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The Diversity Issue Silicon Valley Isn't Trying To Fix: Age Discrimination (medium.com) 362

An anonymous reader writes: The tech industry has recognized it isn't as welcoming to women or minorities as it should be, and is loudly taking steps to solve that issue. Major companies are now releasing diversity reports to highlight their efforts. But as Stephen Levy points out, none of them seem interested in doing something about a different diversity issue that's been pervading Silicon Valley for years: age discrimination. He says, "One company, Payscale, does supply some estimates. Looking at its numbers in 2012, Payscale noted, 'The typical tech employee wasn't around for the original release of Star Wars. And as of last year, the average age at Google was 30; at Facebook, 28; LinkedIn, 29, and Apple, 31. In comparison, the average age in more traditional tech industries like data processing or web publishing was almost 10 years higher than Silicon Valley/Internet firms. In my view, age information should be included in those diversity reports, to underline the need for change— and, even more important, those in charge of company cultures should view age diversity as a plus. Right now, that's not happening."
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The Diversity Issue Silicon Valley Isn't Trying To Fix: Age Discrimination

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:45AM (#50757605)

    When for fuck's sake will the editors... oh, wait. Not women or minorities this time.

    Carry on.

  • Money (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No one's discriminating by age, just by salary requirements. This is a natural consequence.

    • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:59AM (#50757729)

      No one's discriminating by age, just by salary requirements. This is a natural consequence.

      No.When you're out of work, you'll take anything at just about any pay. But what I have run across is if you're unemployed then you're no good - if you're any good, you'd have a job.

      And there's this nonsense of having to match requirements 100% to even get an interview. Back when I started in the late 80s, being proficient in a programming language was enough - mainframe jobs many times also wanted CICS knowledge on top of COBOL. Knowing the OS or platform was a plus; after all, outside of the language, everything else is just API. But that changed with the advent of Java; that seems to be when the industry started getting retarded. And when web development took off with all these different languages and tools, we went into full ludicrous hiring mode - yeah, the H1-b scam added to it immensely.

      Back in my IBM days, an old timer took me aside and said that when he started, there weren't any of those people - as he was pointing at the Indians. Then we were shut down and everything went to India and the rush to get what jobs there were in the area happened. It was amazing how fast the younger guys got jobs even though they had less skills than we did. So much for "if you have the skills, you can get a job" fairy tale,

      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by creimer ( 824291 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:55AM (#50758221) Homepage

        But what I have run across is if you're unemployed then you're no good - if you're any good, you'd have a job.

        I was out of work for two years (2009-2010), underemployed for six months (working 20 hours per month), and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011. For two-and-a-half years I was told by recruiters that I was unemployable and hiring managers that I was overqualified for minimum wage jobs. Why? Because everyone looked at my resume, saw that I've done help desk support for the last three years prior to being unemployed, didn't have any help desk openings, and wouldn't consider me for any other kind of work as they ASSSUMED that I wanted to continue doing help desk. I didn't get back into the job market until I found jobs that NEEDED workers to do the work.

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          Help desk is a dead end job. I started there and have worked up to System Administration, but it was a long hard struggle. It's frustrating how few employers value experience learning over book learning. I had to come in at significant lower pay to get out of help desk. Now that I'm 10 years into System Admin work and specializing in Linux, it's getting better.
      • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @11:22AM (#50758487)

        And there's this nonsense of having to match requirements 100% to even get an interview.

        Let me fill you in on a little secret - when you see those, it's because they don't WANT you to apply. There's two scenarios:

        1. They already know who they want to hire, but they have some kind of policy requiring them to post the position anyhow. This is often coupled with a policy that any Internal application gets an interview even if they don't fully match the requirements. This way they can hire their Internal Pick as the 'best candidate', because all the External applicants have been discarded already as 'not fully qualified'.

        2. They want is to be able to bring in a bunch of H1-B's, and they need to be able to claim that they can't find any qualified applicants in order to do so.

