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Programming IT

Slashdot Asks: Have You Experienced Ageism? (observer.com) 561

Friday the Huffington Post wrote that "Ageism runs rampant through Silicon Valley, where older workers are frequently overlooked for jobs." They ran tips from the man who recruited Tim Cook for Apple, who pointed out that it's difficult and expensive to recruit new talent, urging businesses to "stop seeing workforce diversity as a good deed; it's good business." And earlier this month The Observer ran an article by Dan Lyons, a writer for HBO's "Silicon Valley," who shared his perspective on ageism from his time at HubSpot. Their CEO actively cultivated an age imbalance, bragging that he was "trying to build a culture specifically to attract and retain Gen Y'ers," because, "in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated."

Meanwhile, Slashdot reader OffTheLip writes: Information technology is a young business in comparison to many other industries but one of the few where older workers are not valued for their institutional knowledge... As a recently retired techie I experienced this firsthand, both as an older worker, and earlier in my career [as] one who didn't see the value in older workers. As Lyons states, older workers are good business.
What are your thoughts? And have you experienced ageism?
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Slashdot Asks: Have You Experienced Ageism?

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  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:36PM (#51978785)

    With the amount of angry whitebeards inhabiting /., we can expect a totally calm and reasonable discussion of the topic.

    • Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:43PM (#51978829)

      I have hired over-40 programmers who were rockstars, and some over-40 workers who just could not deliver.

      Age is just one variable among many, but people obsess over it because it is easier to ballpark someone's age in an interview than it is to get a read on other indicators of talent.

      The biggest problem is that over-40 workers are universally more expensive than the 20's workers. They all want to jump in at the senior level, and feel justified in this based on their experience. This makes them a bigger risk to take, and ultimately more expensive if they don't pan out.

      On the other hand, too much investment in kids results in software that works upfront but absolutely does not scale, and winds up full of ticking time bombs.

      • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:46PM (#51979151)

        On the other hand, too much investment in kids results in software that works upfront but absolutely does not scale, and winds up full of ticking time bombs.

        omfg... THIS

      • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @05:32PM (#51979375)

        Who wants to hire a rock star? I want to hire someone who can do the job, and the job doesn't involve preening and prancing and ego.

        • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @06:42PM (#51979735)

          My general experience is that the older, experienced programmers are exactly those who don't preen and prance and have egos. They just know how to get the job done. Meanwhile, the 20 somethings are all busy trying to prove themselves better than each other.

          • Re:Maybe. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by geek ( 5680 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @08:24PM (#51980127)

            My general experience is that the older, experienced programmers are exactly those who don't preen and prance and have egos. They just know how to get the job done. Meanwhile, the 20 somethings are all busy trying to prove themselves better than each other.

            We have very different experiences. Where I work 90% of the people are 45-55 years old. I'm not yet 40. Sitting and listening to them is painful. They spend hours talking about the good ole days and how cool they were. One guy literally comes in at 7am every day and does nothing but talk with the gang until about 10am. I think in an average day he does 2-3 hours of work even though he likes to be present until 5-6pm. He and some of the others there think that because they are there for 10-12 hours a day somehow they are worth the money, even though they dont do shit the entire time.

            I work circles around these people. One of them has spent, literally, the last 14 months trying to decide what the right tool is for our department. I got sick of waiting on him and implemented a collection of open sources tools with some glue code just so I could get some damned work done. He ignores this and goes into every conversation as if it doesn't exist. Because he's the senior guy, everyone takes their lead from him. So they're all waiting on a solution while I get the job done. Yes I am extremely bitter about it.

            I got more done last week than most of these guys will get done in a month or longer. They have been set in their ways for the last couple of decades. They don't do anything until some suit tells them to, despite our new CIO telling people they need to be making decisions themselves. When they do decide to work on something they bitch the entire time as if we're all putting them out by asking them to actually do their job. They sit and decry all the new tools and software because it's not WinXP and NT4.

            Certainly not everyone over 50 is like this. I know I won't be. But all too often when you see someone in a technical role in their 50's it's because they couldn't move up or because their attitudes had them shuffled from job to job and they couldn't build relationships and network they way they should have.

            Hell even Linus Torvalds has moved on from a technical role into a more managerial one. Yes he is still technical but he's moved beyond being a code monkey.

            • This has been my experience as well.

