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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
Presto Vivace writes: Fortune has an article about increasingly overt age discrimination in the tech industry. Quoting: "It's a widely accepted reality within the technology industry that youth rules. But at least part of the extreme age imbalance can be traced back to advertisements for open positions that government regulators say may illegally discriminate against older applicants. Many tech companies post openings exclusively for new or recent college graduates, a pool of candidates that is overwhelmingly in its early twenties. ... 'In our view, it's illegal,' Raymond Peeler, senior attorney advisor at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces workplace discrimination laws said about the use of 'new grad' and 'recent grad' in job notices. 'We think it deters older applicants from applying.'" Am I the only one who thinks many of the quality control issues and failed projects in the tech industry can be attributed to age discrimination?
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Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:25AM (#47292153)

    Older people have families, they come first. The young have very little in the way of responsibilities and have yet to learn their many extra hours working for someone else count for very little at the end of the day.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:40AM (#47292181)

    ... I've encountered a tiny bit of what seemed like discrimination but then its hard to tell. Perhaps I just was just being a bit precious about it.

    But what I do know is its horses for courses - younger people are (generally) better at thinking up new ideas/paradigms and novel ways to do things , older people are (generally) better at the detailed implementation of a system as they'll have encountered a lot if not most of the problems before and have X number of years experience

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:49AM (#47292195)

    What? Group X deserves Y for any reason Z? How about: 'Fratboys with Ferraris have car manufacturers and dealers, they come first. All those people and jobs depending on them.'

    Nobody deserves anything, particularly not for the responsibilities they chose (hopefully) to make. The only person who "deserves" the job is the most capable person for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:50AM (#47292197)

    I can see where the problems occur between ageism vs new people. I'm not going to reveal who I am for fear of backlash, but if you're going to be an unimaginative little shit who thinks learning stops when you graduate college, then you're going to end up with a dead end job or even worse... out of a job for those young kids people keep complaining about.

    Let me tell you something, I hit six figures ages ago and keep thinking to myself what my goals are in life. At first my goal was 100k, then 200, etc etc. You don't have to go your whole life before retirement working sub-100k jobs in rural areas, there are plenty of opportunities to get 100+k in any area if you're skilled enough and have the business skills.

    To those who are bitching about being too old and getting the boot, grow a fucking pair and stop being fucking idiots.

  • Re:22 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JockTroll (996521) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @05:54AM (#47292207)
    Most likely, if you're out of work at 30 after working 8 years in the tech industry, you've been replaced by a younger worker who's cheaper and more flexible. IT in particular has no need for talent, know-how and experience, you shovel fresh meat in at one end and shit comes out of the end. That's why computers are for chumps.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:18AM (#47292257) Homepage

    It has nothing to do with the relative merits of experience or fresh ideas, it's just about wages. Older people demand higher wages to pay for their mortgages and families. Younger people will work stupid ours on unpaid overtime because they want to get to the same position as the older ones.

    Most companies don't value experience or things like code quality and architectural elegance. They just want some crapware churned out at the lowest possible cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:24AM (#47292271)

    In reality, neither - older people or the best for the job - get the job. Because if it were the most capable for the job, then new college grads would never get hired, would they?

    It takes a couple of years experience to become good and productive.

    The truth of the hiring in tech is that its capricious and based on fads - firms are lemmings.

    Some big currently successful corp starts basing its hiring on some metric someone pulls out of their ass, and then everyone does it in the hopes of aping the success of that firm.

    Google and Microsoft has fucked up hiring for everyone with their idiotic interview questions that they ended up getting rid of anyway [newyorker.com].

    See, the fact is companies have no clue how to get the best. They make metrics up, buy cute tests, hire consultants with their Ouija boards or whatever, and follow what currently successful companies are doing - who are also pulling shit out of their asses.

    The best way to hire? Get a development manager with a long contact list in his smart phone and have him start calling people he knows can deliver and throw money at them.

    Never fails.

    If you or your company can't get "qualified people", it's because YOU suck - pay too low, having HR recruit or just being lemmings and following the herd on how to hire.

  • by rcharbon (123915) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:47AM (#47292321) Homepage
    ...it's about pay scales - employers figure recent grads will work for less.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @06:48AM (#47292325)

    except for, you know, the money that you earn while working all those hours.

    They are- I assume- referring to *unpaid* overtime in salaried individuals. This can- and sometimes does- go up to ridiculous levels, but is an issue primarily when it's a frequent- rather than occasional one-off- occurrence and this way by intentional design on the part of management, regardless of what they get the peons on the receiving end to believe.