        It was amazing how fast the younger guys got jobs even though they had less skills than we did. So much for "if you have the skills, you can get a job" fairy tale

        Yes, they had less skills. They also will usually work for less as well. They are less likely to know about their Rights, and less likely to file complaints when they get treated like shit. They are less likely to have family, which means it's easier to get them to travel, work excessive hours, and take on more work than they ought to. They are far less likely to need time off for medical or family reasons, which also means group Insurance plans are offered at a lower rate. Retirement is also a consideration- the young kids are not likely to stick around long enough to draw a Pension.
        No, none of that is really fair, and much of it is probably technically illegal to consider, but that's the reality of the situation.

        • It's a good thing we forced companies to provide all these benefits like healthcare and retirement plans. It makes old people desperate to have a job, and employers desperate not to hire them.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        When you get older you can't take anything at any pay, because the company will assume that being underpaid you will leave at the earliest opportunity. So you don't get the job in the first place.

        There is also the assumption that older workers will want to go home at some sane time, take their holiday (and expect an extra week or two above baseline), use sick leave for their kids illnesses etc.

      • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @12:00PM (#50758851) Journal
        If you quit on your own terms and took a break for a few months to do something worthwhile, you have a lot less of a problem picking up where you left off. When asked why you left your last job, immediately indicate it was your choice to do so (even if it wasn't exactly a choice), and then explain what you did besides immediately start looking for a job.

        At my last job, I ran into issues with my boss. We both agreed it'd be better if I quit. (No employment insurance that way, but I retained positive rehire status, which is more important than people realize.) So I quit, and took the summer off. I published a book on Kindle, and when that inevitably didn't make me an overnight millionaire, I started applying for jobs. I got an interview by the second application, and framed the terms of ending my previous employment as, "My boss and I both agreed the position really wasn't what I had expected it to be. So I took a break, and pursued my dream of publishing a novel. Now that I've done that, I'm ready to get back to work."

        On the topic of matching requirements - match them in the cover letter with the qualifier of "I may not have (x) but I do have (yz)" - (x) will get picked up by the HR scanning software, and get it in front of a pair of human eyeballs. Which is really all you need to get an interview if NOBODY has all the qualifications.
    • No one's discriminating by age, just by salary requirements. This is a natural consequence.

      That and older people aren't willing to be driven like cattle.

    • Re:Money (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:38AM (#50758057)

      No one's discriminating by age, just by salary requirements. This is a natural consequence.

      This is completely untrue.

      I'm 56. I applied for a position developing cutting edge deployment methodology with a startup using open source toolsets I have extensive experience with and have contributed to. I dropped my salary requirement 35% because (1) I don't have to make top salary, and (2) I expected that the markers on my resume would be worth more in the long run than any other job I would have held at this stage in my career.

      I had several phone screenings and then interviews and feedback was extremely positive.

      As soon as I walked into the building to interview in person the tone and attitude changed. I have grey hair. I've had grey hair since I was 32.

      What I'm told is they are looking for "fit", or "cultural fit". The reality is they are looking for and screening against a type, and part of that type is mid-twenties to mid-thirties. I usually get hired because my qualifications are fucking outstanding. And because there is at least one outlier - someone also with grey hair.

      With any luck, all of us outliers, we can band together and start looking for "cultural fit".

      You are probably in support of that other bullshit spawned by the tech sector, ethical altruism...

      • Re:Money (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @12:49PM (#50759277) Homepage

        No one's discriminating by age, just by salary requirements. This is a natural consequence.

        This is completely untrue.

        I'm 56. I applied for a position developing cutting edge deployment methodology with a startup using open source toolsets I have extensive experience with and have contributed to. I dropped my salary requirement 35% because (1) I don't have to make top salary, and (2) I expected that the markers on my resume would be worth more in the long run than any other job I would have held at this stage in my career.

        I had several phone screenings and then interviews and feedback was extremely positive.

        As soon as I walked into the building to interview in person the tone and attitude changed. I have grey hair. I've had grey hair since I was 32.

        What I'm told is they are looking for "fit", or "cultural fit". The reality is they are looking for and screening against a type, and part of that type is mid-twenties to mid-thirties. I usually get hired because my qualifications are fucking outstanding. And because there is at least one outlier - someone also with grey hair.

        With any luck, all of us outliers, we can band together and start looking for "cultural fit".