              Most of their processes are 2 decades old, and when they came up with them they were new and fancy. I'm this close to just replacing them with a Python script. A lot of engineering is still old and boring stuff. 20 years ago the 'hot new' fancy way to do something was write a VBA script in Excel. And for the last 20 years they've been resting on that. But the world has changed. I'd rather just have Python scrape a supplier's website for prices (or interface with their API

              • Re:Maybe. (Score:4, Informative)

                by anonymous_echidna ( 1019960 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @11:01PM (#51980583)
                I guess we all have different experiences. At 50+ myself, I'll use VBA when I have to, but most of the time you will see me code in Python, or R if that's the better fit. The people in my circles have been dabbling with Python since version 1.0. As for web-scraping data: I didn't even associate that with younger people.
            • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Shawn Willden ( 2914343 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @09:22PM (#51980247)

              But all too often when you see someone in a technical role in their 50's it's because they couldn't move up or because their attitudes had them shuffled from job to job and they couldn't build relationships and network they way they should have.

              Keep in mind that this is context-dependent. Some (mostly larger) companies have sufficient need for senior technical people that there opportunities for people to have full, purely-technical careers without ever moving into management. In other cases, senior engineers that don't want to manage go independent.

              I'm nearly 50, and have no intention of ever leaving a technical role. At my current employer (Google) there's no need for me to ever make that move. I hear you, though, I've run into my share of people who've just chosen to vegetate in place. They can be hard for management to dislodge.

              I work circles around these people. One of them has spent, literally, the last 14 months trying to decide what the right tool is for our department. I got sick of waiting on him and implemented a collection of open sources tools with some glue code just so I could get some damned work done.

              I just want to mention that this part of your story isn't very convincing to me. I don't know what sort of tool you're talking about, but depending on what it is and how it fits in, it may very well be fully worth taking two years to select something, and your hacked-together assemblage of components may be a really bad idea. What I'm saying is that the other guy may be right and you may be wrong, and his greater perspective is what allows him to see that your approach isn't good.

              Or maybe not. I'm not judging, just pointing out that it's not impossible that you're misjudging.

              • Re:Maybe. (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday April 25, 2016 @07:59AM (#51981615)

                > One of them has spent, literally, the last 14 months trying to decide what the right tool is for our department

                >> , it may very well be fully worth taking two years to select something,

                This is almost _never_ the case. It's usually a sign of extensively overdesigning the solution, insisting that the single tool solve _all_ the problems. I've seen it happen repeatedly, with email systems, QA tools, clustering projects, and even physical architectures. By the time the decision is made and implemented, the problem will have changed and it will no longer be the perfect solution. And the investment in hacks to work with the old infrastructure will be so large that it creates _another_ round of evaluation to move off the old systems, which have to be maintained in place during the switchover.

                I've seen this type of over-extended planning, repeatedly, and it's painful.

                • by Kjella ( 173770 )

                  This is almost _never_ the case. It's usually a sign of extensively overdesigning the solution, insisting that the single tool solve _all_ the problems. I've seen it happen repeatedly, with email systems, QA tools, clustering projects, and even physical architectures. By the time the decision is made and implemented, the problem will have changed and it will no longer be the perfect solution. And the investment in hacks to work with the old infrastructure will be so large that it creates _another_ round of evaluation to move off the old systems, which have to be maintained in place during the switchover. I've seen this type of over-extended planning, repeatedly, and it's painful.

                  Yeah. However I've also seen projects fail because they didn't do enough planning, particularly:
                  a) What is the critical functionality that absolutely must be in place before the old system can be shut down?
                  and
                  b) Does the new system have limitations that mean you're eventually halfway down an implementation project hit a brick wall?

                  For example, there's nothing like half an accounting system. Either it works to do your accounting or it doesn't. If you get caught up in all the "nice to have" improvements, you

            • But all too often when you see someone in a technical role in their 50's it's because they couldn't move up

              Move up to where? Management?

              I'm just over 50 myself, and in the corporate networks group for a large public sector employer. I enjoy my job, I get to play with all the latest enterprise class geeky stuff and find that keeps my interest. I like that it is constantly evolving and we are always training on new things.

              Then I look at my managers, who don't really even make that much more money and ask w

      • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @06:15PM (#51979619) Journal

        Well, if you don't want to count experience, don't ask for the guy's employment history.

