with a little better salary of 4.8 million yen per year and 10 classes a semester with required extra work during breaks and Saturday work as well. MA required.

          https://jrecin.jst.go.jp/seek/SeekJorDetail?fn=3&ln=1&id=D117090651&ln_jor=1

    • R2D2
      Oct 2, 2017 at 8:20 am

      For one thing, you don’t even know the term “hard core programmer” and not “hard code programmer.” That alone shows how much you know.

      I’m a Gen x programmer as well, and one thing is absolutely obvious that I am a far better programmer than I ever was, and it would be frightening to think how good I’ll be in 10 years. So, it is not about age. Also seeing yourself as far better than anyone else just cause you are a few years younger, specially given that you are old enough, is a sign that even at this age, your thought and brain physiology have not matured.

      It’s about individual, and not age. Some people become more stupid with age, and some get far smarter. The fact that you rail against older people in tech might be a reflection of trend in your own life; you are getting more rigid, and you think everyone else is doing the same.

      Take Wolf; at this age, he knows this much about finance and money; imagine how good he will be in 10 years from now?

      That said, I’m almost certain that I’ll have my own company soon. And I will hire based on knowledge and competency, and not based on age, sex, color, race, or religion.

      • Rates
        Oct 2, 2017 at 1:22 pm

        Again, you are not reading my full post. I did say that “in the end it’s not about age.”

        You mention: “And I will hire based on knowledge and competency”, and I agree. Nowhere in my post did I say that age is the only criteria for hiring. There are super smart older programmers, but saying that in general ALL older programmers are better is just rubbish.

        You pointed out that Wolf’s getting better as he ages, then why are people here complaining about Janet Yellen? She’s getting older too, so she should be 10x wiser. Why not just elect her to be Fed Chairwoman for life? Or how about Trump? Or other bad politicians? Age is no guarantee of anything.

        And please, “hard code” vs “hard core”. I made a spelling mistake. Next you’ll be telling me that you’ve never made one in your life or that your code is always bug free. It’s a low blow and you know it.

        • R2D2
          Oct 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm

          You are drifting; your main point was older programmer are useless. Now, you keep changing your story. If you are mature enough, then you either defend your original point, or realize you were wrong and apologize, rather than changing your story.

          No one is against Janet Yellen just cause she is old; no one likes these people because they are in it to protect the wealth of the elites. So, her age doesn’t have anything to do with our criticizing of her.

          I considered the fact that your finger might have simply slipped and typed code vs. core, but if you type conventionally, then the fingers which press c vs. r are 2 different fingers. The only reason you made that mistake is that you though the term is hard code; after years of coding you don’t even know such an obvious term that any coder learns in the first year of his programming. Call it having a detectives mind :).

        • Raymond C Rogers
          Oct 2, 2017 at 10:46 pm

          Really interesting back and forth. I will have to point out, however, that Rates did not say all workers, nor did he make exclusive statements regarding the field, but merely pointed out what he has experienced. People, in general, are more likely to be more flexible when they are young. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, the older people get the more life commitment they have.

          But my money goes on the person who mentioned the H1Bs. There are plenty of sellouts in both parties that roll out the red carpet, and give tech companies everything they so desire.

    • Matt
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:01 am

      Older programmers obsessed by formatting – nonsense. Obsession with code formatting is one of the key indicators of programming immaturity. With age you gain pragmatism and a feel for when to apply it. Your post doesn’t ring true.

    • Kent
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Rates,

      I’m 55, a programmer by trade, and now a CIO level type. My experience is that there are very few good programmers today vs 20 years ago. The reason being that the level of abstraction in software development is light years above where it used to be.

      Frankly, nobody knows exactly how the JRE is going to interpret their code or how some .Net library really works. Does anybody really know what happens when you pass some JSON list to an object in Python or Ruby? Maybe the guy who wrote the interface. Maybe not.

      I wrote my own web server for fun in C++ back in the day. I wrote serial interfaces for credit card readers at gas pumps back in the early ’90’s in C. Back then you could understand how memory was being allocated and objects created and destroyed. That’s hard to do now.

      A good programmer today is someone who understands how to write code to requirements. How to make a customer happy. Who knows how to do proper unit and regression testing. And who knows some poor sucker is going to have to modify that code 10 years from now, and makes it easy for him. Some of that is gained with age and experience.

    • intosh
      Oct 2, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      That is very true.

      The fact that many older tech workers are not able to or refuse to keep up with new tech is a major contributor to ageism. This is unfair not necessarily to the older tech workers but for the older tech workers who DO keep up with new tech and who stay at the cutting edge.

      I work around lots of those older tech workers who are not keeping up with new tech. And that is not because they are unable to (due to family or what not); it is because they are just too lazy to change and explore, plain and simple. That is just human nature. At work, I see tech workers unwilling to try out new tools which would tremendously improve their productivity. This kind of exploration requires relatively little effort and involves low friction; so I’m not even talking about something much more involved such as teaching yourself outside of work a new programming language and its ecosystem.

      • Binky
        Oct 2, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        the reality is that these are mainly excuses; the real purposes are to cut labor costs by any means necessary and the clearest path to that is H1b, offshoring, fire the long timers who know what is up, and hire a lot of hot shot kids who think they know everything.
        The function of the software is not important. Security is not important. Keeping up with the marketing trends is important. Buzzwords are important. Do Boeing and Lockheed and Airbus fire all their experienced coders when the next block of fighters or bombers come out? No.

        They invested in those people and their knowledge.

        Does Microsoft fire a lot of old hands? Nope. Who does this? Scammers and business weasels who don’t care enough to have even the level of effort some people put into linux or open source projects to leave on github.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
        Oct 3, 2017 at 12:52 am

        My disillusionment with tech should be fairly well-known on here by now.

        What bugs me is, “everyone” said to get into tech when I was just out of high school in 1980, and what’s happened is more and more people got into it, wages went down (and were never great to begin with) and people like me lost tons of money to the college scam when we could have been in the unionized trades, starting a small farm, any damn thing would have been better.

        I’ve been dithering around with the idea of getting into manufacturing something, but I simply have no money to even think about producing any sort of physical item that’s wanted and that I could sell to support myself.

        You know that lazy kid who just wants to sit around playing his guitar and knows every Jimmy Page solo? That guy’s still around, has a stable of students, and doing far better than the average tech worker.

        It’s time to go back to the trumpet for me and just “sell” musical notes. And having just turned 55, and being now officially an Old Guy, well, in 5-10 years more development of my voice and my work on the horn, I’ll be in a good situation to teach a bunch of people too. Old guys are esteemed as music teachers.