  • Wheres my walker? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QA (146189) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:22AM (#47292375)

    Full disclosure: I am 56 years old.

    I've found over the years that a lot of smaller, family owned or privately run businesses will hire older personnel for the experience factor alone. Granted, I'm a Sysadmin, not a programmer.

    The larger companies are shackled by company policy (written or unwritten) HR, fixed pay scales and so on. I do believe money comes in to play as younger can mean considerably cheaper, but if that person takes 3X longer to accomplish the task, how much are you really saving in the long run?

    The company I've worked for the last 8 years has 50 employees, 11 servers, 65 workstations, laptops, phones, tablets, and so on. I'm also involved in special projects which I have time for because all our systems run smoothly. I can take time off without fear of something bad happening, barring hardware failure or user stupidity.

    I tried hiring an assistant, but didn't have much luck. Anyone who could actually help me, and was knowledgeable were few and far between. I got lots of kids who "played with computers" but had no clue on AD, Domains, and so on. I was willing to pay 50k to start by the way.

    Anyway, of course age discrimination exists, as does other forms of discrimination. It has simply moved below the surface whereas previously it was overt. I know many companies I have dealt with would hire me in an instant because they know my skill level, however I would have one Hell of a time on the open market at my age. I doubt I would make it past the HR drone.

    Pete

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:45AM (#47292419)
    As someone with 45+ years of software experience I can personally verify that software development has not improved significantly over the last 25 years or so. The two most important changes are that there is much less assembly programming (outside of imbedded systems) and each hardware vendor does not have their own completely incompatible operating system. Most of the rest of the "improvements" are pretty much moot beyond that.

    OOP has never lived up to it's hype. No matter how "object oriented" a system is, it is still just as likely to be late and/or broken as in pre-OOP days. Development, maintenance and modification is not automatically better with OOP.

    The lessons of good language design might as well not exist. PHP is a cesspool of bad design and implementation. JavaScript, even though it has some nice features (closures) has an obscure object model that is difficult to understand and is a wreck just waiting to happen. (Any body can overwrite the basic implementation of built in functions. Really? ObjectHasOwnProperty. Really?) C++ finally got a reasonable memory management model after C++03 with RAII/smart pointers. What did that take, 30+ years? Python and Lua are reasonably good, but they seem to be niche players. Java isn't a programming language, it is a self contained universe. Like a black hole, once you go in you never come out. And even if it's OK now, the fact that Oracle in in charge means that it is like Middle Earth if Sauron won. (Yes. Ellison is that bad.)

    I can't be certain, but I strongly believe that one of the reason for the lack of progress is that there are not a lot of old programmers still in the profession. Unlike other engineering fields, say civil engineering, chemical engineering, etc careers tend to be short. There are not enough people around to say "we tried a version of that 15 year ago, and it had these pitfalls." The result is that the same mistakes keep getting made over and over again. This fits in with the observation that as a profession we have not improved much on estimating project requirements and being on time and on budget.

    That's one of the reasons I hate the term "Software Engineering". We are not real engineers because we can't deliver on time with predictable results and a predefined cost. It's not that this happens all the time in other engineering areas, it's just that it rarely happens with software.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Sunday June 22, 2014 @07:58AM (#47292445)

    I'm young-ish (~30) myself and have also not seen a discernible creativity/novelty advantage among younger people. Among people I've worked with there's no clear trend with people in their 20s being more creative and coming up with more good new ideas than people in their 50s. A lot of great stuff comes from people who have enough background to actually spot an opportunity for innovation.

    You can see that even at big tech companies. New ideas coming out of Google largely come from their older staff. There are a ton of 20-somethings at Google, but the major projects tend to come from people like Rob Pike (age 58), Peter Norvig (58), Ken Thompson (age 71), Lars Bak (age 49), etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:05AM (#47292461)

    They'll produce superior product, faster - Fact: Younger guys cost less & have LESS experience, thus will produce slower and inferior product.

    However - The REAL fact of the matter is payroll being easily controlled (since any business major can tell you that payroll is the single easiest cost-center to control, hence, why offshoring/outsourcing's so prevalent), just so mgt. can get more of a bonus in reality and so stockholders (with bogus common stock that yes, can vote (how many actually do?), but is paid LAST in bankruptcy liquidations after secured creditors and PREFERRED stockholders (e.g. boards of directors)).

    When that comes before superior product being produced, which it would be when produced by an older more experienced coder, that company is on its way down.