        You are probably in support of that other bullshit spawned by the tech sector, ethical altruism...

        If grey hair is your problem, then dye it? Don't assume that cosmetic products are just for ladies. If companies are hiring partly on appearances, why wouldn't you try to look closer to their expectation?

        It's unfortunate that companies can get away with these illegal hiring practices. Individuals can't really fight against them. The only move an individual has is to game the system they have set up. If that means dyeing my hair and wearing makeup to an interview to look 10 years younger, that's what I would do.

        We are all constantly selling ourselves. Slacking off in the personal appearances department is almost equivalent to not keeping up with industry knowledge. That doesn't mean it is "right", but that's the way it is.

      • Re:Money (Score:5, Funny)

        by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @01:26PM (#50759647)
        The problem is that you look like Julian Assange, and they are worried you are going to post all their source code and internal emails on wikileaks.
  • It's in San Diego (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:50AM (#50757657)
    I write embedded software and linux device drivers. When I was 50 I joined a startup that went toes up in '10.. I've been unemployed ever since. I've had one interview, but mostly my resume submissions are ignored. I can't even find contract work any more.

    I live in San Diego.

    This month is another milestone. I finally ran out of savings and dipped into my 401k. Yay 10% penalty from the government!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sell your house and live like a king in the Midwest. Plenty of jobs and cheap housing.

      But my guess is you don't want to give up the San Diego weather for financial security.

    • I'm in my fifties and prefer embedded work myself. I find that jobs are plentiful -- but it completely depends on what part of the country you're looking in. The hot spots move over time, and only rarely are they anywhere near San Diego.

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:33AM (#50758025) Journal
      I've seen this post before, yet I know of several companies in San Diego that employ people in their 40s and 50s, do embedded development, and are hiring. I think almost everyone I know at Qualcomm's site there is over 40. I think the clue is here:

      mostly my resume submissions are ignored

      How did you get to 50 and not know other people doing embedded development? Especially if you were working on Linux, where it's a big community. Most people hiring for this kind of skill set know that it's a waste of time to go through agencies and recommendations from existing (and former) employees are the best way of hiring.

      • by fhage ( 596871 )
        I got an order of magnitude greater interest when I removed my graduation date from my profile. I'd also suggest using a picture from when you were in your 30's.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's really sad when this happens to people doing embedded code. That used to be the one area where experience was really valuable. Few people can really do embedded code well, of any age, but the older you are the more likely you are to have grown up with systems that resemble the embedded ones of today.

    • Now that HR is back in power even in tech, a software career ends as soon as you can no longer convincingly paper over any work history gap with lies. The only time HR allows you to leave a job is to immediately take another job.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The so-called diversity figures never specify what percentage of the workforce are ethnic Finns. Keeping in mind that Finns are one the smallest minority groups in the world, hiring them over massive "minority" groups like women (over 3.5 billion in the world) and people of color (over 6 billion in the world) should be top priority.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:53AM (#50757677) Homepage

    as of last year, the average age at Google was 30; at Facebook, 28; LinkedIn, 29, and Apple, 31. In comparison, the average age in more traditional tech industries like data processing or web publishing was almost 10 years higher than Silicon Valley/Internet firms.

    Maybe the older guys are wise enough not to go and work at Facebook. And why is no-one tackling the obvious discrimination against youngsters that's going on in data processing and web publishing?! ;)

    Raw statistics like this are almost worse than no data at all when it comes to identifying discrimination.

    • Maybe the older guys are wise enough not to go and work at Facebook.

      Some, probably. Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to work at a place like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc.

    • Maybe the older guys are wise enough not to go and work at Facebook.

      You and every other person here knows that isn't true. I realize you're just making a point, but even if there is a downside to working at Facebook, it's a dishonest look at a major issue.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        You are starting with a conclusion and then trying to justify it.

        THAT is about as dishonest as it gets. Unscientific too.

        A proper hypothesis is more than just just pulling a politically correct sounding idea out of your posterior.

        • You really expect the scientific method to be utilized on slashdot message boards? Is that what we do here?

          Dude was saying something that is obviously untrue, and got called on it. "Old people don't want to have high-paying jobs at Facebook" is a ludicrous statement.