        Any field that’s rapidly changing, any field that’s ballyhoo’d as being this great thing to get into, run away! Run far away!

        Pick something that’s changing as little as possible. Be the associate-degree-holding slug who works in HR or something.

        • Joe
          Oct 3, 2017 at 11:43 pm

          The average *starting* salary for a software engineer in the Bay Area is now approaching $130k, plus stock options. Five years experience in web or mobile app development gets you $170-200k, and experts make $250k and way way up. You keep proclaiming that the tech worker has it so bad, but you are absolutely deluded.

          My guess is that you haven’t kept your skills current and are simply bitching that the world has passed you by. If you are short on cash and actually remember any computer science, pick up some modern JavaScript (it’s improved remarkably in the last few years, now modular with OOP and excellent dev tools) and start getting paid. Even at your age, you could easily land $100k if you are halfway good.

      • P Walker
        Oct 3, 2017 at 7:05 am

        Most of the “new” technology is just incremental, at best. People are making it sound like there are these huge canyons between tech generations when, in reality, most of the gulf is little more than marketing to get people to replace their old sh*t with expensive new sh*t.

        Rate of innovation is slowing. Sorry people. Thank capitalism and/or greed for that. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G is a racket these days. As Graeber points out, we are awash in bullshit jobs and the cost should be measured in opportunities lost for real innovation because capitalism finds true innovation unwelcome.

        I just scratch my head when people sit there and say how Twitter, Facebook or Google are “innovators.”

        Two hundred years from now and our descendants, assuming they survive the crap were doing today, very rightly will look back upon our era as one of the most barbarous ages in human history. We can literally end world poverty and hunger history with just the technologies we have today.

  5. Lee
    Oct 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Have been made redundant a couple of times in the Wonderful World of Oz, I can tell you that age discrimination here is worse than ever.

    The first time was because the Federal government closed down our department. The second time was because the owner shut down the company. (That was a really ‘good’ experience as I was let go by email the first Monday of the New Year and when I tried to contact the company Headquarters in Sydney all the phones were off and the emails bounced back as well so evidently the closure had been planned a long time in advance. Just one step up from being let go by text message.)

    (Trying to find a decent job after that being in my late 50’s was a real challenge that was basically impossible. I ended up taking a dead end job at low pay.)

    You would be amazed at some of the imaginative excuses that people came up when I contacted them for feedback. I eventually gave up requesting feedback as it usually left me fuming for days afterwards.

    The worst offenders were the Australian Federal government followed by the State of Victoria (The State of Victoria recently started to try blind resumes that supposedly block out some of this data……….yeah right!!!)

    For example, I asked for feedback from one department and received a rude two page missive telling me that I wasn’t ‘qualified’ because the preferred candidate was a recent university graduate with a bachelor’s degree and had actually co-authored one published article…………..

    (Guess my multiple graduate degrees, articles, and two co-authored books were meaningless……….).

    One person ‘was busy’ and didn’t wanted to provide feedback as they had so many applicants for the position with even one ‘fool’ with Master’s degrees apply for the jobs (Followed by the person laughing……). I told him that was me and hung up.

    Even when working blatant agree discrimination was common. About a year after I started at that Federal department, they had a big recruitment going on and all staff were encouraged to apply for higher grade positions.

    Our team had generally higher than average age people compared to the other teams. Not one person on our team was selected for interview. All those selected were in their 20’s and 30’s. (Even the outside hires with no experience in the field were from that age group.)

    The next time the ‘opportunity’ came up, only person person from our team applied and was given an interview. She was rejected for the promotion and when she asked for feedback she was told “You have no management experience”. This person was in her 60’s and had been a supervisor at another government department where she was in charge of 20 teams of 6 people each. This was more people than the number working in our department.

    Go figure.

    And on and on.

    And it isn’t limited to the USA or Australia either. Here is a quote from one article from the UK I kept a bookmark of from back in 2010:

    “Recently, it completed a report, The Impact of the Recession on Older Workers, which concluded: ‘New figures reveal that older workers are finding it harder than any other age group to get back into work after being made redundant, with fewer than one in five of over-50s finding employment within three months, compared to more than 40 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds.”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300458/Middle-aged-middle-class-CVs–job.html#ixzz4uJABcxsr

    • bev kennedy
      Oct 1, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      And this is for the more blatantly overt statistically tracked examples

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Oct 3, 2017 at 12:57 am

      Lee – Find a way to get your living expenses down. I make 1000 USD a month, and have to pay 20% of that into taxes/SS/Medicare so really I’m living on $800 a month.

      The same money, dollar-for-dollar, I lived on when I was in college and making $5 an hour and living in a rooming house.

      A major part of my survival is I get to live in the building I work in. No running water, but I’m squared-away and “field conditions” don’t bother me as much as they might bother someone else. At least I have electric and about a year ago, got the internet.

      I get around by bicycle or public transit, or walk. I try to keep myself healthy, and only have one prescription that’s not too expensive. I have about 20 hours a week regular work here, and then have free time to goof off, do things, whatever. My main quandry is finding a way to “goof off” that pays and that I like or at least don’t mind so much.

  6. tony
    Oct 1, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Hey i’m 75 and i just got a job as a sex adviser so i left the car wash job.Things are looking up who knows what’s around the corner.

  7. raxadian
    Oct 1, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    If I was a programer I don’t think I would want to be promoted so much that I am no longer programing at all. But yeah this is a problem.

  8. Gian
    Oct 1, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    I see the beginning of a movement, Geriatric Lives Matter (GLM).

    • bkennedy
      Oct 1, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      The roots are embedded long before you retire by the way and you start to feel the early chill mid forties. When you are younger you don’t see this coming

    • Arizona Slim
      Oct 2, 2017 at 7:59 am

      That movement happened during the 1970s. It was called the Grey Panthers.

  9. GSH
    Oct 1, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    In the tech industry it is always move up or out. One should not expect 30-40 year careers unless you are running your own company.

    • Binky
      Oct 2, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      I think this is true only for a small segment of the industry, one that is part of the startup culture. Many programmers mock the coders who work in this segment because they are not really programmers in the sense that they aren’t innovating code base or solutions, they are mostly making web and phone apps from existing code base to implement someone else’s ideas.
      Look at banking, defense, telecommunications, and embedded systems. These areas work with a variety of problems that don’t get a lot of hype but do generate long term careers such that some can’t retire. Banking runs on Cobol and some use Pascal and other languages from the 1950s and 1960s. this is moshed in to a bunch of newer software.

      http://www.techrepublic.com/article/cobol-programmers-know-old-is-not-bad/

      Who writes the code for guided missiles and bombers? for antimissile systems? For minimally attended radar systems? Not a bunch of 19 year old haxors and H1b indentured servants, as much as the business guys would like.

