Many of the Bay Area’s tech companies are populated by young employees in their 20s and 30s. “Young people are just smarter,” Mark Zuckerberg said back in 2007, noting they have “simpler lives,” without having to spend time on partners or kids. Now job applicants in their 50s and 60s are reporting that they color gray hairs, wear Converse sneakers, and get cosmetic surgery to compete with a younger work force. Is age discrimination a real problem in the Bay Area tech world?

Norman Matloff, professor of computer science at UC Davis
Connie Brock, career advisor and facilitator at ProMatch, a networking program for job-seeking professionals
Suzie Wong, analytics talent acquisition sourcer for eBay; and former marketing manager at HP
Cliff Palefsky, attorney at McGuinn, Hillsman & Palefsky, who represents workers who have been terminated or passed over for promotions in age discrimination cases
Maggie Popplewell, project manager and electronic data interchange expert
David Burstein, author of "Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World"

  • publius


    Special Report: Silicon Valley’s dirty secret – age bias

    Tue, Nov 27 2012

    By Sarah McBride


    In Silicon Valley, age can be a curse

    Andrew S. Ross

    Tuesday, August 20, 2013

  • DrGeneNelson

    Is Silicon Valley’s Youth Movement Really Just Age Discrimination?

    By Tom Kaneshige, CIO
    August 19, 2013 03:38 PM ET


    CIO – The alarming turn of events at one of Silicon Valley’s stalwart, iconic companies leaves many older Silicon Valley techies with more evidence in support of a legitimate gripe: They’re losing their jobs to younger people….

    • marte48

      you won’t be so glib when it happens to you.

  • DrGeneNelson

    July 23, 2013, 10:23 am 129 Comments

    Big Data Analysis Adds to Guest Worker Debate – Bits blog at New York Times


    SAN FRANCISCO — Although certain kinds of engineers are in short supply in the United States, plenty of potential candidates exist for thousands of positions for which companies want to import guest workers, according to an analysis of three million résumés of job seekers in the United States…..

    Documentation of employment age discrimination appears near the end of the article where several “high tech” firms are profiled.

  • wandagb

    “Young people are just smarter,” Mark Zuckerberg said…

    And just how old were the college teachers who taught these ‘young people’?

    What Zuckerberg and his ilk mean are younger people are more willing to work 60 hours a week and more.

    • Lawrence

      I’m older but I typically do computer programming 80 hours a week. When I’m working, half of that is on unpaid open source projects. When not working, all of it is recreational. People put in the hours because they love the work. But we programmers of all ages must always be trying to learn new technologies, even if those technologies are in fact not truly new (the cloud), and whether those technologies are wonderful or crap.

      I will tell you a secret I’ve learned being surrounded by 20-somethings: Most young people in tech don’t have a great love for programming. In fact they hate it. They don’t volunteer for open source projects. They don’t care about freedom. They just want the MONEY.

      • utera

        Which is a huge mistake of those “women in tech” type feminist type agendas.
        Anyways this “aging out” issue kind of shows that the best thing women do is ignore feminist advice. The careers women do get into as majorities today are in the medical field where you don’t age out, you are union protected in most cases. But we still hear the “women in tech” oh its a catastrophe more women aren’t choosing this industry stories on kqed and npr every couple months or so…

  • Dana Garcia

    Talk about callow billionaires — Zuck is tops!

    • marte48

      He is obviously lacking in maturity. He became a billionaire by stealing someone else’s brilliant idea that girls like Harvard “men”, and that Harvard “men” like to look at photos of girls, and everyone wants to know who is dating whom. What a genius!

  • RodB

    Ever notice that most HR people in tech companies seem to be in their early 20’s?

    • marte48

      That’s because they aren’t experienced engineers. Corps want them when they are 30-45.

      • marte48

        …and “over the hill” engineers, or those who can’t or don’t want to work as hard, resort to being HR reps. You might notice a donut hole in HR.

  • DrGeneNelson

    Professor Norm Matloff’s H-1B Web Page
    The H-1B work visa is fundamentally about cheap, de facto
    indentured labor

    The tech industry lobbyists portray H-1B as a remedy for labor shortages and as a means of hiring “the best and the brightest” from around the world. Though I strongly support that latter goal, the lobbyists’ “best and brightest” claims are not valid.

    The vast majority of H-1Bs, including those hired from U.S. universities, are ordinary people doing ordinary work, not the best and the brightest. On the contrary, the average quality of the H-1Bs is LOWER than that of the Americans.