    This all stems from short-term thinking and the stock market as well... quick buck artists abound in an economy of "publicly held/traded companies" (the days of FORD or Microsoft being run by the original family or owners are going by the wayside - & with it, so is QUALITY product).

    Show me differently, please... the results out there today back me, so Good LUCK!

    APK

    P.S.=> I can't put it ANY plainer than that... apk

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:30AM (#47292515)
    So this is made worse by the fact that any time anybody has actually checked they've found that long term overtime does not actually work. (IE you don't actually get any more work out of people by having them work more than 40 hours a week for long periods of time.) Us older workers (30+) already know this and don't play this game because it's pointless.(And apparently has been known for about a century so it's not a new concept.) However managers still want you to do that, mostly because far too many managers are completely stupid. (Something I feel justified in saying because I've seen way too many mind bogglingly stupid decisions from managers.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:31AM (#47292519)

    Until we fix our education system to produce students that can actually serve the communities they are in, stop pitting one group against another such as we have in this story, we will continue to see the types of stories on /. that we are seeing today with no real solution to the root of the problem in sight.

    What a pile of BS... So what do you suggest? Should the unversities start adding Visual Studio courses, iOS development courses, or whatever the latest trend is? That's devaluation of the education. That's giving the students the fish, instead of teaching them fishing. And all of this because some companies want directly employable, run of the mill and (arguably) cheap workforce?

    Thanks but I'll pass on such universities. Since I'm paying the bill of my education, I'll go for universities that focus on providing a solid background which will make me employable in the long-run.

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @08:31AM (#47292521)
    I can't even imagine ruling out older candidates.

    A lot of the problem is people (PHBs) who do not want to employ someone under them who is older than them, because they are embarassed about:

    A) Giving instructions to an older person

    B) Giving (probably stupid) instructions to someone who understands the issues.

    No one is going to own up to these factors.

    Sometimes there is a "good" reason to hire the inexperienced. The company maya ctually require people who have not got the experience to spot mass corruption, When the company collapses, it is often necessary to be able to claim "no one on the team saw it coming" despite the fact that anyone who had ever been in an IT project before knows that version control is not just a good idea. (etc)

    If you see an empty barrel - look for pork bellies!

  • by Maxwell (13985) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:02AM (#47292633) Homepage

    I hope you are better at coding than you are at math...your shit attitude will catch up with you and you are exactly the kind of unemployable 40 year old demanding outrageous money I see every day. And never hire.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:03AM (#47292637)

    The biggest problem I notice with older tech workers (IT in my case) is lack of flexibility and lack of knowledge of how things are done currently. I work for a university so we have a good mix of ages. We have student workers that are 18-22ish, we have staff that are in their 20s, 30s (I'm 34), 40s, 50s, 60, and even 70s. We have pretty good employment stability, being a state institution.

    Now you see good and bad workers in all age groups. It isn't like all the young people are good (we get some dopey students sometimes) and the old people are bad. However what I notice is that when an older employee is not as good as they should be, it is often related to being behind the times.

    We have a guy who's retiring, thankfully, that is like that. He's a good guy and he's not an idiot, but he's real stuck in his ways, and his ways are about 20 years out of date. He does not deal with new technology and methods very well. He wants to do everything how he did it in the 80s-90s, which just doesn't work so well now. I imagine he would have real trouble finding another job if he tried because of that.

    So staying up to date on new trends is a really valuable thing. Doesn't mean you need to jump in to everything with both feet right away, but be up on what is happening, and learn it/use it if it is in demand. If you have the attitude of "this is the way we've always done it and there's no reason to change," then it won't be surprising if you can't find many positions.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:27AM (#47292723)

    Those fresh out of uni have yet to see the executive suite cut back on (or eliminate) quality assurance because it's "too costly" and it "slows down development".

    Amazing how many managers think you can save time by cutting quality isn't it? (Because what I see happen pretty much every time is it would have been quicker just to do it right the first time. You end up having to repeatedly fix the half-ass version until you get a working version.)

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:41AM (#47292761)
    Modded me down for pointing out overtime has a long track record of not working or that managers make decisions so idiotic you wonder how they can't figure it out. (But us "older" workers know all about that.)
  • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @10:31AM (#47292955) Homepage
    Very strange reasoning. Since I am one of these older people, I never had so much time to throw at my job. My kids are all working or completing graduate studies. You know, normally, you are young enough to reproduce when you have kids. I mean, usually the mother is less than 35 years old. It is very likely a newly hired young engineer will eventually have family and suddenly shorter nights and all that things which are well beyond for the older ones. Sad to say for you young guys, life doesn't end after 45.
  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @11:10AM (#47293127) Homepage

    The problem many companies faces are the will to put something fast on the market cheap, and that means that quality control will suffer. More seasoned (older) people will demand a better quality control department, which costs man-hours - which not all companies can afford, but when the product hits the market it better be good enough or you can't afford not to have a quality control department.