  10. polecat
    Oct 1, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    So .. When is ‘new’ tech enough tech ??

    This overindulgence in all things new, shiny, and .. uh .. ‘infalible’ is way past it’s sell date, because it will be the death of society as we eventually all atomize into ill-relevance, where no one’s able to relate to anyone else in any meaningful, and humanly way !
    Just because something is new, or novel, or supposedly ‘improved upon’, does not always equate to mean good, or useful, or right … just look at the clusterfuck that are the FANGS ! !
    End of rant .

    • R2D2
      Oct 2, 2017 at 8:39 am

      This is not just about moving to new tech; some of it is companies trying to squeeze productivity out of tech workers even if the demand causes half of the tech workers die of heart attack resulting from the stress.

      Take the microservice trend; large companies such as Netflix are demanding that engineers publish updates to their code that go to production 4-5 times per day. These are production code; one mistake, and they will kick your rear end to the moon; so to publish updates to production code 4-5 times a day means you have to have absolutely no thought in your mind, but your job, your company, and your code. Most tech workers have no life.

      And it all goes back to Indian workers; because they take any crap that management demands of them, and there are literally millions of them in the tech industry, then the rest of us have to take that crap as well. H1-B destroyed the job market in the tech industry; and it is not just US companies. Companies in other countries copycat US companies specially in Canada and Australia. So, they brought in a lot of cheap Indian workers as well.

      • 2GeekRnot2Geek
        Oct 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

        R2D2,

        Seriously? Prod code drops 4-5 times a day? That is absolute madness! If you drop code 4-5 times a day, you can’t be testing, let alone regression testing.

        If finance adopts model that we should all go back to cash in mattresses immediately!

        • 2GeekRnot2Geek
          Oct 2, 2017 at 8:24 pm

          It must have been because you are R2D2 that I channeled Yoda for a second there.

          “If finance adopts model that”
          Should read
          “If finance adopts that model”
          =:-D

        • R2D2
          Oct 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm

          Yeah, that’s what they are shooting for; I had an interview with Netflix and they were telling me about how their engineers now can commit code 4, 5 times a day.

          Regression testing is done automatically when you use continuous integration, but as you said, this is madness. I enjoy coding, but I don’t want the company I work for to be the center of my universe.

          Next, companies will be sending Darth Vader to check on your progress, and you know what Darth Vader does to slackers :).

  11. Oct 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    I don’t doubt these stats’ accuracy, but it’s hard to tell. Unless you’ve got 40+ dudes that actually have the needed skills, that aren’t getting hired, this doesn’t necessarily mean age discrimination. Even of 20+ somethings are getting hired in favor of 40+ somethings, it’s not an age issue, it’s a salary issue. I don’t have stats for other industries, but I’ll bet there are a few where 50+ employees are valued more because of their experience. But as one poster mentioned above, tech is one field where time on the job is rarely equal to skills, as new tech is always being invented. To really know you’d have to compare apples to apples (not completely dissimilar to the women vs. men salaries argument).

  12. R Davis
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:56 am

    You believe the baby boom theory ?

    Silicon Valley’s Youth obsession amounts to this – people under 35 are the people who make change happen – people over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.
    On the practical side – not only is there no age at which humans are performing at peak on all cognitive tasks – there may not be an age at which humans perform at peak on most cognitive tasks.
    It behooves us to recognize the existence of multiple – co-existing intelligence – each with it’s own individual life cycle – it helps to explain why personal renaissances arrive later in life.
    Humans learn survival skills & what passes for intellectual capacity could be in fact – a cleverness at performing.
    There needs to be a compulsory retirement age at 60 years. Many older workers & especially in supervisory – upper management positions & the like – utilize their young staffers intellectual capacity & take the credit – for cognitive skills & work effort & achievements that is not theirs.
    This is called being crafty & not fit for the job.

    • Kent
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Youth don’t have shiny, new, great ideas at a level greater than their elders. What they have is no aversion to risk and a credulous attitude toward bad ideas due to a lack of experience.

      When you’re 45, you have to make a mortgage payment. You have to be well-along planning for your children’s education and future. And you have to be on task with planning for your own retirement. You need stability to plan for the future. When you’re 25, you don’t worry about the future. The future is tomorrow. Stability is not a concern because you haven’t actually reached adulthood yet.

      And the steaming pile of absolute garbage coming out of Silicon Valley over the last 10 years is an absolute sign that youth don’t know the difference between good ideas and massive economic losses.

    • Justme
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:33 am

      >>Many older workers & especially in supervisory – upper management positions & the like – utilize their young staffers intellectual capacity & take the credit – for cognitive skills & work effort & achievements that is not theirs.

      Many young staffers are every bit as predatory as older supervisors. Not to mention young whippersnapper supervisors. By the way, one operational definition of a supervisor/manager is “a person that takes the credit of the persons under their supervision”.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Oct 3, 2017 at 1:00 am

      R Davis – Millions can’t afford to retire at 60. You’d end up with (even larger) legions of old, homeless people on the streets.

  13. ru82
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:31 am

    Lots of big companies choose people to lay off not only because of age but because of the size of their families. I say that because I saw the layoff headcount of of a team of 20 people at a company I worked.

    50% were laid off. Every person laid off was from the ages of 30 to 45 and had children. The 10 people they kept were ages 25 to 35 and non of them had children. Almost all were single too. They also kept a 60 year old empty Nester who had no children to support anymore.

    The people laid off were more qualified but also probably carried higher salaries but not that much. I am guessing most of the expenses being cut were related to health care for the children.

    • william
      Oct 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      People with children may also make a bigger effort to insist on higher salaries, or move into positions with higher pay.

    • RM
      Oct 3, 2017 at 11:19 am

      I know from my own time in management that it’s hard to get an honest day’s work out of people with children. They want to come in late, take extra-long lunches, leave early, not work nights, weekends or holidays, because they have children to attend to. I’ve had employees walk out of bona fide emergency situations defiantly saying “I gotta go pick up my kids.” The child-less employers end up carrying the load.