    Furthermore, vast majority of H-1Bs, again including those hired from U.S. universities, are NOT doing work for which qualifed Americans are unavailable.

    Instead of being about talent, H-1B is about cheap, immobile labor:

    Employers accrue Type I wage savings by paying H-1Bs less than
    comparable Americans (U.S. citizens and permanent residents).

    Employers accrue Type II wage savings by hiring younger, thus
    cheaper, H-1Bs in lieu of older, thus more expensive (age 35+) Americans.

    Both types of wage savings are fully LEGAL, due to loopholes in the law and regulations. The problem is NOT one of lack of enforcement…..


    • geraldfnord

      Working at a ‘permanent’ position with an high level of pay and benefits is not particularly secure when the same firm employs a large number of overseas and H-1B workers at lower wages…even if you keep your job, you’re more easily cowed and (if sane) will put up with much more nonsense, and that’s the kind of worker they like (in practice).

      Thank God I’m not entirely sane, and very hard to cow, man.

  • DrGeneNelson

    Motivation For Hiring Alien Workers?
    Hint: It’s Not a Labor Shortage
    By David NorthAugust 2013

    Why do U.S.-based employers, who are quite happy to make things in the United States, sell things to American consumers, and accept lush contracts and tax-breaks from Uncle Sam, want to hire temporary foreign workers, such as those in the H-1B program?

    They make two basic arguments: 1) there are labor shortages that hamper production; and 2) many of the firms claim that they cannot hire the “best and the brightest” without looking beyond the citizen and green card workforce.

    In reality, the employers’ motivation is primarily to cut labor costs by hiring less expensive foreign workers, but it is more complex than that in many cases; there are three other factors, rarely mentioned, that underpin the decision to seek nonimmigrant workers:

    All temporary alien workers are indentured by the terms of admission to the United States, and do not have the ability to fend for themselves as do citizen and green card workers. When is the last time you read about temporary foreign workers forming a union?

    Temporary alien workers are, in addition to their indentured status, recruited from among docile, authority-fearing Third World populations and are thus relatively easy to manage. When is the last time you read of massive admissions of temporary workers from lands with strong histories of worker rights, such as Canada, Sweden, or Germany?

    Temporary alien workers are often younger than the work force as a whole, and employers can use (and rig) the rules to hire primarily young people via the visa route…..


    • marte48

      That’s right. They have no legal rights, and American corps like it that way. They also pay taxes, including SS taxes, which they will never collect. But they are generally from the upper class in India, and so are educated, docile, polite, discreet, diplomatic and used to driving a Lexus.

  • Evelyn Mills

    It is still about cheaper labor..Back in the day you were referred to as being over the hill. At least you had the ambition to get up the hill,many of young people today don’t even have enough ambition to get up the hill.

    • marte48

      They are discouraged because of the ageism stories they have been told by their parents.

  • Weltanschauung

    I’ve certainly experienced age discrimination in the tech industry. Now I can say I know how black people feel dealing with racists, or what women go through dealing with sexist men. And I can tell you, young people who are ageist usually exhibit other forms of discrimination. I’ve seen sexism, religious bigotry, political bias, homophobia (for example the latent homosexual Muslim who acted paranoid about a “Pink Mafia” comprised of gays), classism and racism.

    Encouraging ageism in young people like Zuckerberg has done is like giving cigarettes and alcohol to children.

  • pwc1011

    The cycle of young and immigrant technology workers, not only has an immediate negative impact, but more importantly, a long-term impact as the young get older and the immigrants become citizens and demand more. The young suddenly find themselves needing to support a family, which increases their economic needs. The immigrant workers, become citizens and bring in their families, and find themselves with the same economic wants. Alas, the young and once immigrant now are victims of the same cruel practice and find themselves unemployed or under-employed, and now join the many who pull more from our economy than they contribute… which of course impacts everyone.

    If these practices do not end, the only satisfaction will be that those who create this mess will be the very ones who suffer its consequences. I believe the first step is to stop giving jobs to immigrants. As salaries increase, the incentives for our young to go into technology will again also increase. Moreover, as unemployment decreases, our economy will strengthen.

    The sooner we ALL realize we are ALL dependent upon this country and the economy, the sooner we can get down to making the right choices for Americans.

    • marte48

      The nineteenth century saw the same tendencies, and formed the Union Movement to protect everyone from the mindless greed of corporations. (Unfortunately, the mob will go wherever the money does.)

      • pwc1011

        And unfortunately, the unions got greedy…

        Controlling immigration is the way to keep things equal in the tech industry.

        • marte48

          Greedy compared to who? Andrew Carnegie?