    Add to it that many managers have problems with being able to control people older than what they are themselves. The manager may be in his 40's and it can be pretty awkward to be a manager for someone that's in his 50's with 30 years of experience in the matters at hand.

  • by sdinfoserv (1793266) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:21PM (#47293463) Homepage
    100% accurate. I used to work at a company that had horrible time recruiting tech positions. The pay offered was 1/2 the going rate in the city. The company literally only wanted to hire interns and retain them for $15/hr or less after graduation. Of course word gets out and eventually nobody applies so we started distance recruiting. There was one instance where an individual applied who was (imho) clearly incapable yet HR wanted to 'fill the position' - a win for HR, complained to the VP that I wouldn't hire what they were delivering and it was an unspoken 'forced hire'... I left immediately, and the tool they hired lasted 6 months.
  • by greenbird (859670) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @12:49PM (#47293575)

    Poppycock! It only takes years because the colleges are failing at producing the quality employee and the company ends up having to re-teach what the grad was supposed to learn in school. Worse, they now may have to unlearn bad habits that the student was taught in that rotten school.

    Bullshit. No school of any kind is going to teach you how things work in industry. First off in almost every case the instructors have little if any industry experience. Teaching and working in industry are 2 completely different skill sets. Second a college's job should be teaching fundamentals: language theory, programming theory (e.g. L-Values vs R-Values), data structures, algorithms and the like. Those are the types of things that can be taught in a structured graded environment. Because thirdly there is no way possible for any school to set up a program that would represent what you are going to face once you start working in industry: Working on a team of 10 individuals where the work has to get done no matter that 3 of them are incompetent idiots, requirements changing on a daily bases without changes to resources or schedule, balancing supportability vs reliability vs speed of completion, being to do risk assessments on the fly as conditions change radically throughout a project. Because these types of things are radically different for each project you work on these are things that can't be taught in a classroom environment and are only learned through experience.

    As someone said further up these are also intangible skills that are almost always overlooked by HR types and managers who haven't worked in the trenches. And as GP said these are the types of skills that when missing cause software projects to fail or to turn out the kind of crap we typically see when they do manage to "succeed".

    The bigger the employer, the more scrutiny they come under. Again, you need some metric to weed out the chaff in a way that won't get you sued in any of a thousand different ways. Some metrics work, some don't.

    There is no "metric". As has been discovered using "metrics" like these ends in tossing out the good candidates while hiring the idiots.

    Again, it is trying to work within the hiring laws that skew the tables with things like affirmative action How many times has /. had stories about the gender gap or other minority in tech? I see at least a story a week including this story. All these lead to a perception that those groups need to be given preference even over better qualified applicants solely to meet the numbers.

    Again bullshit. Did you see the recent diversity numbers put out by the big name tech companies? These "metrics" you claim are supposed to be saving them from diversity issues has resulted in an overwhelmingly white/Asian male majority.

    Yet when government does that you get upset??? Throwing money at a problem isn't only foolish it is a quick way to the poor house. What you are calling for is cronyism or nepotism where the only way to get a job is to be in that one person's contact list. That's no way to hire someone and you really don't know why that person may be in that contact list.

    You sound like HR or a clueless hiring manager. Throwing money at the highly skilled personnel who will get the job done is exactly how to get the job done and make money. Paying a lot for three highly experience highly skilled people will payoff far more than hiring 10 much cheaper inexperienced college grads who don't have a clue about risk evaluation, supportability, performance, etc... And the people are on the contact list because they are the types that have a history of getting things done and bailed out projects that started with those college grads working on them who cocked them all up.

    Way to put your head in the sand and ignore the fact that the universities and colleges are failing in their task of producing qualified student

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @01:05PM (#47293647) Homepage

    A LOT of very stupid people are waiting until they are in their late 30's or 40's to have kids.. Oh boy, the joy of having to raise children until retirement age.. I'll instead enjoy the money and spare time of being 45 and my kids gone...

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @04:04PM (#47294347) Journal

    This is why you negotiate your salary based on a 50 hr work week.

    Or negotiate based on 40 hours a week and the nwork 40 hours a week.

Uncompensated overtime? Just Say No.

Working...