  14. John Taylor
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:33 am

    I’m 38, and I’ve seen a substantial shift of how hiring works since 2009. A large part of it is simply because of the enormous amount of industry consolidation and the reduction of small firms and start-ups … an inevitable result of easy money for large corporations combined with tight money for small business, though there are other factors.
    Big corporations tend to favor hiring new grads over anyone else. Skills aren’t as relevant as the idea that new grads knowledge is fresh, and more importantly the idea that new grads are easier to predict and mold into corporate culture with a large centrally driven HR framework that has a one-size fits all approach.

    Small business needs people with skills and that used to be where experienced people 30-50 could get a chance at a decent job. Heck, I’ve got a bachelors in mechanical engineering, a certificate in navy nuclear power, and a masters in finance & entrepreneurship. Most of that lost its value after graduating in a tough job market in 2010. After contract work, temp jobs, and a failed business I finally landed a decent job with a small business – estimating tile.

    A small business will often value experience and take anyone who can do the work, big beaurocracies will almost always favor the more predictable new grad over anyone older.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Oct 3, 2017 at 1:05 am

      John Taylor (Tiler?) – Estimating tile …. sheesh.

      There are a lot of odd jobs out there truth be known. Insurance adjuster. Auto parts distribution. Help desk. Estimators for all kinds of home-improvement things, like tile but also roofing, painting, you-name-it.

      There are driving jobs, if you’ve got the eyesight. There are courier jobs. Public transit needs drivers but they also need all kinds of other workers too. Same situation for railroads.

      College sure doesn’t guarantee a better job than a HS dropout can get, does it?

      • Rejected By Target
        Oct 3, 2017 at 9:50 am

        Don’t know if you’re familiar with Elizabeth White of “55, Unemployed, and Faking Normal” fame (tl;dr she’s got advanced degrees from Harvard and Johns Hopkins and worked at the World Bank…is now “unemployable”), in her recent TED talk she reiterates the theme that anyone in her situation must “get off [your] throne” and take anything you can get now because the “normal” we knew is gone and is never coming back. Depressing but accurate… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFpQ5N_ttNQ

        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
          Oct 4, 2017 at 5:55 am

          Just watched it. That’s epic. It’s gotta be hard for those who were truly middle class.

          My family’s middle-class’edness was down the drain before I entered puberty. By the time I was in my teens I was ready to do any kind of work and when I entered the workforce proper as a legal adult this was put to the test. I retrieved rotted dead rats. I polished supermarket floors at 2AM. I washed horribly filthy dogs, and cats, and put in tons of time behind a mop.

          One thing about being white and working class is it’s drilled into you – and codified into law – that no one owes you anything. Not your own parents, not society, not anyone. There are no reparations for us.

          Again, it’s gotta be hard for those who were truly middle-class; who never fished and foraged to eat when they were kids.

  15. ian
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:57 am

    If workers get better with age (normal) but their pay and prospects do not then it means that the industry is putting costs before quality. This aligns with the tech mindset of getting products out there before they are ready and tested properly. ‘First to market’ whatever the consequences. Have you seen the latest version of Skype? It’s a dog’s breakfast. I have been forced to use messenger even though I hate FB.

    • Jeremy
      Oct 2, 2017 at 8:14 am

      That’s unfortunately because Microsoft is in the process of phasing out Skype. They’ve got a new product that is part of Office 360.

  16. Jeremy
    Oct 2, 2017 at 3:20 am

    A big chunk of a programmer’s job is NOT writing code, but rather communicating with other people (team, management, customers etc). This part of the job takes maturity (hence “team lead” jobs likely skew a bit older than the median).

    There are likely a number of factors that result in lower numbers of older tech workers though:

    1. It’s a relatively new field. In the 70s and 80s, tech was much smaller. People tend to start at a young age, rather than drift into the field later on, so there simply were fewer people in the (now) older age brackets to start with. We’ll know if this assumption is true in a couple of decades.

    2. A portion of programmers “graduate” into management over time.

    3. A portion of programmers grow bored with the work over time, and move out into other professions (honestly, as one gets older, people problems tend to become more interesting than technical ones).

    4. There’s a huge difference between established tech firms (Microsoft, say, or the banking and insurance industry), and startups. The established firms have a stronger tendency to hire based on HR. Startups generally have an informal process, and tend to hire people in their networks (i.e. friends from college, friends of friends etc). This factor alone makes the startup world skew younger.

    5. The changes in technology platforms over time (as mentioned in other comments above) can leave some older programmers stranded. It isn’t necessarily the case (I’ve met some remarkably versatile nonagenarians), but people sometimes find it harder to pick up new platforms when they’ve been working on a specific set for many years.

    6. Actual age discrimination. Some of which could well be unconscious. People don’t always understand their own biases. Which is why companies need solid HR departments.

    • junior_kai
      Oct 2, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Excellent post which echoes my 24 years experience. Explored management, didnt feel I was compensated for the many hours traveling, presenting, etc. and saw that older tech guys – what few there were – had carved out nice niches for themselves and went that route, taking every task I could along the way to get a very broad range of knowledge. I also saw in the late 90s the push by Microsoft and others to bring in H1Bs and figured I shouldnt expect to be in tech much past 40 and saved for a rainy day which allowed me to weather a couple brief periods of unemployment and be more choosy about the work I take.

      The point about being good at communication is huge – especially for older tech folks, you need to offer value across the skill spectrum to an employer – be articulate, creative, etc.

      One additional data point I would add: Pre dot-com (2000), a lot of your software developers were not pure CS types but had physics, engineering, math backgrounds (myself included). So the knowledge base was a bit broader and of course software itself was a much smaller universe at the time. Now I see most of the younger developers are pure CS types who dont grok the physical parameters of a system theyre developing quite as well. Its inevitable as specialization is constantly increasing but I still see a lot of value going forward for those whose skills can span several fields of study.

  17. Mary
    Oct 2, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Irrespectively of performance, it seems too many people remain just coders well into their fifties. Don’t know why they expect to get paid more unless they can rise up to a level where they call the shots. In Singapore and HK (my hunting grounds since I left my Chicago suburb some 15 years back), most people in their forties figure out whether they will rise to the top management or need an exit plan, usually starting their own ventures. Staying put as a mid level manger is not an option for the 45+ here. Don’t know why the complaints and the entitlement. It really seems Asian work culture is the future and America is yet to catch up.

    • LouisDeLaSmart
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Based on what data to you claim that this is the correct path? What studies have you based these conclusions on? And specifically what advantages does that system provide and for whom?
      /
      And if people want to retire as “just coders”, it’s their choice. Also could change the “just coders” to “senior experienced programmers”, I would appreciate it.
      /
      It’s not entitlement to ask to be treated based on your performance and not your age.