    • marte48

      As soon as we realize that we ALL live on planet Earth and that human rights are inalienable, not just for Americans, but for ALL human beings, will things get better for everyone. Immigrants – educated and uneducated – raise the standard of living for Americans – and always have – in spite of the objections and xenophobia that reoccurs with every generation. What we need is limits on the ultra rich. No one needs to be a billionaire.

  • geraldfnord

    Warning: anecdote is inherently inferior to statistics:

    Warning: ‘Man is the rationalising animal.’

    I am loathe to make claims about which I can’t be certain, and it’s extremely ungraceful to cite discrimination when it’s not in play, or when other discrimination in one’s favour is ignored, but:

    I interviewed with <TOP-FLIGHT EMPLOYER> over the phone; they liked me. They sent me a test, I passed it. The above was repeated, followed by an additional phone-screen. They seemed enthusiastic, and flew me out cross-country for a day of interviews.

    I could swear that the faces of the first engineers with whom I spoke fell the moment the saw me…that didn’t help me do well on the first interview, so my remembering a similar reaction on the second interview may well be faulty. I was told after lunch that interviewing me for the afternoon would not be necessary, and I was thanked and wished a pleasant trip home.

    Now, I have all sorts of advantages: innate verbal and mathematical creativity, a childhood that ranged between straitened-but-adequate circumstances and eventual upper-middle-class membership, white[-enough] skin, enough brains to allow an high-functioning place on the autistic spectrum, the implicit affection for that condition in high-tech companies…and some of those are unfair prejudices in my favour. And it is entirely possible that most of the programmers I know in this high-tech town think that I am among the brightest people they know and that I was unsuitable for Google—what they wanted might just might not have been what they thought they could expect from me. Maybe I’m good at giving the impression of being bright, but am actually a fraud through which they could see….

    But it really did seem as if I bore the Mark of Cain (in the common sense, as opposed to the protective sense of the original story) in some wise, and looking forty-five might well have been it.

    (I regret having skimped on lunch, not wanting to interview with a stomach full of truffled mashed potatoes and good, roast, beef and saag paneer…I ended-up having the worst phở of my life, the beef reminiscent of McDonald’s, at a place in Mountain View…but perhaps my perceptions of taste and smell were affected by self-loathing and a bad case of the {‘why do I even bother’}s only somewhat curable by ‘You need the money.’)

    • marte48

      I had similar experiences. As a woman, it’s like trying to find a date after 50 or 60. Everyone wants younger people.

    • Pluteski

      Culture is certainly a big part of hiring… smarter firms that truly want diversity could perhaps use blind-test interviews. seeking true diversity means balancing all aspects , including not just gender and ancestry but life experience.

    • marte48

      The question is: how do you act smart enough and yet not intimidate the interviewers?

      • Ttk Ciar

        One trick that works is to be entertaining about it.

        What else works? I’d love to see others speak to this.

        • marte48

          Ah, yes, I have worked with “entertainers’ who make everyone’s day less boring, but who leave the company with everyone else, except with no technical skills.

  • geraldfnord

    Lest we be over-prideful:

    Would we here act better in the principals’ places, given their incentive structure? I will guess, if only for the sake of comity, that many here would in fact so do, but I have my doubts about myself.

    I will also guess that even when they’re excluding older workers and hiring H-1B workers because they’re easier or more profitable feedstock, most of them have other reasons they think are the ‘real’ ones thereto.

    This doesn’t mean we should go along with these abuses, but it does mean that we shouldn’t feel too different to the ones acting badly—it is both unfair and also underestimates them, as (generally) people are more resistant to change if they believe they’re doing the right thing. (…and more willing to believe they’re doing the right thing if their salaries depend on that proposition.)

  • Mare Bear

    My coworker directly told me she does not like working with older people; she does not collaborate and minimally cooperates.

  • Pontifikate

    It’s not just the tech world that discriminates against older people. It’s advertising, it’s hospitality, fashion, it’s almost every business. And yet age provides perspective, something sorely needed in every industry including finance, government, etc. Surely, your job, Mr. Krasny, benefits from your vast experience. No?

    • marte48

      Yes, and we love him for it!

  • $11165038

    A lack of perspective is probably part of it as well. Young people think they will be young forever and that they know it all. They don’t realize they will be in their 40’s and 50’s eventually. It is sad that American society worships youth and beauty over wisdom and experience.

  • Greg

    I disagree with the idea that older people don’t get the new trends – I get it, and I can put it in context and I’m 54!

    • Pontifikate

      Ah, context! You’ve nailed why older heads are necessary in any mix.

