Ageism In Tech A Diversity Issue


By: DiversityWorking Press
Date Posted: December 13, 2015
News Source: Fast Company

Ageism in the tech industry is still much a diversity issue, but often not much talked about, unlike gender and race. According to a Fast Company article, there are not many employees over age 50 in many startups.





The article cites one post on Medium by Steven Levy, who noted "an absence of an age distribution among the metrics." In his post, Levy cites PayScale data, which show that the "average age of an employee at the top technology employers is around 29."

Levy, who is himself over 50, said at Medium, which may exceptionally age diverse among its fellow tech startups, "sometimes-tense," all-hands meeting about the racial and gender diversity of its ranks, he felt it best to stay mum when they didn’t bring up the age factor.

The article also cites Levy's observation that there are major influencers who perpetuate ageism in the tech industry, naming Mark Zuckerberg as among those. Zuckerberg was reported to have commented about the perils of aging way back in 2007: "I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter. Why are most chess masters under 30? I don't know. Young people just have simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have family. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what's important."

Another factor to ageism in the tech workplace is the old concept of the "golden years." Karissa Thacker, PhD, author of The Art of Authenticity, observes, "Ageism is more rampant, but not just because of startups. The notion of ‘golden years’ that is so ingrained in American culture did not include a job, but a fishing pole."

A disdain by younger tech workers for organizational maturity and having good project management skills, Alec Levenson, a labor economist and senior research scientist at the University of Southern California said. "But young hot shots who are at the cutting edge of development of new tech typically never want to listen to 'old geezers' who only know the old tech, and thus 'could never understand this new thing we’re developing,' when in fact the principles of good project management apply regardless of the type of work," he says.

As with any diversity issues, there is a need to bring ageism into the conversation. Age diversity in any work setting can bring great benefits, but as Thacker said: "Just like any kind of diversity, it takes more work to understand people who are different."

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Read the full article at Fast Company




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