      • Mary
        Oct 6, 2017 at 8:24 am

        Whoever pays the money determines the criteria for performers actually.
        Is the boss even older? Then probability it makes sense to think that the reason for being fired is not ageism.
        Is the boss younger? Probably you should reflect on how could he climb up the ladder there to be your boss?
        Instead of focussing to pleasing your boss, you are basking in the glory of self proclaimed perform. That IS an entitlement.
        Of pleasing the boss is too difficult, be your own boss, run your business.

    • mikey
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:46 am

      Well, I am one of them. I did become a manager but tired of flying endlessly around the country to meetings to drone through some slides and plan the next meeting so I transferred to R&D doing programming again. I am pretty antisocial and like to be myself analyzing problems.

      As for “declining promotion opportunities with age”, these promotions are just BS for the most part. In 1980 I had salary 18,000+overtime, even double time so I was making $50,000. Plus they were paying for me to get MBA. A one bedroom apartment was $300/month. The salary came with health insurance with no employee contribution and no deductibles. There appeared to be a pension plan which included free medical. At that time, the company would actually train you to be a programmer if you passed an aptitude test. You did not need a CS degree or even a degree at all.

      Today, that same apartment is $1,700/month. My income went up times 3. Pension disappeared gradually. Medical is $10K and seems to exclude most things but I need it anyway just to get the rates they negotiate. Otherwise, a $30 blood tests costs $1,500. I got two masters degrees and have to learn a new technology every couple months mostly by watching youtube videos on the weekend. I work much longer hours then I did in 1980 with way more stress and tighter deadlines but of course there is no overtime pay.

      Yes, I would have been a lot better off jumping to a Silicon Valley when it started but I already had kids, etc. That was a mistake on my part but I’m still pretty lucky. Just about everyone I started with got laid off. A few went to much better jobs in finance but most went to worse computer jobs or to work at home depot, walmart, substitute teacher, etc.

      Not saying this is better or worse but the reason it sucks now for most people (young or old) is supply > demand. Supply being the whole world where most people go to college for free and can retire once they save $100K.

      Yes, it’s spectacularly better for a few ten thousands of people with the tech IPO’s but that is due only to new technology and habits creating new opportunities. It could have happened without sending the previous programmers to wander the aisles at Home Depot.

  18. Paulo
    Oct 2, 2017 at 8:43 am

    It isn’t just the Tech industry, it is all organizations as far as I can see. I worked 17 years in the education sector after a lifetime in private industry. I have seen many excellent prospects discounted due to inept senior mgt teams doing the hiring. They had a narrow criteria for what they called ‘educational leadership’ skills. However, digging down it really meant they were looking for people who did what they were told, and for those who were most likely not to try and innovate or think independently apart from those above them in the hiarchy. It was pretty obvious.

    In small companies, opportunity usually rested upon if the boss liked you or not. You had to be like the boss/owner. Rare is the instance of excellence rising to the top.

    The absolute best supervisor I ever had was a quiet unassuming fellow who listened to his staff, and asked them what they needed to do their jobs, or do a better job? This is in direct contrast to most supervisors who seem to think they know everything about your job, and what you need to do in order to do it better.

    I have a masters degree in Leadership/Training from a prestigious Cdn university. By the time I finished my degree I understood that real leadership has nothing to do with titles, renumeration, or job descriptions. Often, the real leaders in an organization are in the regular workforce. The phrase that comes to mind is ‘leadership from behind’. It brings to mind a non-com leader in the military actually leading the soldiers, and working as an intermediary between ‘supposed’ leadership/officers and the rest. In fact, their very lives depended upon it. It is the same in all organizations.

    Think of a typical workplace. There is decades and decades of wisdom and experience on the ‘shop floor’ as opposed to what might reside in the front office. It is just the way it is. Life/Work isn’t fair, just, or equal in opportunity or renumeration. The starkest example of this is a gaze at political leadership/appointees in any country, and then contrast it with the skilled and knowledgeable service sector that keep everything working and under control despite the chaos and misdirection. Plus, don’t forget about the Peter Principle at work. I am sure it is rampant in Tech as well as every sector. Why would Tech be any different?
    A snippet from Investepedia: “For example, an employee who is very good at following rules or company policies may be promoted into the position of creating rules or policies, despite the fact that being a good rule follower does not mean that an individual is well-suited to be a good rule creator.”

    Read more: Peter Principle http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/peter-principle.asp#ixzz4uMGLszYV

    • Justme
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:24 am

      >>You had to be like the boss/owner.

      Or maybe you would have to be (a younger version of) what the Boss/owner THINKS he is, rather than what he actually is.

    • Kent
      Oct 2, 2017 at 9:41 am

      My experience as someone who has been in management for 15 years now and who’s made his fair share of mistakes:

      1. When people tell you that your great idea is not that great. Listen to them. They are not necessarily old guys (or gals) who don’t want to change, but maybe someone who has tried your idea and knows why it won’t work. Experience matters.

      2. If upper management is hiring outside, it means that they don’t have confidence in the internal team. If they don’t have confidence, then they don’t know how to fix it themselves. Which also means that they don’t know who to hire to fix it. So hiring an outsider will be a losing proposition.

      3. Upper management is only about hiring quality people and getting rid of non-quality people. And in tech, it may take a year to figure out if someone is really quality or not. So you have to be very careful in your hiring. Hiring youth only means that you have more money than sense. And you would be surprised how many folks have more money than sense.

      • cdr
        Oct 2, 2017 at 11:58 am

        I only remember technology techies as some of the most rigid thinkers and most passive aggressive or worse people I have ever met with programmers being the worst and incompetent project managers coming in 2nd. Some would band together and try to ruin your career if you disagreed with them too much or used techniques they did not use. I am truly glad I am no longer around them and only occasionally have to bang heads with some on internet forums if I need some info.

    • Oct 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      I had an uncle who made a lot of money as an efficiency expert in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

      When he was hired by a large manufacturing company, he would just spend a few weeks finding the really smart workers. He would ask each one what changes would make their jobs easier and then have those changes implemented. This was an iterative process that would last a month or two.

      When he was finished, the manufacturing process would be much more efficient and my uncle would collect his money. He was getting paid to do what the company very easily could have done itself if it had bothered to listen to those actually doing the work.

      I had a friend who was an Oracle database consultant. Oracle has several teams of PHDs who do nothing but optimize database performance. It’s possible to override the default settings and change the optimization parameters if you really know what you’re doing and have an unusual data set.