  • Greg

    cmon Michael – the idea that younger people know any technology better is simple wrong.

  • Kenneth Hensel

    He meant to say that young people are easier to control and manipulate and force to spend their entire lives slaving away for somebody else!

  • Arthur

    Consider the case of Brian Reid v. Google. He was hired, then pushed aside because of not fitting in with youth culture. His case went up to the California Supreme Court, then probably settled out of court. He was extraordinary well qualified and talented when he was pushed aside. See http://abusergoestowork.com/tag/brian-reid/

  • Julia

    What happens when THESE “young people” start to marry, have kids, etc? Will companies cycle THEM out?

    • Ttk Ciar


  • haveahardtimeintech

    1) A lot of it is about “culture fit”, which is always a problem for any human endeavor. They want people that look like them and they want to hang out with. These are young white males who want to go out for beers and hack all night. There’s a meme of sorts “explain it to me like I’m your mom”. You have to fight against that stereotype of being a tech-illiterate mom or dad.
    2) They want the best value for money, which is young in their career (cost less to hire) and can devote all of their time to the company (no children, no health problems, no life obligations).
    3) Experience is not valuable in technology, agility is. Many older workers rest on their experience, and don’t demonstrate their agility.
    3) As a female developer, I have the same problems just being female, even though I’m not too old yet, in my early thirties. I make sure my online presence doesn’t reveal I also have 2 young children.
    4) I recently joined the tech world from biomedical sciences, and we have the same problem there. This is not just tech.

    • Pluteski

      +1 on 1), 2), 3). I also can vouch for the disproportionately low number of females in technology, still.

      However there are companies out there that seek true diversity across the board, usually because the founders/leaders are adults who prefer to work with other adults, or view younger workers as treating each position as a temporary stepping stone.

      Balanced company cultures do exist out there, but you have to look a bit harder and use your network.

      You should always teach yourself new skills and tools.

  • chetwynde

    I disagree with the comment that “one you hit 35” you’re suddenly at a disadvantage, due to “pricing” yourself, family or anything else. I’m 31, a professional programmer and that seems utterly absurd. Comment please?

    • Ttk Ciar

      In my experience (as a 41yo software engineer) there’s some truth to it, but it may be overstated.

      I’ve mostly avoided age discrimination, but have seen the signs. There is a cultural and educational gap between us and the millenials, which gives rise to social disconnect and outright mistrust.

      The younger generation is more knowledgeable about and comfortable with the latest technology and programming paradigms, but has weird gaps in their college education, and is ignorant of technological achievements which already solved hard problems still relevant today. (“Those ignorant of UNIX are doomed to re-invent it, poorly.”)

      This creates a disconnect when trying to work together, because we older folks want to refer back to concepts and technologies our younger coworkers don’t know much about and don’t want to know about, while younger coworkers do the same with cutting-edge technologies.

      At the same time, management (even older management) *loves* to listen to young people talk about the new technologies. Those of us who learn about event-driven asynchronous reactor callback frameworks and the like can relate them back to tried and true technologies, and make them play well together, but few of us can talk about them as compellingly.

      Sheer strength of skillset can overcome some age bias, but there’s a limit, because it’s a visceral, subjective thing, not an objective, intellectual phenomenon.

      I’ve been at companies which never would have hired me, because they only hire cheap youngsters fresh out of college, but acquired me when they bought my employer. Most of my coworkers fled the sinking ship in the first month, but a few of us stuck around. My new employers didn’t know what to do with me — HR was lost, the new management seemed bewildered, and I got bumped around a bit until I found a niche in a division run by an older (also via acquisition) software architect. We worked quite well together, and if the office hadn’t been >100 miles from home I might still be working there.

      The point of this anecdote is that corporate culture matters. If all you have is screwdrivers, you’re going to use screws and discard nails. If your employees only know how to work with young people, they’re going to shun the old.

      So, believe it. Drawing a line at 35 might be a bit pessimistic, but definitely by 40 doors start to close.

      I have advice for staving it off, some you’ve heard before and other you might not.

      First, keep on top of the latest trends in the technology, and learn to use it the way the contemporary culture uses it. You’ve heard this before.

      Second, talk to twenty-somethings, and if something seems nonsensical or outright wrong, don’t dismiss it. Grab onto it with both hands, and learn everything you can about it. You may discover that it is indeed wrong, but it is still a concept which will define how you think about and work with technology. Learn the terminology. Make it work for you.

      The alternative is to stand helplessly by as your input is shunned and your coworkers go off the rails, crash the train, and blame you for not helping.