        If you want to know if there is ageism, just watch the first reaction when you walk into the office. The same thing applies to race. Watch one or two people flinch a little when a black person walks in. It won't necessarily a be conscious one, but it certainly can explain why the denials are so fierce. People are simply unaware.

        • Try not to look old. After I started coloring my hair, my offer-to-interview ratio went from somewhere around 0 to 40%. (It probably helps that I have oily skin, so my face looks middle-aged as long as there's no white hair showing.)

      • Re:Maybe. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hughbar ( 579555 ) on Monday April 25, 2016 @04:16AM (#51981137) Homepage
        Agree, I'm 65. I'm being offered work but I went back to university part-time, so I'm being careful what I take. A few random comments about older-working:
        • Ads are often skewed by language: 'passionate' and 'dynamic' as synonyms for very young
        • People pre-suppose that we want to be senior, I don't just want to code and (preferably) be paid
        • Niche skills help, I do Perl and I speak French
        • Flexibility helps, I do contract work and don't want permanent
        • Attitude helps, I'm still learning and still enjoying it

        Hope that helps. I think that people 'my age' can bring a lot to the party. One (unpopular) thing is looking at something and knowing it's stupid because I've seen it fail about fifty times already. Experience.

      • Re:Maybe. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jahta ( 1141213 ) on Monday April 25, 2016 @09:49AM (#51982147)

        I have hired over-40 programmers who were rockstars, and some over-40 workers who just could not deliver.

        Age is just one variable among many, but people obsess over it because it is easier to ballpark someone's age in an interview than it is to get a read on other indicators of talent.

        The biggest problem is that over-40 workers are universally more expensive than the 20's workers. They all want to jump in at the senior level, and feel justified in this based on their experience. This makes them a bigger risk to take, and ultimately more expensive if they don't pan out.

        On the other hand, too much investment in kids results in software that works upfront but absolutely does not scale, and winds up full of ticking time bombs.

        I think the money thing is a big issue alright. Apart from the knowledge and experience they bring, the over-40s have mortgages to pay and kids to put through college so working for entry level salaries is not an option. Like with offshoring, many employers assume that 3 cheap (but inexperienced) developers for the price of one expensive (but experienced) developer is a good deal. It isn't; it's a false economy.

        A couple other things I've seen. Employers who assume that the brain ossifies at 40 and that "old dogs" are incapable of learning new tricks. We aren't. I'm continually learning new skills. And then there are folks who are concerned about managing developers who are older and more experienced than they are [slashdot.org]. A bit of honesty and respect goes a long way; we've seen most "management du jour" fads and we know that most of them are BS.

        If you treat us greybeards right we can be surprisingly good value for money. :-)

  • Fight Back (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:37PM (#51978793)
    It's a shit deal for workers if you find yourself unable to find a job for something as stupid as age. And if "companies can be free to do what they want" is going to let them continue to get away with abusing workers - then they shouldn't feign surprise when those workers join together and fight back.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:38PM (#51978805)

    we all KNOW this is a problem.

    we all know h1b is a problem.

    but the place where it needs to be discussed - the national stage of public opinion, perhaps prompted by news coverage (crickets chirping sound heard) - it is NOT discussed. its swept under the rug.

    I'm in the bay area, I'm over 50 and I've been a sw/hw guy since my teens. I'm currently out of work, looking, and its been dead for months, for me, so far. this is typical and usual, sad to say, and I have a little more time left before I'm empty and near bankruptcy again. yet again. I don't know if I'll ever see reliable employment in tech ever again.

    I have tons of experience and a great resume. but I'm older, white, male, independant and aware of management's BS; and I guess ALL of that is out of favor for hiring prospects.

    I really wish this was made more visible to non-geeks. taking to geeks is not useful, about this, as we all know about it already.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sgt_doom ( 655561 )
      Every single time there's a blog posting like this, we see this same exact response, different signon, same bullcrap! Only a complete idiot would accept this drivel. Of course they only hire younger and younger as they increasingly offshore jobs, replace American workers with foreign visa replacement workers (whether tech, science R&D, engineering or when Thai farm workers were flow in to replace the newly laid off American and undocumented farm workers in the states of Washington, California and Hawa
    • The trend is towards not seeing reliable employment in any industry. Tech is just a bellwether. It may be time to consider cutting loose while you still have a few resources left and picking up stakes to some place that's a lot cheaper. Hunkering down may not be a long term solution, but it IS less stressful.
      • The trend is towards not seeing reliable employment in any industry. Tech is just a bellwether.