      Companies would hire arrogant Oracle DBAs who would manage to get the database optimization screwed up and really kill the performance. My friend would come in and make a show of measuring performance and checking configuration parameters. After a couple of weeks of this, he would just reset everything to the Oracle defaults. The database performance would be dramatically improved and he would collect his money.

  19. LouisDeLaSmart
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:09 am

    The short term benefits of such actions are obvious and immediate, the long term consequences – terrible. (personal experience)
    /
    1) Bosses age matches those of workers…as does the pay. The boss is unable to celebrate your victory as his own, and perceives you as a threat creating inner friction. You wouldn’t believe how many projects died this way.
    /
    2) No one to learn from…the young engineer has no guidance, follows the pack and learns from her/his mistakes. Mistakes cost the employee valuable time, cause considerable stress and slow down operation thereby increasing overall cost.
    /
    3) Unrestrained energy goes and scatters into unnecessary projects. There is no “experience buffer” to bounce of an idea to. It would be a considerable advantage to understand the project’s value, relevance, impact and political implications prior to starting the project.
    /
    4) Over-burn by young managers that do not know how to prioritize (lack of integrity role-models). Without filter the manager hands down unnecessary tasks and consistently requires immediate action…Suddenly everything becomes urgent, and all you do is firefight. No deep meaningful long term solution is pursued.
    /
    5) Inability to plan and organize due to lack of experience. Foresight is a skill gained by living through multiple project “cycles”. Understanding funding and staffing requirements at each part is truly a mission critical ability.
    /
    6) At time in critical moments, the room ignites. Well, now there is no one with enough authority to calm the masses in the room. Issues become personal, making it a lot harder to get stuff done.
    /
    7) And most important, how to say “no” to your boss.
    /
    Here I would like to say thank you to all the “excessive oldies” that helped me become who I am today, professionally and personally.
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////
    I’ll let the numbers talk about the age discrimination issue.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2016/06/intel_layoffs_skew_older_spotl.html
    http://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/index.ssf/2015/08/intel_layoffs_by_the_numbers_h.html

  20. Matt P
    Oct 2, 2017 at 10:43 am

    It’s not age discrimination, it’s salary discrimination. Older tech guys are cheap and want to have a life, so why hire them when you can bring in h1b slaves or fresh brainwashed college grads who think it’s cool to work 80 hour weeks and dream about code allfor half the salary or less?

    • Matt P
      Oct 2, 2017 at 10:46 am

      I meant to say older tech guys are expensive

  21. Citizen AllenM
    Oct 2, 2017 at 10:44 am

    The part I really find funny is so many people believe in rational markets, when irrational stuff like this is front and center.

    If older are more productive and more stable, then hiring them should be the first priority of a good organization- after all if talent is available cheap, why is it being overlooked?

    Tech has a young, hip, and cool problem, along with the idea that super working long hours translates into more productivity. Wall street suffers from the same delusions, and has the same hiring problems.

    In short, America is managed poorly, and that is the real problem. Management at all levels seems to be so engaged in screwing with people, protecting rules, and covering their butts. In short, short term thinking rules America, and with that comes a disaster prone mindset.

    More and more, inefficiency is obvious, yet solutions can only come out of the c-suite, and at a snail’s pace. And then they are so out of touch it really doesn’t matter.

    Add in managers who invest in magical thinking instead of real tracking and change dynamics, and you get the usual muddled stew.

    The only sure thing about employment is that it will end.

    And careers are pretty much dead, and the importing of massive numbers of cheap programmers has pretty much destroyed the biz.

    Like everything else- after all, when was the last time you saw a real master carpenter out on a production house build?

    LoL- corporate America gets what they pay for, and the workforce they invest in and or spend down.

    Read the article on the surge work at Amazon warehouses, very interesting to see the older emphasis to fill the jobs.

    • Kent
      Oct 2, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Back in the ’70’s, American auto manufacturers were screaming for protectionism because the Japanese were using cheap Japanese labor to undercut pricing. Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda motors, moved production of the Accord, Civic and Goldwing motorcycle to the US. His effort was to show that it was the poor quality of American management, and not cheap Japanese labor (or poor quality American labor) that was the real problem.

    • Michael Fiorillo
      Oct 2, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Perhaps those long hours are not about productivity at all; perhaps they’re about maintaining control, conformity and “labor discipline,” with the ideal condition being that workers themselves internalize the boss’ desires, policing themselves and each other. it’s an organizational psychologist’s wet dream.

      Perhaps that accounts for the many stories I’ve heard of people having little or nothing left to do at work, yet fearful of being the first to leave the office.

  22. cdr
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:33 am

    There’s no such think as a perfect resume. Some are better than others. The real goal is to have what the reader wants to see. Unfortunately, you are not a mind reader and the mythical knowledgeable executive who knows the perfect resume does not exist.

    I remember hearing department managers snarking about resumes that were over one page because they think they heard a good resume is only one page. In the past, I sent out multi page resumes with high level details (not minutia) that got me jobs quick as a consultant. I only started seeing a slowdown in call-backs after I started following professional advice on content and layout.

    Some people you will interview with are good. Some are idiots. The idiots are still important decision makers.

    To get a job you need to know how to do the job and you also need to find a way to get into the heads of who you will meet for the interview. Good communication skills are also nice.

    • cdr
      Oct 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

      In general, assume a department manager is reading for content. Assume the screener is reading for presentation and might be annoyed if the content is not understandable by them. Some inexperienced department managers are reading for who knows what. Assume the manager needs someone to do the job and the screener is looking for a reason to ignore you.

      The actual game being played is ‘getting past the gate keeper’.

      • bev kennedy
        Oct 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm

        Very very true re screening and lower level clerical do this function. Scary

  23. Paid Minion
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Background: Almost 40 years fixing corporate jets (Cessna Citations, Dassault Falcons).

    Having just been “let go” (again) at age 60 (for nothing to do with my job performance), I’m finding (as I suspected) that the only “shortage” of aircraft mechanics are of experienced people willing to work for $15-20/hour.

    It makes one wonder why I don’t just “throw in the towel”, and deliver pizzas for Domino’s. How does one handle involuntary, early retirement, when the 401k might last 5-6 at best? Early implementation of the “cardboard box under the bridge” plan?

    To the d##kheads running the show, old guys like me have value only as “1099s”, who get brought in just long enough to fix other people’s eff-ups. Cleaning up other people’s messes gets old after a while. Not to mention the problems with actually getting paid, health insurance, and the fact that the local “contract rate” hasn’t changed in almost 20 years.

    Everybody I talk to in the industry talks about the screw ups, damaged airplanes, missed schedules, etc, because guys with as little as 4-6 years turning wrenches are being put in crew chief/supervisory positions.