      • marte48

        The new becomes the old very much sooner than expected.

      • Lawrence

        Let’s say hypothetically at 40 you can’t find a job programming (I’ve done it, but whatever).

        Does that stop you from programming? No. If you love it, you will volunteer your skills toward open source projects, or start your own company, or write apps and put them in the app store.

        People who have no initiative are the walking dead. They fill the corporations, which is why corporations need their lobbyists to scam the system.

        • Ttk Ciar

          I’ve done it, too, but overcoming a problem doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist.

          Agreed that an engineer *will* engineer, whether you pay them to do it or not. Those who only engineer for pay are posers. At the same time, one must pay the bills.

          Did you mean that people without initiative fill the *large* companies? It’s been my experience that the smaller companies are full of go-getters and self-motivated overachievers.

    • Ttk Ciar

      I wanted to clarify something about my previous post: The disparity in education is nothing new. My father and grandfather were also engineers, and I’ve looked at their textbooks. My grandfather had a better education than my father, and my father had a better education than me.

      My younger friends and coworkers, like I said, have some strange gaps in their college education. In particular, math skills have deteriorated, and colleges don’t seem to teach software development methodology anymore (though they do teach more languages, protocols, and other tools than they did when I was in college).

      So the educational disparity is a trend which has been with us for generations, and will likely stick with us for generations to come. As you get older, you too will find weird and frustrating gaps between your education and theirs.

      Expect it, and figure out how to deal with it.

      • marte48

        Those older generations had something we don’t have anymore – apprenticeships! Very different from the unpaid “internships” that require all the latest expertise, and do not teach anyone anything. In fact they expect that the “intern” will teach them!

    • marte48

      no, it’s more like 45! Then, the fairy godmother comes down and pays your rent for you…

    • hoapres

      You are clueless.

      Wait until you are 35.

  • david@coldcreektech.com

    What most older workers don’t understand (at least in the tech world in the Bay area) is that their definition of “experience” is often NOT a benefit, but rather a millstone around their necks. The technology systems and the development organizational methodologies, that are in use now aren’t the way things are done now.

    If you’ve been an expert in your field and technology for a decade you’re a dinosaur. Why? Because what you do have been reinvented twice during that time, and your big company (HP, Cisco, etc…) is getting killed in the marketplace by better solutions from faster moving companies, with more dynamic ideas from younger workers who understand intuitively that stasis is career death,

    The real discrimination in the marketplace isn’t age-based it is anti-mediocrity. The fault lies not in their stars, but in their selves.

    If older workers were truly more productive than these young workers who seem to be wining all the jobs, wouldn’t one of these older “smart” managers build a company with all these outstanding workers who are so much better than the 20-somethings who don’t understand the value of the gravitas of these underutilized, underemployed experienced workers?

    This report sounds like just a lot on Baby Boomer whining. Work harder, be more adaptive, always be looking at how the world is changing around you and get ahead of the curve. If you don’t, you’re just plain lazy.

    • RodB

      You have a narrow view of experience, believing that people learn only once and then stop.
      My experience gives me a grounding for everything else that I can learn, but adds knowledge of what has been tried and worked or did not.
      By the way, a lot of successful startups are begun by older people in tech. The younger ones get the press, the older ones more often create the successes.

    • David VomLehn

      I am an expert in my field and have remained so for decades because I keep learning, discarding old knowledge and picking up new. I never let myself get stale. Yet, because you seem to see this as an “us young guys vs. you old guys” issue, I fear that you are at risk for becoming just as much a dinosaur. I have lots of saurian friends my age; for your sake, I hope you do not wind up like them.

      • marte48

        In the video game industry, the very old is suddenly very new again – myths, art, storylines, etc. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

    • Ttk Ciar

      Yes and no.

      It’s been understood for decades that engineers must keep up with the latest technologies in order to remain relevant and employable.

      It’s also true that some modern innovations might never have come about (at least not in their current form) if engineers had adhered to traditional methodologies.

      On the other hand, to believe that “re-invention” and “new way of doing things” renders more mature technologies and proven methodologies irrelevant is the height of hubris.

    • marte48

      Don’t you think we said the same thing at your age? Just wait! It will happen to you, no matter how hard or how smart you think you are! (And you could also use a course in English grammar.)

    • Lawrence

      The corporations are filled with do-nothings, of ALL ages.

      The real and true competition is not for any job, but for cutting-edge jobs.

      I used to pity the shlubs whose stated goal is to work at mega-corporation XYZ.

    • Leslie Fitch

      Aging is not an option.