        No, you need to get a reality check. Unemployment in tech is much lower than the national average (2.9% vs 5.1%), and tech job tenure is higher than average. There is no evidence that employment is becoming less reliable. Average job tenure in America today is higher than it was 30 years ago.

        • You should read the comments under this article. And if you believe the official labor stats and that it's possible to make a valid comparison with 30 years ago, you're a trusting soul - the way that the stats are compiled and who's included and who's not have changed many times in 30 years.
    • I'm in the bay area... I'm over 50 and I've been a sw/hw guy since my teens. I'm currently out of work

      Get a grip on reality - that is to say, you are NOT LIVING IN IT.

      Move anywhere outside and you can find work, and a good life...

      The "Bay Area" is an aberration that wrongly colors of discussions around issues. It's a reason why theres such a furor over diversity in tech hiring, because the "Bay Area" is filled with a lot more drama than you will find in any workplace outside.

      That said even in the "Bay Area

      • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @06:32PM (#51979701) Homepage

        the "Bay Area" is filled with a lot more drama than you will find in any workplace outside.

        I live outside the Bay Area and experienced the exact same thing when I hit my mid-40s. Anyone who denies ageism is a factor in tech is either naive or part of the problem.

        Ending the H1-B program completely might not solve the problem but it would be a good first step. Sure, companies would still outsource but that's a real pain the ass compared to having a galley slave right on site. After companies pay a couple times for untangling Bangalore Spaghetti Code that comes in late and doesn't run right they get a lot more practical.

    • we all KNOW this is a problem.

      we all know h1b is a problem.

      but the place where it needs to be discussed - the national stage of public opinion, perhaps prompted by news coverage (crickets chirping sound heard) - it is NOT discussed. its swept under the rug.

      I'm in the bay area, I'm over 50 and I've been a sw/hw guy since my teens. I'm currently out of work, looking, and its been dead for months, for me, so far. this is typical and usual, sad to say, and I have a little more time left before I'm empty and near bankruptcy again. yet again. I don't know if I'll ever see reliable employment in tech ever again.

      I have tons of experience and a great resume. but I'm older, white, male, independant and aware of management's BS; and I guess ALL of that is out of favor for hiring prospects.

      I really wish this was made more visible to non-geeks. taking to geeks is not useful, about this, as we all know about it already.

      My story exactly.

      Just under 40 years' paid Embedded Dev. Experience. HUGE resume (left out 90% of experience to get it to two pages). Laid off in January 2009. Posted said resume everywhere. Crickets. Actually, I STILL get headhunter calls every single week; but they are ALL horrible little short-term contract jobs halfway across the country, or more...

      If I hadn't had an ex coworker help handshake me into a job writing hideous Windows ERP s/w JUST in the nick of time, plus having no house payment (house

    • we all KNOW this is a problem.

      I really wish this was made more visible to non-geeks. taking to geeks is not useful, about this, as we all know about it already.

      No we don't. Lets look at another field that's not computer science / coding / programming: Engineering.

      Everything that the coders here are complaining about I've heard in Engineering but when I drill down to who is having the problems it's a particular set of people.

      An engineer turning 60 this year would have graduated in ~'78. CAD wouldn't have taken off like it has now. I know managers with PhDs who are highly intelligent but moved out of actual engineering refusing to learn CAD. They insisted they didn'

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:42PM (#51978819)

    While I'm sure some small number of companies may in fact try to hire a younger crowd, why would I want to work there anyway? A big part of the reason a company is usually doing that is either to pay less or work people much more, or a combination of both...

    The large majority of companies I've seen have older workers, are totally fine with middle age and older technical staff. So a few companies who take age into account do not hurt job prospects.

    A big pat of success for me personally has been keeping ahead of technical trends, and making sure not to fall into some pit of technology you cannot escape from and do not enjoy. if you enjoy technical work the keeping up to date is fun and the enthusiasm for your work shows. It also helps a lot to respect co-workers and be someone others enjoy working with, instead of just tolerating.

    Another reason why it should be LESS hard as an older worker to find work is the connections and friends you make over the years. That's by far the best way to find jobs anyway, and building up good connections over years is less hard for traditionally more withdrawn technical people than cold-starting a relationship with someone in a company you are trying to hire into.