      • First of all, please note the first word of the statement under discussion.

        You and every other person here knows that isn't true.

        No I don't. How do you know a) what I know and b) that it isn't true?

  • by willworkforbeer ( 924558 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:57AM (#50757711)
    They can't legally ask your age, so the job application has a space to write your feelings about kids on your lawn.

    Pro tip: They leave you room to continue your thoughts on the back of the page, it's a trap!
    • Can't ask age. Just ask date of birth.
      • by maxwells_deamon ( 221474 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @12:55PM (#50759351) Homepage

        I do not look as old as I am but it is catching up with me. Back when they used to do real job fairs with tech people at them, I could talk to people at the booth, see that they are excited. Sometimes even help them solve a problem they had. They take my resume and everything sounds great.

        Then the HR department gets my resume and they require me to tell them when I graduated college or high school. Suddenly I am black listed and nobody will return my calls. It has happened over a dozen times. They do not call my references. I had one potential employer hand me my job app back and ask me to fix the typo in my date of birth (LOL)

        Either I have a murder conviction that I can not remember, or they are trashing me due to my age.

        I have been tempted to get a community college degree just to spoof the HR departments.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @09:58AM (#50757719) Journal

    I say this as a 46-year-old... I'm able to find plenty of opportunities with most companies up here in Portland, and regularly get recruiters calling from Utah, Texas, Nevada, numerous East Coast locales... they actually want the experience.

    Silicon Valley is chock-full of startups and Type-A corps, and they only want one thing: disposable slaves.

    It's far easier to convince a a kid with a still-crisp CS degree (and way too much student loan debt) to work 90 stressful hours a week for a pittance.

    It's much harder to convince someone with sufficient experience and a family to do that... life is way too short to become the personal bitch of some IPO-seeking asshole.

    • by BVis ( 267028 )

      I say this as a 46-year-old... I'm able to find plenty of opportunities with most companies up here in Portland, and regularly get recruiters calling from Utah, Texas, Nevada, numerous East Coast locales... they actually want the experience.

      The only reason they want anyone with experience is so they can pass on what they've learned to the younger guys making 50% less than you. Once they've squeezed you dry, out you go. Sorry that you moved 3000 miles to take this job, here's a flyer on how to apply for un

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      It's far easier to convince a a kid with a still-crisp CS degree (and way too much student loan debt) to work 90 stressful hours a week for a pittance.

      It's much harder to convince someone with sufficient experience and a family to do that... life is way too short to become the personal bitch of some IPO-seeking asshole.

      The experienced worker doesn't need to work 90 hours a week. I have about 10 years experience. Almost every task that hits my desk has at least some similarities to something that I have done before. If the answer is in a book, I know which books on my shelf might have the answer. Maybe I did a similar calculation before. Perhaps I had a job that has similar elements and things went wrong- I can plan for those problems and avoid them.

      The kid is going to charge into the jungle and step in a bear trap,

    • I say this as a 46-year-old... I'm able to find plenty of opportunities with most companies up here in Portland, and regularly get recruiters calling from Utah, Texas, Nevada, numerous East Coast locales... they actually want the experience.

      I'm not sure it's quite as bad as the article paints it, at least at Google. I can't speak for the rest of Silicon Valley.

      Google recruited and hired me at age 42 (I'm also 46), and my first team had a large percentage of older guys, including many in their 50s and a few in their 60s. That team actively sought out more experienced engineers because of the nature of the work it did. In other teams, including my current team, I see no evidence of any active age bias, for or against. I'm older than most of my

      • by fhage ( 596871 )
        As an older programmer with 30+ years experience I've not bothered to apply at Google because of their reputation of only hiring a homogeneous group of young PhD's and placing them in large, open, work environments. My local paper shows all the toys and "perks" that Google offers their employees who stay at work for long periods. That kind of environment is unattractive and kills creativity.

        I've also read that Google is quite stingy about vacation time. I think Google would benefit from hiring people l

        • Pretty much everything you know about Google's work environment is wrong :-)

          I did feel a little shorted on vacation when I first started. They gave me three weeks to start. Three years in it jumped to four, which was better. When I hit my five-year anniversary in a few months I'll have five, which is pretty comfortable. You can also go up to one week in the hole on vacation time, which provides a little more flexibility. I don't think it's so bad.