  • I’m quite active in the Meetup space – one of the strangest things I’ve encountered is seeing 60 year old folks showing up to a heavily technical meetup – say on cloud security. Their experience is focused around decades of cobol programming, and they show up looking to get enlightenment, but are so out of touch they can’t really “network” with folks.

    I’m an “old” (late 30s) startup guy – I try not to discriminate based on sex, age, identity, etc. But any individual, or group of individuals, needs to put some effort into updating their skillset so they can stay marketable in the workforce.

    • David VomLehn

      True. And chosing not to hire someone because they are missing the required skillset is not discrimination. But assuming that someone doesn’t have the skillset because of their age *is* discrimination.

      So, when some 60 year old folks show up at your meetings, welcome them. They are actively working to acquire what they see as needed skillsets. Mostly likely, you learned what you know as it was shared with you at college. Well, these people are counting on you to share with them as it was shared with you. Help set the tone so that, when you are 60, you can get the help you need to keep up with the field.

      And while we’re at it, my degree was Physics and until a couple of years ago, I never took a computer class. Everything I know about computers I learned on my own. With a *lot* of help from other people.

      • Completely agree. I do try to engage with those folks (all folks) when I can. I grew up as a shy overlooked nerd (and student of Dr. Matloff) so I try to bring others into the crowd when I can, *when they show interest*.

        A significant number of folks in information worker type careers come from non computer-science backgrounds…

      • Kenji Yamada

        I’m 30 years old and I applaud this comment.

  • erictremont

    It may be true that technical workers over the age of 50 are more likely to be overweight, suffer from chronic illnesses, be less flexible, less interested in learning new ways of doing things, etc. But it isn’t true across the board. Those of you who feel compelled to defend current IT sector hiring practices need to become familiar with the concept of statistical discrimination.

  • Guest

    As a member of Generation X I have always been under the leadership of the Baby Boom generation in my professional life. No one in my age bracket (that I know) has been given the leadership reins without them being take back fast. If we leave a job we are not quite young or baby boomer powerful enough to get a new one. PS We’ve all got Macs too- easy peasy! Just curious.

  • Lois Fisher Moore

    The father of a friend was laid off by Lockheed on July1 after 25 years of service to the company. He would have been eligible for retirement in November. Is there anyone who would not say this is morally wrong?

    The Silicon Valley needs to unionize.

    • marte48

      It has all happened before, and will happen again. It makes us all cynics.

    • hoapres

      If you had a steady job for 25 years then hopefully one saved up enough money to retire. Lockheed used to have a decent severance package.

  • Lawrence

    Does anybody here remember the website F*ckedCompany?

    They made layoffs fun, ironically.


  • Pluteski

    “Young work longer hours” .. they tend to shift their schedule forwards, arrive at work 2.5 hours later. Because people notice who’s staying ‘later’ it may SEEM as if they’re working longer hours.

  • anthonyfatta

    I don’t work in tech but I am a 26 year old pastor in Silicon Valley for the united Methodist church. Let it be known that ageism against young people is alive and well in other sectors of the job market. The average age of a umc pastor is about 56 years old. As a young clergy person, I am considered disrespectful and privileged rather regularly when I am just trying to do my job with dignity.

    • Lawrence

      Young people are less interested in religion, so perhaps your consumers want someone in their age range.
      By the way, did you know that Jesus had a brother James, who continued Jesus’s preaching after Jesus died?

  • Pluteski

    Younger workers take many more hours ‘off’ throughout every day for coffee, lunch, play, casual chatting, whereas seasoned pros, especially the workers who are parents, tend to be more focused during their time in office and are hands-on for a higher portion of the hours they spend in office.

  • Pluteski

    The “smarter” tag is a misnomer … many younger workers have astonishingly poor memories, poor judgment, and poor lookahead and risk assessment skills. If an older worker displayed such a memory lapse or lapse in judgment they’d be suspect of having a senior moment… younger workers are prone to stress-related memory lapse like anyone else, more experienced seasoned pros have developed coping skills for handling stress.

    Younger workers soon want to have find mates, have kids, buy homes, just like everyone else, so they soon have all the same distractions but without the practice at handling them.

  • abigrrrl

    where are the female programmers/ software engineers, etc?

    • marte48

      That’s me! I went back to school at 50 to study HTML. Now all they are looking for is javascript engineers.

      • Lawrence

        So? Learn Javascript.

        • marte48

          That’s like saying, they are only looking for violinists!

          • marte48

            I have been doing javascript to some degree for 15 years (see Doug Crockford’s talk on YT) but it is never enough! Do you program?