    • Do you really want your friends in your social life to be the nerds and geeks you work with? I'm not THAT dysfunctional to think any good can come from that.

      Business today does hiring based on money. When they can get two newbs for the price of one experienced person, they take the 2 newbs, because they don't understand that IT workers aren't replaceable cogs. And this way, when the inevitable fubar happens, they can blame it on the workers instead of their own incompetence.

      • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

        Did the GP say that he did? There are friends and there are coworkers and there is usually some overlap, but not necessarily.

        Rgds

        Damon

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:27PM (#51979067)

        They are not the only friends I have. But yes in fact I DO want to the people I work with to be friends at some level. The people in the group I work with currently I spend almost zero time with outside of work yet I consider them friends on some level, and enjoy spending time with them - a good thing too as the people you work with you'll spend far more time with than most "real" friends.

        Business today does hiring based on money.

        HA HA HA HA HA HO HE HAHA HO....

        That was hilarious. You should go on stage with that act. The things business does daily are so remote from real monetary concerns as to be laughable. It certainly does not come into play when hiring technical people as most businesses are simply DESPERATE (and I do not use that word lightly) to find someone responsible who knows what they are even doing.

        There are probably a few businesses that hire because "cheap labor" but as I said why would you even want to work there? Such businesses are no fun, and more importantly they will not be around that long anyway so you'd just have to find new work. That's why the few places that are so short sighted simply do not matter in terms of *my* ability to find work, which is what the main article is about (older experienced workers ability to find work).

    • I work for a university doing IT and as with most universities, you see a big mix of ages. We have everything from students up to people in their 80s (I'm 35). The most common problem I see with older workers is the lack of willingness to keep up with new tech. IT, development, or any computer field progresses fast, of course. If you are going to be effective, you have to be open to learning new things all the time and changing how you do things. Some older workers have a lot of trouble with that. They act

  • in fact I work with a lot of people past retirement age who are usually offered a lot of money to keep working. In some (maybe not so cutting edge where real money is made and results matter) industries, experience is valuable.
  • by Michael Coleman ( 4288707 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:48PM (#51978867)

    Am 51, and for the last decade I've experience some, yes. The most overt was for a Bay Area startup position that was going swimmingly until I did a Skype with the (much younger) DoE, and he saw I was "old". (Guess he couldn't read a resume.) But the more annoying ageism is a general assumption by some of the kids that if there is a difference of opinion on an engineering question, it's because the old guy is clinging to his anachronistic ways. Version control? Testing? Even a one-page design doc? Don't be such an old fuddy duddy!! :-)

    It has its plusses, though. As an old guy, you realize that there's serious money to be made cleaning up after the kids. And experience can often tell you which projects are sure failures, which can save working on something hopeless for a year.

    • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:07PM (#51978973)

      serious money to be made cleaning up after the kids.

      YES!!! There's also serious money to be made in the support of 40 year old technology running on critical systems whose documentation was lost years ago.`

    • As an old guy, you realize that there's serious money to be made cleaning up after the kids.

      My first IT job was a Token Ring to Ethernet conversion project. A real simple job of removing the coaxial cable from between the Token Ring card and the wall plug, plugging in the Ethernet cable between the motherboard port and the wall, and testing the video app that required the extra bandwidth. We had 300 systems. I took 150 on one side, the two fresh out of high school kids took 150 on the other side. When I started overlapping the computers that they did and noticed that the video app didn't work, I c

  • Is it ageism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:50PM (#51978881)

    Is it ageism when I turn down work because the company wants my experience but is only willing to pay the price of a someone straight out of college?

    But yes ..I have experienced ageism in a former company. I once worked for a company that had a president like the mentioned HubSpot CEO. Me and 3 other middle career hires once sat around with dropped jaws during one company meeting when he gushed over hiring people straight out of college because then he could "shape" them into the perfect company workers. Where as he couldn't do that with older hires. Apparently us older workers with all our experience were outright trouble makers.

    Fortunately I was only at that place for 6 months.