    (Where does this “You don’t need to know how to do the job, to manage people doing the job” get taught in business school? Probably in the same class they teach “There’s no time/money to do it right, but there’s always time/money to do it over”)

    Wait until the SHTF on ADS-B next year. If the equipment isn’t installed by 1/1/2020, you will be grounded. There are all kinds of people who are already effed by this, and they don’t even know it yet.

    • Joe
      Oct 4, 2017 at 12:34 am

      Sell everything and move to Thailand. Not kidding. The islands are incredible, Bangkok is a glittering modern city, and you can have a luxury apartment with luxury amenities for well under $1000/month, even as a foreigner. Or something a bit more basic for $500. Health care is incredibly cheap and in many ways better than the average care in the US. Thai people are friendly and welcoming, and most of them speak English, some quite well.

  24. Quite Likely
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Seems like the fact of hiring discrimination is plenty to explain the increased incidence of “top performer” ratings among older tech workers. If there’s a prejudice against older workers in the sense of their needing to perform better to have the same chance of being hired, it makes sense that the older workers who did manage to get hired would be stars. It’s like how Jackie Robinson was such a great baseball player – the people from discriminated against groups who get hired anyway are hired because they’re just too good to pass up. If older workers were held to the same hiring standards as younger workers they’d probably have the same average performance, but because they’re apparently held to higher standards, they have higher average performance.

  25. Rejected By Target
    Oct 2, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Hoo boy, this topic definitely remains a sore spot for me.

    As Dan Lyons wrote last year when he published “Disrupted,” companies don’t even try to hide their “no old folks” hiring policies. Quite often I see job descriptions that say “we’re looking for a fresh young designer” or “the successful applicant will have grown up on digital.” Take a look at this banner, how many “old” people do you see in it, https://jobs.gartner.com/employee-spotlights

    How about this background image, http://careers.draftkings.com/

    When I began seeing a *maximum* “years of experience required” in job postings, I knew there was something wrong. The most common one you’ll see in my field is “two to four years of experience required,” so if you have five or more years, you’re disqualified for “too much experience” (which makes no sense to me, would you disqualify a mechanic or a surgeon for having “too much knowledge” about your car or your heart?), and also because you’re obviously over the age of 25.

    I was 46 when I became “unemployable” in the new economy (I just turned 50). Over 1,500 job applications, and, yes, that includes minimum wage shelf stocker at Target where I applied out of desperation (I only like to throw this experience out there for those who would cluelessly lecture me about how “well back in my day we applied and took any old job available” — newsflash, it’s not your day anymore, heck, it’s not even my day, anymore, either! I remember those days, and they’re GONE). I later learned Target generally doesn’t hire anyone over 35 (I’d estimate the age of the girl who “interviewed” me to be under 20). My LinkedIn network remains full of other “unemployables” over the age of 40 (including a systems analyst with a PhD and several structural engineers, not exactly “useless liberal arts majors” here). There was a PBS story a year or so ago about older people being kicked out of the job market (can’t find the link at the moment), the video there ended with one woman who asked borderline-hysterically if our life span is expected to reach 100 and the plan is to kick everyone over 50 out of the workforce, just what the hell are we supposed to do for the next 50 years…I’m still wondering the answer to this question.

    • Lee
      Oct 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Save lots of money so that when you end up on the trash heap in your 50’s you have enough to last the rest of your life……………

      Welcome to the club.

  26. william
    Oct 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Engineers often tell me they want their children in a non-engineering profession. Yet, I remind them the highest paid 22 yr olds are engineers. It’s difficult to chart a path for your child.

    My teenagers tell me schools are convincing students only losers skip university, at a time when university is extremely expensive. And many adults don’t work in their original field of study, or work in a field not requiring a degree. Many families at my kids’ schools have parents flipping homes or working as realtors.

  27. Michael Fiorillo
    Oct 2, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Perhaps those long hours are not about productivity at all; perhaps they’re about maintaining control, conformity and “labor discipline,” with the ideal condition being that workers themselves internalize the boss’ desires, policing themselves and each other. it’s an organizational psychologist’s wet dream.

    Perhaps that accounts for the many stories I’ve heard of people having little or nothing left to do at work, yet fearful of being the first to leave the office.

  28. uuu
    Oct 2, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Wow, great comment thread. Not much to add really to all that is said. Maybe that it’s a side effect of the ever-worsening short-term-ism in management.

    As a 37-year old jack-of-all-trades engineer (ME, EE, fluid+gas, embedded code, applications), my career is pretty much committed to small companies and hence unusual, but I see this pattern it with the so-called stars of the local economy. You know, the ones that get VC funding. It’s workers in the mid-20s, management mid 30s, one or two guys at the very top in their 40s/50s.

    IMO, the motivation for such a structure is more for “team cohesion” and “ability to shape the company culture”, not just savings on salary. You can take those as euphemisms for cultivating a group mentality where people work long hours, don’t ask too many questions, and impress the VC’s with whatever wannabe google-campus styling they put up for looks.

    A truly healthy environment needs the full spectrum of ages, across job functions (including young and old managers, young and old tech guys). I guess this is rare now.

    BTW there is probably some truth to being more reluctant to leap into the buzzword-tech-du-jour – when you can leverage your experience with a 15-year-old tool…

  29. Dave
    Oct 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    CGI, Canada’s largest I.T. company, and one of the world’s biggest, just laid off 1,600 workers 2 weeks ago. They were given 6 months “working notice” and told that to receive the remainder of their severance payment (their total severance minus the 6 months worth), the had to train their young replacements in India.

    My division in Toronto was particularly hit hard and every single worker was over the age of 50. This included many people currently working billable hours at client sites. The guys in India do not know our business, the industry (insurance), the combination of technologies of the clients, etc…

    We are not some new, VC financed silicon valley startup, but a company using some cutting edge stuff to help bring a very old, but important financial industry into the 21st century.

    This is nothing more than a combination of age discrimination and bigotry against middle class Canadian tech workers.

    • bev kennedy
      Oct 2, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      So much for the liberals support for the middle class. And for seniors
      This is legally allowed just as is plundering of. Sears and NORTEL and many others employee pension plans for bankruptcy proceedings
      Similar happened with royal banks cost cutting and shift to oversees

      • Ed
        Oct 2, 2017 at 8:49 pm

        It’s a wonder to me that the law allows companies to systematically underfund their pensions. They pay the money out as dividends and executive compensation for YEARS, then they cop out when it comes time to pay their pensioners.