  • Greg Free

    Surprised Seth Godin hasn’t been mentioned. Yes, this is about least cost factor(s) of production. Yes, I prefer to say “their loss”, but truth is _we_ have lined up the incentives such that it’s our (society’s) collective loss. I think we are in a race to the bottom and are willfully dumbing down the workforce. I might add that I am the root of the root of the problem. My 401k needs to grow if I am to outrun the healthcare beast that wants to eat my retirement. I want, not viable businesses to invest in, but businesses that produce continual earnings growth. No more ma/pa on the corner for decades – up or out. Corners are cut in every direction for the sake of profit. Nothing built to last, because we run out of customers. Hire kids to code because they subsist on candy bars and caffeine and work 24/7. We broke the system with these incentives, created a banking system with no reserves and made a massive bet with the entire world’s wealth that was certain to fail. Please tell me we won’t do it again. Show me where we’ve put in stops to prevent a recurrence? Tell me the quadrillion of obligations out there won’t collapse.

    Much of what I hear about what I don’t get is insipid, although I confess there’s much I don’t want to get. Zuckerberg’s quote is amazingly naive. Somehow, kids eat better these days, and their brains work in ways superior to say, da Vinci’s?

    I do see massive redistribution across the shrinking globe. Perhaps tens of millions in the US lose jobs, but the number lifted out of poverty around the world approaches a billion. I lose as an elder unless and until I can prove my relevance. But that’s really the point. This, in my opinion is the timeless (age irrelevant) pearl. When I as a young person or I as a washed up techie living on social security understand myself well enough to deliver a unique value proposition, problem solved. Tougher problem to be sure, but everyone wins in this condition. The sooner we forget about _a_ skill that suits us for _a_ job, the better off we are.

    Age discrimination is undeniable, but legislation and lawsuits are thinner than tissue paper. Game over. Give it up and get on with it.

    • marte48

      Yup, this is all leading to Soylent Green! (Google it!)

  • Carlisle

    We have an invisible strata of middle aged poor who’ve been abandoned. It’s very sad to find formerly productive high tax paying employees who have to seek public assistance.

  • marte48

    I was layed off from Lockheed in 1993, along with 20,000 others. I was 45 and had 2 kids in school. Very few younger people know about the end of the Cold War in 1989 that forced the cuts of hundreds of thousands of jobs, just a few years before Netscape was released. The jobs that resulted from the release of DARPANet were very different from the jobs previously, even for those who had made the transition from the drafting table to the computer. In the 1980’s I had taught many co-workers, mostly men, how to use a computer for the first time. I was still let go. I took a $10,000 (25%) cut in pay to go to work in the videogame industry, for which my only prerequisite was being a good drawer, which was inevitably not enough. After a few years of doing vector based graphics (Adobe Illustrator) at fifty years old in 1998, I went back to school to learn HTML, which was by then appearing on every job description. For the past fifteen years, I have preached about going back to school and staying current. It’s not enough, it never will be. You have to hang on and do as much as you can to “stay current”, but the end will be the same. Everyone I worked with is half my age and the other gender, and from India. It’s not their fault, the same thing will happen to them.

  • roo02

    the past three years, the Legislature has IGNORED the UCLA/RAND
    report (Gary Blasi, co-author) on the STATEWIDE FAILURE to enforce the
    HOUSING ACT (FEHA), the first comprehensive review of the
    anti-discrimination employment statutes in the 50 years since its

    separate and unequal administrative and legal systems… provide little
    protection for employees in low-wage occupations, racial minorities,
    and women, with substantial disparities in access, outcome, and

    Senators Mark Leno, Ellen Corbett, and Bill Monning
    attended that 2/23/10 hearing as members of the Judiciary but have DONE
    NOTHING since then.

    Why isn’t Forum discussing this?

  • RG

    Just like our lying racist president, it appears he would just rather we would die. If you have noticed the way civil service hiring has gone…. Education has taken precedence over experience. Some of the jobs require a Masters for GS 5. When I was a personnel officer that was often a training position to teach you the specifics of what your job would be about. How many people with a Masters are going to be interested in training, much less going to listen to their supervisor. I know, when I was the Personnel Officer with years of experience, she refused to do some of the menial jobs I assigned and my boss bowed to her EDUCATION. Education without experience is worthless.

  • marte48

    ” …Now job applicants in their 50s and 60s are reporting that they color
    gray hairs, wear Converse sneakers, and get cosmetic surgery to compete
    with a younger work force…”
    Do they also change the dates on their driver’s license?