    • that's one of the key points; and you seem to have learned it first-hand.

      being able to underpay is half of it; but the other half is that young and fresh on the job market means you are going to drink THEIR koolaid and its the first one you'll ever have, so you'll think their way is the right way and the only way.

      companies LOVE THIS. I fully get that and understand that.

      but its still wrong.

      they get away with it, because they can. that's why. they know its wrong, but they have no morals. companies are li

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:50PM (#51978887) Journal

    I'll show you ageism, you little shits. If I have to get out of this chair, somebody's gonna cry.

  • Older people don't like the unpaid OT and end less 60-80 hour weeks so that is a black flag to HR / PHB.

    • There is an element of truth to that, but at the same time the older work tends to get more done in 20 hours than the younger ones do in 60. Of course the reward of getting your work done is usually more work, but the older worker is less likely to put up with that sort of bullshit even with a big jump in pay.
  • Discrimination on the basis of age is a federal crime. But just try to prove it. I once applied for a position as a design engineer. When the owner of the company came out of his office to interview me, the first words out of his mouth were "I advertised for an engineer, not an engineering manager!" I did not get the job. On the other hand, my resume is golden, at least in the area where I live. I still was hired by a company after I had turned 65. Six years later, I still get inquiries.
  • I can't be sure. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @03:58PM (#51978929) Homepage Journal

    Not without being a mind-reader.

    I do know that after a long and very successful career I took two years off to deal with health issues with one of my kids (now happily resolved) and thereafter as an over-50 engineer with an employment gap I was pretty much unemployable.

    My experiences in the interviews I got suggest something subtly different than ageism -- at least of the sort that believes older engineers can't do the work. I'd meet with a bunch of people and everyone would seem excited and enthusiastic about my background... except the hiring manager. Whomever I was going to work for would seem distinctly colder, as if they'd decided I wasn't going to get the job before they even met me.

    I think what's going on is that people don't like the idea of supervising someone who is older and highly experienced. Maybe they think a more experienced worker would be less cooperative. Or maybe they were afraid we'd be angling for their job. I don't think, given my resume, that anyone believed I couldn't do the work. They just doubted my word that I really wanted the job because of my experience.

    Is that ageism?

    I think it's very common for more experienced engineers who've reached the point where they've been doing engineering management to want to get back down and dirty, only to be frustrated by the fact that nobody wants you for that kind of work at your age. You hear it a lot -- I enjoyed being a project leader or program manager, it was rewarding and I'm glad I did it, but now I want to get back to the stuff that brought me into the field in the first place. Except once you've taken any kind of senior position nobody wants you for grunt work anymore, even if you've been armpit-deep in engineering on a day-to-day basis.

    Is that ageism?

    I dunno. But it does suck.

  • There a lot of tech pro's who don't want to deal with / are not that good all doing all of the Management work and just want to do tech work.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:06PM (#51978967) Homepage

    I've experienced the bias against older tech workers. I've also seen the results of that bias: work that would've gotten a failing grade even in the college courses I took, let alone at some of my employers. There's a considerable advantage to having been there, done that, can see how current problems match previously encountered problems and what methods already exist to solve them. To give an extreme example, traditional Web applications (most logic on the server, Javascript in the client is used primarily for input validation and display formatting) mirror very closely the flow of ancient 3270 workstation "green-screen" applications: the server sends a block of display and validation instructions to the client, the user enters the data without interacting with the server, the client sends the completed form back to the server as a single block for processing. The same flow held for the forms applications I build for DEC VAX/VMS in the 80s. And many of the tricks developed to maintain session data across requests for web application are the same tricks we used for the same purpose way back when. I can see the same pendulum swing at work as well: 3270 workstations gave way to interactive terminals (where the application could directly interact with the user), which gave way to forms applications, which gave way to thick clients (PC applications that accessed remote servers via various protocols), which in turn gave way to Web applications, which are now giving way to thick clients again (this time Javascript framework applications running in the browser accessing remote servers via XML/JSON and RESTful interfaces). That perspective gives me a big advantage in knowing where to go for things that already exist and have had all the kinks thoroughly worked out that I can apply to the current problem, rather than having to work solutions out from first principles or copy-and-paste code from StackOverflow as a black box as many of the younger developers do.

    Most of the bias I attribute to a mistaken belief that "old" = "unable/unwilling to learn". Some of that belief probably comes as a reaction to the normal skepticism older people have to the latest "silver bullet" sales hype. We've seen those fail to live up to the hype time and time again, someone who's only been in the business 5 years and who hasn't maintained a single application through many update cycles hasn't gotten the first-hand experience with the fallout. It's not that the shiny new tech isn't good, but the salesman is probably over-promising to try and seal the deal and I'd prefer to find the gotchas in a test project rather than by having production fall over.