        Where’s the regulator?

        • bev kennedy
          Oct 2, 2017 at 9:25 pm

          And that is another good question. In banking financial arena to take one example. The fcac overseeing schedule one banks delegates these duties down to the provinces and territories like osc etc who then delegate over to the industry funded entities like iiroc and obsi even though they know from their own audits of serious deficiencies in how these parties handle these same issues re investor redress and protection. The fcac has also inked a similar MOU with IIROC. IIROC has also proclaimed that it doesn’t restore retail consumers or investors to wholeness (and we are talking billions of life savings exposed to this oversight mess. And the obsi even if it identifies the violation. A big if lacks the enforcement teeth to insist on repayment. At the best maybe a lowball “settlement”. So the further away from the crown and the original statutes the less the fit between these entities and what the statutes had in mind. It actually is a form of outsourcing and spares the government’s wallets. At cost to consumers wallets and redress. I would suggest you will find a similar forensic trail re outsourcing of jobs and cash grabs of employees pensions ditto for retirees. The older the consumer or employee the less likely they are to be able to mitigate the harm. And fairy dust is thrown in the electorate faces to obscure what is really happening

      • P Walker
        Oct 3, 2017 at 6:33 pm

        Personally, I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the plight of the middle class. As if it’s suddenly the priority of governments to make sure the ‘middle class’ doesn’t end up in the ‘poverty’ class the powers that be have destined for all of us.

        • bev kennedy
          Oct 3, 2017 at 6:46 pm

          I am actually much more concerned about seniors. However despite their platform of supporting the middle class and in a separate breathe we care about seniors too….what has happened?

        • bev kennedy
          Oct 3, 2017 at 6:52 pm

          If you poke and prod you will discover that the liberals don’t really know how to define middle class. But it catches the widest potential broadband of voters including aspirational. You don’t here much about blue collar these days either. There is a very interesting article in the. Toronto star today on the difference between surviving and thriving. And the author points out that the proposed minimum wage hike would have to double for this to happen. For those whose pensions have been gutted and who are elderly it is too late. Further Ontario is the only province to have any kind of insurance for what is happening with sears. And even then consider the difference between surviving and thriving. You will find the study as well on the. Wellesly institutes website

        • bev kennedy
          Oct 3, 2017 at 6:54 pm

          My point as well re where the rest of us. The most of us are heading

  30. Ed
    Oct 2, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    I think age bias, to the degree it is a problem, is mainly a problem in hiring.

    Young people do a lot of the interviewing in newer companies and they know that the older guys are more expensive. At the same time, they may not fully appreciate the value of experience, which means they see a big cost/benefit numerator but fail to credit the size of the denominator. It’s ironic that a young guy’s lack of experience makes him prone to underestimate the value of experience, no? Mainly you avoid costly mistakes and re-inventing the wheel again and again.

  31. Cynic
    Oct 3, 2017 at 3:58 am

    Fascinating comments, which have led me to feel more than happy about my choices in life, which I have often had to defend: graduate of the 3rd-ranking university in the world, I ‘wasted’ that – after some years in the corporate world (I heartily endorse all the comments on that poisoned and often irrational environment) – by becoming skilled in a craft some 2,000 years old, and often use tools made one or two centuries ago.

    I learnt from a – great – man who was about 80, and told me that even he didn’t yet know everything, and that the craft is always interesting. ‘because perfection is unattainable.’ How right he was.

    I work with rare things, and make them sound and, often, beautiful. I am respected and most importantly trusted by my customers. I make all the decisions, and if I like the customer will always slip in extra work for free – as taught by the old craftsman.

    Every job is a pleasure, and that is worth more than prospects, (I have none in the conventional sense) social esteem or that nebulous entity ‘money in the bank’. Pensions? They aren’t really go to be around for anyone fairly soon and are not worth consideration when planning how to live – when you can’t work or keep yourself, it’s time to go.

    The only material thing worth striving for is a paid-off home, and I have that, and thank God for it. It is far below the level of what someone from my background is meant to have, but it no banker has a claim on it.

    And I answer to nomanager, don’t have to face corporate politics (I saw enough) and if I go down, it will be for market reasons, not the caprice of someone with power over me, and it will have been worth all the satisfaction of having done some good work in my life, with tangible results – in fact, preserving the work of other good craftsmen who died long ago.

    I will not go down because I was cut by a company that never cared for me in the first place. What I saw of corporate behaviour sickened me, when I failed to laugh at the rituals and irrationality.

    In short, human dignity.

    And plenty of time to spend with the bird dog in the woods.

  32. bev kennedy
    Oct 3, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    If you check human rights law in Canada Class isn’t a ground for complaint but there certainly are other grounds including age. And discrimination can have serious socio economic negative impact
    My sense is “middle class” is to appeal to the widest potential band of voters nothing more now. Worth reading the latest wellesly institutes study on the difference between scrapping by and thriving and the income benchmarks. Our planners are woefully behind the curve

  33. brad
    Oct 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Im a 54 year old tech manager in the valley.
    This is how my manager opened his staff meeting a few days ago.

    “All of you have heard the saying 70 is the new 40?”.
    Everyone shakes their head yes. He then says:
    “In Silicon Valley 40 is the new 70”.

    Pretty much sums it up.

  34. Sanity Canoe
    Oct 4, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Lots of fun and games how younger is better – not age and experience as once upon a time. There isn’t much rationality in the corporate world where trends and fashion hold sway. The latest buzzwords like the 6 sigma system or something equally ridiculous involving spurious mathematics or pyschobabble pretension. Corporate life is all about normalcy bias and fitting in with the curve.

    As for the technical excellence and creativity of a good programmer, it’s underrated. The pay can still be halfway decent though. I guess people stick it out for the bucks.

  35. Oct 4, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Got retired from big tech at 49. Luckily I am frugal and saved a lot of money. Spent my time learning new popular skills to try to get a different job in a different field. Had a blast learning new things, as I always do. But I rarely got a phone screen.

    So I took my new skills and spent time entering freelancer contests. On these sites they can’t tell how old or young you are, all that’s visible is the work you submit and how you communicate. The few times I’ve won contests it’s always led to more work and the employers seem to be very excited to be talking to someone who offers quality solutions instead of just delivering exactly what they asked for (which was never fully thought through).

    I still have my resume on the job boards, and I get a few calls each week from tech recruiters who have no idea what they are really looking for (else how could they have possible called me when I lack so many of the skills they seek). A few sound promising, none ever pans out.

    I conclude that to survive I will have to chart my own independent course. Might as well have fun doing it.

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