          • Pretty much everything you know about Google's work environment is wrong :-)

            Oh, I should mention the "large, open work environment" is NOT wrong. Google thinks that facilitates communication. I'm not so sure, but they give everyone a nice set of headphones, so you can isolate when you need to. Within Google culture it's mildly unacceptable to talk to someone without messaging them first, even if they sit right next to you, which also helps with being able to reduce interruption (it's acceptable to say "no, I can't talk now").

    • I say this as a 46-year-old... I'm able to find plenty of opportunities ...

      In my experience (being 57), there seems to something about the number 50. In my 40es I was still able to walk from one company to another, it seems, but after I turned 50, I was 'old'. Never mind the fact that my health is excellent, that I an physically very active and get along extremely well with especially younger colleagues, never mind my long experience; I'm old.

      Perhaps what us old geezers should get together and start our own companies and compete the crap out of those young idiots that start compan

  • Here's how it works (Score:5, Informative)

    by Notorious G ( 4223193 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:19AM (#50757883)
    I have a pretty good resume - almost 20 years of experience at the Fortune 500/Global 1000 level as a programmer, consultant and technical sales. I have published 2 books. Last year, I got laid off from IBM in one of their annual "resource actions". My resume skews me younger though because I graduated from college in the mid-1990's ( I went to the military for a stretch before college). If you look only at my resume, you may think I'm in my 30's or early 40's (I am nearly 50). I sent my resume out to a metric crapton of companies in the silicon valley area and went through a number of interviews. Here's how one went for a technical sales resource. I started off with a local team of sales guys in my hometown. This went well despite one of the sales guys looking like he was on the tail end of a 4 day bender and tweaking pretty hard. The feedback I got from the recruiter was very positive with the biggest comment being, "We can close sales with this guy!" So they fly me out to SJC for the face to face. Now, I'm no spring chicken but I do run marathons and half marathons and my extensive background in marital arts pretty much means I could kick the crap out of any one at that office (during my lay off, I worked security at a high profile venue for a TV show). However, there is some gray at the temples and my hair is a little thinner than it used to be. Of the 7 people I interviewed with in SJC, 5 made direct comments about my age and asked if I thought it would be a problem - as in, "Do you think your age will be a problem here?" and "Tell me about a time you worked with younger people and what the challenges were" and "When did say you graduated college?", etc. etc. After the interviews, the asshole recruiter congratulated me on my willingness to answer and insights into this line of questioning that violated California as well as federal law. They are, shockingly, very comfortable with ignoring the laws in Silicon Valley regarding discrimination. Had I not been out of a job, I'd never have entertained them further but I was in a bind so I had to put up with it. Needless to say, I did not get a job offer. This is the most blatant of them but every company in Silicon Valley I spoke with took the same line. Every. Single. One.
    • you wear a hidden microphone. Surely there is a lawyer willing to work with you to squeeze this mf's for every dollar they have.

    • I am nearly 50....[they asked] "Tell me about a time you worked with younger people and what the challenges were"

      I've heard that kind of questioning back even when I was in my early 40's, in multiple interviews. IT runs in dog-years or something.

      Companies often don't value experience because they cannot "see" the benefits of it. Most of the managers are short-term thinkers and the 60-hour code-monkey mentality gets you quicker short-term results in the latest IT fad.

      However, if you care about 5 years out

  • Older people just don't give a shit about what Facebook, Twitter, etc are doing. Facebook has recruited me heavily the but I have no interest in anything they do. I am not going to uproot my family to work for FB, Twitter, etc.

    At an old 33, I prefer to work on either my own company or optionally if that wasn't there, companies which share my passions.

    Young People are great to hire because they'll work their fingers to the bones for some abstract promise, but once you build a family and a life, working
  • by clifwlkr ( 614327 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:20AM (#50757891)
    I was at a 'hot' company a little over a year ago. They literally had the who's who of silicon valley and the east coast investing in them. I figured it was a great opportunity to be involved with at the time. Then I was sitting in a company wide meeting (kind of a pep rally that happened every week) and the head guy gets up and says exactly this:

    "Look around you. Notice you don't see very much grey hair? That's on purpose. We want people on they way up, not their way out!"