    • You need to experience a minimum of 3 huge clusterf*cks before you can even begin to say you're experienced. People learn more from mistakes. Even steel needs to be tempered to be tough and not brittle.
  • Ageism on Slashdot (Score:4, Informative)

    by daveywest ( 937112 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:08PM (#51978983)
    Just look no further than slashdot. All these young whippersnappers with 7 digit slashdot user id numbers are taking over the place.
  • Depends on what you are doing and how good you are at doing it.

    Some places are run by people who just want a pool of young ass to pull from or easily intimidated people to boss around. So unless you are the flavor they like and in your early twenties you are not going to get hired. Nor would probably want to work at that company.

    After leaving the military the only ageism I get is "you want a job?! Oh thank God I don't have to deal with another fucktard kid that can't bother to show up on time, dress

  • yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:14PM (#51979007)
    Yes, I have experienced it, and it's not just the tech field.
    A little ranting about the value of experience is below. Feel free to ignore it. ;)
    Though at my previous tech job, I was the secret asset. If a techie had a problem they couldn't solve, they were required to go to the help desk and were forbidden to the senior techs about it. (New and relatively young manager had foolish ideas.) After the helpdesk was unable to help, they'd come by my cube to 'chat'. Usually had an answer for them in a minute or two, or at least a few things to test out to isolate the issue. It's not just that I had more experience with the software than they did, but I also understood a LOT more of how the machine functions as I'd started fooling with computers all the way back in the early 80s. That's not to say that knowing machine language for a 6502 processor is directly applicable, but rather knowing the intimate details of how a computer actually does it's work will allow you a certain insight into the operations of any computer that someone who grew up in a gui world just doesn't get. The greater understanding and experience employing that allows for greatly enhanced options for approaching an issue. The others really didn't like it if I couldn't solve an issue because that almost always guaranteed it was getting kicked to the devs.
  • Two words.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by technomom ( 444378 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:32PM (#51979087)
    Ageism doesn't exist? Bullshit [indeed.com]
  • Well, actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cshark ( 673578 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:38PM (#51979113)

    Recruiters like it when you shave you beard for interviews in the midwest. They do, they really like it. They prefer if you do it. They can't tell you that you have to do it anymore, but they still very strongly prefer it. I've always felt kind of awkward without a beard. So, one day, about five years ago, and just as my beard started going gray, I stopped doing it. It's idiotic to change your appearance in this way, especially when it's a dishonest representation of what you actually look like most of the time.

    I've always had a good resume, I get compliments on it all the time from clients and recruiters alike. The only people that dislike the way I write a resume are college guidance counselors, and people poisoned by their terrible advice, but they're few and far between. So all things considered, that factor in this equation has not changed. But since I've been growing the beard both longer and grayer, the number of successful interviews I've had has gone up. And the way I've been treated on the job has changed, dramatically. Bear in mind that the type of roles I go for hasn't changed since I was 25. I like coding. I intend to continue doing it.

    People are more respectful. They ask me for my insights more often. I'm treated like an eccentric code sage, and that's absolutely fine with me. Even when I fly out to work in places like California or Seattle, this does not seem to change. I can only think of one instance where this decision has worked against me. One interview for a very hostile publishing company a few years ago, where they made it a point to ask me how often I keep up with new things, where they refused to believe that I read more books every year than their CEO. That said, I think that one would probably have went poorly no matter what I looked like.

    I don't mind being older than my coworkers or project managers.
    I don't mind taking orders from people younger than me. This isn't my trip in life.
    I'm just there to make better stuff, solve more interesting problems, and keep myself challenged intellectually.
    My biggest problem is boredom, so I've learned to be pickier in selecting my assignments.

    Getting older, and reaching middle age isn't a bad thing.
    You just have to know how to sell it.

    • Sounds more like you just look better with a beard.