  • David VomLehn

    Bright people in their 20s and 30s with lots of energy make the same mistakes I made in my 20s and 30s. But, through a life-long commitment to learning, I now have a much greater base of knowledge. More importantly, I also have a broader perspective, something which requires time. The myth that younger people are more capable is one that, in some companies, is literally putting people’s lives at risk. The best approach is to balance the energy and excitement of younger employees with the wisdom and stability of more experienced employees and take advantage of encouraging everyone to learn and be invigorated by each other.

  • MattCA12

    There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for all of the “encumbrances” my middle age has brought me: my partner, my children, the rest of my family, my ties to my fellow citizens through our involvement in school and civic groups…and all the “extra” work that those bonds entail. If you find yourself surrounded by a bunch of young buck idiots right out of college, eager to sacrifice more of their lives for some employer who will dump them at the first sign of waning profits, take heart. As it has happened to you, it will to them as well. Look elsewhere for your sense of self. Work is a means, not an end. And it’s a small means at that.

  • mountain_webbie

    Interesting show. Note the number of comments. Discrimination is wrong and illegal, and no amount of excuses can make it right. Many of us, male and female, like myself, worked very hard to build the industry here in the Bay Area, have stayed current and also have developed professionalism and don’t deserve the rap of being outdated. We are being discriminated against and cheated out of a decent end to our careers by all the practices mentioned, outsourcing cheap labor being the one I most notice, but also ageism and poor HR methods, like resume filtering. Sure we have to adjust to the reality, but we can also make our voices heard. If we as a society are going to fire workers over 50 then we should also lower the age to get Social Security and Medicare.

    • hoapres

      If you are not a multimillionaire in tech by the time you are 35 then you are a failure.

  • hoapres

    It’s one thing to lose your job to another American but another thing all together when you lose it to an H1B.

    Young Americans better have an exit plan to get OUT of high tech because age discrimination is rampant “in the business”. Companies go out and get H1Bs for under $60K a year.

    If you are young and have a “good CS” job then best plan on saving every dollar (or dime) that you can find. If you play your cards right then maybe you can retire at 40.

  • hoapres

    Americans as a condition of receiving their severance working proudly together training their Indian H1B replacements to improve corporate profits by exporting jobs to India.

  • techGuy

    Obviously, there is a problem with age discrimination at many “innovative” companies in San Francisco.

    I challenge Forum to invite the Mayor of SF to address these issues on your program.

    The stakes are high. San Francisco touts itself as the “Innovation Capital of the World” hitching their wagon to these companies in anticipation of a bounty of jobs.

    That is why we put up with the tax break giveaways and dramatic increase in the cost of living.

    But, in reality, most of these jobs are open only to a specific demographic.

    Yes, some applicants are rightly turned away due to a lack of the right skills, but in a lot of cases (and I mean a lot) it is because of age or race discrimination.

    I know because I’ve been there. I spent the last year interviewing and getting rejected more times in a hot job market than any other time in my career – with the exception of just after the dot.com bust.

    In order to spur inquiries, I had to change the work experience on my resume from 20+ years to 5 years.

    Discrimination is hard to prove in a tough job market, it’s subtle but a lot more evident in a hot one.

    When your interviewer avoids eye contact, or doesn’t return a handshake, or makes a snide remark – you start to get the message. When the same thing happens over and over and also to friends in your age peer group, it becomes obvious. If you are not under 30 and white – you don’t fit into the “community” profile.

    Don’t take my word for it. The city should take a demographic survey of these companies and publish the totals. Numbers don’t lie.

    Some “Innovative” companies that relocate to SF are given generous tax breaks. But, if the hiring practices of these companies actively discriminate based on demographics, without regard to skill, they should lose their tax incentives. Any company who habitually discriminates in their hiring practices should be fined.

    A hotline should be setup so that any abuses can be readily reported and monitored.

    Of course, there are exceptions to the above. I finally got a great job with a company with an average age 10 years older than the ones where I was rejected.

    Between your Forum Interview and a similar article in SFGate.com, I would think that the chorus of complaints would pique the mayors interest and move him to research the matter further.

  • zorgparts

    SilliValley (I just invented that Zuckr its mine) has always slanted young. The difference was concentration and number of startups held opportunities for more people.

    Post internet bubble California lost 2 million people and 5000 businesses closed.

    But the double whammy comes from a cultural mythology of “youth hacker” please its just a website. And at the same time start-up culture is now world wide. So again consolidation, globalization and everything else has hit SV just like every where else.

    It’ll happen to them too.

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