    I was shocked that they would be so blatant about it. Not even a hesitation in a corporate wide meeting of 500 people and recorded to boot. If I didn't care about torpedoing my own career, I would have filed a suit that day, being 44 at the time. Funny thing was their code was some of the worst I have ever seen and was having to re-write large portions of it do to the horrible architecture and coding patterns in place. Literally in just a few months I had re-written what was not working for their largest clients and had it running in a fraction of the time. The desperately needed people with experience.

    Once I heard that I put my resume out to a couple of people, had a job offer within two weeks, and am making 50% more than I was there anyways with rapid promotion within a few months, and been at my current job exactly a year now. So in the long run, their loss. But I can tell you it is in fact real and blatant out there.

    That said as a programmer if you keep your skills up, there are still plenty of jobs out there. It's just a bit more work than it should be to find a good one.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I worked a brief stint as an IT recruiter. I observed age discrimination for tech workers 50+ in almost every sector, except Government.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by creimer ( 824291 )
      My current I.T. support contract is with the government. At 46-years-old, I'm one of the youngest on the team. Most of my coworkers are in their 50's and 60's. The work is more demanding than a Fortune 500 company, but it pays well, I get federal holidays off, three weeks of paid time off, and a full benefit package. The only thing that's missing is a gold watch and pension.
  • An average age of 30 would suggest a pretty robust distribution of workers up to 40 as well. Those people would have gotten degrees in the late 1990s. I did my EE degree in the early 2000s and back then CS was still considered a bit of a specialist degree with uncertain career prospects compared to engineering. Of course since then the industry has absolutely exploded.

    Could the reason for the lack of above 40 workers be that there are simply far less CS people in that age group? I mean, going forward to 50

    • Umm... you do realize there have been people programming since the 50's right? The world of computers did not begin in the 1980's with the personal computer, but several decades earlier with mainframes.
  • I am going to retire early in a few years at age 55. I don't plan on continuing in the tech world where you are expected to work 70 hour weeks every week. I don't mind doing it occasionally, but every week? I get dirty looks every time I leave the office before 6pm, which is most days.

    Worse, I'm the only coder in my department that maintains a particular huge code base I've developed over the past 15 years or so. I've told the PHBs that they need to hire someone new so I can train them for the next coup

  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:35AM (#50758045) Homepage

    They're all fabulously wealthy patriarchs who run the world.

  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @10:45AM (#50758139)

    It could just be that the people with experience (and wisdom to go with it) want nothing to do with Silicon Valley.

    In the IT dept I'm in here in the Dallas area, I would say the average age is somewhere between 40-45.

    Funny thing... our EVP came from a place that hired a lot of those cheaper people and outsourced/off-shored a lot. He was absolutely boggled that our department managed to successfully complete over 40 major "combined arms" projects in a year (with barely that many employees), where the places he'd been previously could barely manage 4 with a similar number of people. So they're paying maybe 50% more, and getting 1000% more.

    Oh, and we're all generally able to keep it to between 7-9 hrs/day, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2015 @11:05AM (#50758307)

    I'm 70 and I've been working in the computer industry for 49 years, the last 28 years in Silicon Valley. These days I work for a very large company and I manage projects and architect solutions. I enjoy my job immensely and I've never had a day of unemployment.

    9 months ago I announced my intention to retire at age 70, at my wife's request. My manager's reaction was to ask if I could stay (with a salary increase) until they found someone to replace me. Two weeks ago I told him I would definitely be leaving when I hit 71.

    I'm not even the oldest person I know in the company. There's a well respected QA engineer who is 74 right now.

    I guess some companies in Silicon Valley actually do value the ability to get projects completed on time, and without fuss or drama.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @11:10AM (#50758359)
    The headline implies "Silicon Valley" is trying to fix some diversity issue. Who is the submitter referring to by "Silicon Valley"? Maybe there is a group or two of self-proclaimed activists, but I don't see that they represent Silicon Valley.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @11:16AM (#50758419)

    I can see lots of reasonable explanations -- older people have more experience and demand higher salaries, older people have more life commitments and are less likely to work "epic hours", and maybe even older people have higher health care costs even.