      I've had the opposite problem. Due to horrible acne that persists in middle age even with medical treatment, I decided to grow a beard so my skin could heal. I kept it well trimmed and did still shave my neck, and I thought it looked pretty good. I noticed a very sudden change in how strangers treated me, notably, like I was dumb and a bum. After a month of that kind of harassment, I shaved it all off. Things went back to normal. Apparently, my acne a

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:41PM (#51979133) Homepage

    Not at Google, Microsoft, FB, Amazon and other top tier companies. They hire so much, they can't afford to age-discriminate even if they wanted to. Which they don't.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:42PM (#51979137) Journal
    It's a disaster waiting to happen.

    I'm almost in my 50s and I've constantly experienced ageism. It's easy for people to point fingers and say if you're competent you'll get any job no matter what - that would come from people with endless network contacts, but if you're mobile - and have to find new networks all the time then it's not THAT easy because believe it or not - most HR and Recruitment centres ignore you if they see 40+ in your CV. They don't even bother to read it after that, you won't even be contacted.

    And this is a freaking catastrophe - because at least Sweden (and Scandinavia) where I live, the government have decided that we're LIVING LONGER all the time and pushes the retirement age up towards 67 - 70yo because the society can't afford to support the pensioners that keep living longer and longer, we're expected to reach 100 nowadays, if your retirement happens when you're 60 years - this means we've got to support you for 40+ more years, no society can afford that.

    But you do the Math: Ageism = companies want them younger and younger - Government expect us to live longer and longer = extreme poverty above 40 to you're 70 if you make it that far.
  • I commit ageism (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @04:43PM (#51979145) Journal
    I am guilty of ageism: I prefer to work with older people.
    • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @05:48PM (#51979475)

      I am guilty of ageism: I prefer to work with older people.

      :) Me too...

      I'm 40, I recently interviewed for a video/sound editor position and the under 25 crowd is indeed willing to work for cheap, but for heaven's sake, can one of them please show up with a tie on?

      The 40 year olds who show up for an interview? Suits and ties.

      No, the position will never require you wear a suit or tie, you can come to work in t-shirts and jeans if you want, but the suit says "I'm here because I want the job and I'm serious about that".

      ----

      15 years ago I was interviewing for my first flying job, it was a $16/hr no-benefits part time position. I showed up in a suit and tie. One of the pilots there (wearing jeans and a t-shirt) joked, "what's with the monkey suit", to which I replied, "I want the job, this says that from the minute I walk in the door".

      I got the job, never wore a suit there of course, but even during the interview I was asked about that, same answer. Did it make a difference? I have no idea, but it didn't hurt.

  • Recently, Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @05:10PM (#51979269)

    I am 58, but look 15 years younger (partly genetics I guess, but I also lift weights and so am pretty buff - I can beat anyone in my company in push-ups and arm-wrestling). In my most recent job hunt (last year), I experienced what I think is age discrimination for the first time - having an interview with a start-up that went really well I thought, but then got an rejection with the explanation that I would not "fit into a start-up environment" (I had worked start-ups in the earlier tech boom though). But then I got an offer from a start-up a few weeks later, where I am currently working.

    I dropped my first decade of experience off my resume years ago, as I thought it was not obviously relevant to the modern tech industry, and harmful in dating me, and so I also do not list my Bachelors graduation dates. I was fortunate to earn my Masters, and do PhD work, mid-career, so that I do list those dates on my resume, making me look more than a decade younger on paper (which is not then exposed upon meeting me since I look like my implied age).

    I am concerned though, because I need to work until I am 70 to collect my full SS income, and build up a decent retirement account. The drain of a child with cancer for many years, before she died, and a wife that had serious health issues and an emotional breakdown during that same period set me well behind financially. (A lot of obviously young, and so far lucky, posters here make it sound like saving for retirement is always a piece of cake, and anyone who has trouble preparing is just stupid and lazy; but bad things can happen in life through no fault of yours that can really hurt your savings - there is no safety net to help you out). I am not sure how long my apparent youthfulness will hold out, and whether the industry will become even more intolerant of age. I just need 12 more years though.

    • Wow. Sad that that sort of strategy is needed, but more power to you. Folks also need to realize that someone who is 58, in good shape, and is standing strong after many life challenges you are likely more tenacious than anyone around you.

  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday April 24, 2016 @05:25PM (#51979337)
    As an older worker with considerable skills, it was hard to even get an interview stateside, but overseas in Asia, they recognized my value and were more than willing to not only hire me, but pay well for what I brought to the table. In the US, older workers are made to feel like dirt. In Asia, they respect age.

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