    I'm curious how the average age of managers relates to this. As humans, we're raised by adults -- people usually 20 or more years older than us and for the better part of the first 20-25 years of our life, ALL of our authority figures are people older than us. Historically, hiring and promotion practices have meant that managers and more senior employees were also older than the people they managed, even if this got somewhat blurred past age 40 or so.

    I wonder if at a given company if you have a lot of senior managers in their early-mid 30s if there's not something intimidating, awkward or socially uncomfortable for a manager to be managing someone who psychologically somehow represents an authority figure to you. I can believe some manager in their early 30s feels like they are the authority figure when dealing with 20-somethings, but when they're dealing with someone in the mid-40s they are dealing with someone where that kind of natural authority is just lacking.

    And I can believe it works the other way around -- it can be awkward working for someone who is much younger than you. Seldom are they gifted or experienced enough to avoid the mistakes someone more experienced -- not just in work, but in life -- wouldn't make. And it can create real friction to have that gap -- the manager hates being second guessed, and the employee resents extra work that's a byproduct of inexperience, especially when proffered advice is ignored because a manager is trying to flex their authority.

    I wonder if maybe this isn't the real source of the problem.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      I was a lead video game tester in my 30's and the 20-something supervisors assigned the older testers (30's, 40's and 50's) to my group, who expected to be treated like adults and not micromanaged to death. Once I gave them their assignments for the day, I trusted them to deliver the results and let me know if they have problems. We were pros, behaved like pros, and we got the job done. Can't say the same thing about the younger testers fresh out of high school or college.
  • he government has specific age-bias laws in place which prohibit hiring/firing on the basis of age. It is against the law. And yet, SV gets away with it on a massive scale. They will do mass layoffs where virtually everyone laid off is over 30. I have seen this myself.

    Just so anyone who supposes that the 1% actually have to abide by laws the 99% pass can revise their views They're completely and flagrantly lawless whenever they feel like it, and they're not afraid of the government.

  • by michael.o.church ( 4299721 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @11:59AM (#50758837)
    I know that not everyone reading this is a fan of labor unions, and there have been a lot of corrupt, failed, and ineffective unions out there. All of that said, software engineers would be better off if they had some sort of collective bargaining option and representation (which may be more of a "lightweight union" like the Screen Actors' Guild). The tech barons (the VCs and their puppet CEOs called "founders") know this and the original purpose for driving out the older engineers was to prevent unionization. The pampered, socially awkward, and privileged (if disempowered) 25-year-olds who work in tech companies don't have the organizational skills or the credibility that would enable them to start unions, but older engineers could. That was the original reason to drive them out: a terror in the Valley that some sort of collective bargaining arrangement would form, ending the resource-extraction bonanza surrounding self-undervaluing talent. Most of the ageism is superficially about something else. Open plan offices and "Agile"/Scrum became big due to ageism-- older programmers, even if they're very competent, can't stand that nonsense-- but now they're about "culture", whatever the fuck that is supposed to be. Mostly, "culture" is about keeping the young male quixotry machine going, by driving out the people who might threaten it. This also means that the VC-funded startups are designed to run on large teams of mediocre programmers instead of the "10x" very good ones (who powered the first wave of startups in the 1980s and early '90s) who tend to be older and harder to manipulate.
  • Coming to Everyone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @12:24PM (#50759053) Homepage
    Rest assured, unemployment will continue to rise in the future. There is no going back.
    Computers, Software and Robotics will increase "productivity" to the point to where less and less people, be they in the US or anywhere else, will be left without a job or an income.

    You can guarantee "think tanks" are thinking about this right now.

    How will First World society function when there is 20% unemployment? 50%?
    Especially in a Social Darwinist society like the US?

    Answer:
    It Won't
    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      With the baby boomers retiring en masse, the I.T. industry is expecting to have a critical shortage of skilled workers in the next 20 years. All those computers, software and robotics still need workers to maintain them in the future. Not all those workers will be imported from Southeast Asia.

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