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Ageism in IT

Ageism in IT

Ageism in IT

It seems in IT more than any other area that to be young is nearly everything. When you hit thirty in IT there seems to be an asumption that you should move away from programming and more in to management (even if you  don't want to!!). It seems that the 20's are the time when a company has the most interest in you.

What are the options in IT when your 40, 50 ...

What have been peoples experience/observations on this?


Available for weddings, funerals and childrens parties.

RE: Ageism in IT

Ok, this may be a little Pollyanna of me (hint: re: my age), but I think disillusionment and burnout among many older workers contributes to the stereotype of the younger person having more useful knowledge and enthusiasm. I think this happens because many people don't feel they have the option (financially) to hold out for a "good" job, and eventually the many "bad" jobs wear them down.

My experience is that the older I get, the more employers expect me to have strengths other than technical ones, i.e. good judgement, personal maturity, ability to scope a project, assess alternative approaches, etc. These are the skills I have to market in interviews, as no one's ever been impressed with my technical depth! I also play up my ability to adapt to new situations based on having so many different experiences to relate to.

Employers seem to be suspect of  the person with "20 years experience", who's actually only had "1 year of experience, 20 times". They know the younger ones have energy and hours to devote, and want to make sure the older ones have something extra worth trading for that. Of course, some employers that I would judge unwise are just looking for cheap labor. But they're not any fun to work for, so I'm glad if they screen me out, helping me to avoid burning out while working for them. Sometimes I go longer between jobs than I'd choose, but it's worth the wait.

I work for a terrific employer right now, but this project is ending shortly so I'm actively looking for something new. I'm reminding myself every day to keep alive the vision of the next "great" job, where the expectation is a fair day's labor for a fair wage, and I get to feel creative and appreciated <g>. That's what helps me from burning out and coming across as tired and bored at interviews.

BTW, if you're worried only about ageism, cheer up - it probably means you're not being discriminated against because of sexism or racism too!

RE: Ageism in IT

In an industry that can not find enough qualified candidates, I would suspect that staffing needs would outweigh age discrimination.

There are plenty of trade-offs. The smart job searcher is aware of the trade-offs and tailors his/her job search accordingly.

Gary (akbryer)

Good deeds do not go unrewarded!

RE: Ageism in IT

IT is no different than other industries.  There is a premium for youth.  There is also an expectation for older people that they should manage the younger people, not work shoulder to shoulder with them.  This is human nature and not necessarily logical.

In the back of the mind of every owner is that they may be hiring the person who will buy them out in 30 years.  In the back of the mind of every big company manager is they will be transferring out of their department a young and newly molded corporate citizen.  If you're the same age as the owner or manager, it really puts you in a hole.  :-)

So, the wheel of corporate expectation turns faster as you get older.  Be ready for it.


RE: Ageism in IT

I'm 19 right now, and the biggest emphasis on my age is the fact that co-workers focus on my age as being the kid who can learn as fast as the new technology developes, Also would it be correct to say that an 18/19 year old whose already working with multiple platform language(VB, VC++, ASP, InterDev, ActiveX) is more likely to get a job than a mid-age male with say about 10 years of experience? I would go with the mid-age man if I were hiring but I got hired for this position, exact reasons unknown, but age seemed to be a big factor.


Experienced in , or have messed with : VC++, Borland C++ Builder, VJ++6(starting),VB-Dos, VB1 thru VB6, Delphi 3 pro, Borland C++ 3(DOS), Borland C++ 4.5, HTML, ASP(somewhat), QBasic(least i didnt start with COBOL)

RE: Ageism in IT

Karl, it all depends on the company. I'm over-the-hill so my company moved me to Engineering. Every firm needs fresh ideas to stay afloat. It's apparent that my ideas didn't match the expectations.

Never count on perpetual youth. We are only young until our employers tell us otherwise (or until we are too old to know the difference).

The entire world is waiting for you to make a difference. Make every day count.

RE: Ageism in IT

Well it could be that my company is also extremly small ( I make the 5th employee, and I have some extra experience the rest of the company has) There is no seperate department, we all in one way or another do some part in the whole web application development.


Experienced in , or have messed with : VC++, Borland C++ Builder, VJ++6(starting),VB-Dos, VB1 thru VB6, Delphi 3 pro, Borland C++ 3(DOS), Borland C++ 4.5, HTML, ASP(somewhat), QBasic(least i didnt start with COBOL)

RE: Ageism in IT

KB24 - you seem to have used a few different langauges for a 19 year old, one word of warning - get a qualification, if you are older and looking to move up the corporate ladder, they won't look at you without a good 3rd level qualification.

All- Where I work people tend to leave by the age of 30, I'm 26 now and am planning an escape by next year. I have been worked very hard (average 60+ hour weeks)  but I suppose I have recieved excellent training. My problem is that I like technical work, but because of my backround people expect me to team lead - which I hate..

The only solution may be to go contracting ££££££££


RE: Ageism in IT

cal, that one of the reasons my CEO is getting me certified in InterDev first, after that I'll be planning my paths of certifications, I wish to take on VC++ in distributed applications after the interdev, if not Visual Basic first. After he is paying for the certifications and allowing the study times.


Experienced in , or have messed with : VC++, Borland C++ Builder, VJ++6(starting),VB-Dos, VB1 thru VB6, Delphi 3 pro, Borland C++ 3(DOS), Borland C++ 4.5, HTML, ASP(somewhat), QBasic(least i didnt start with COBOL)

RE: Ageism in IT

summary of new gov't study on topic of ageism in IT:


"(October 30, 2000) If you're an IT worker over 40, you're 16% more likely to lose your job than a younger IT worker. It will take you 21% longer to find a new job than a younger applicant, and it will be 25% harder just to get an interview. And when you finally get that new job, you'll typically take a 13% pay cut. That's what a new study by the National Academy of Sciences says - though the researchers balk at admitting there's age discrimination in IT. No sir, lieutenant, we're not sure it's murder; all we've got is a dead guy with a dozen stab wounds in his back. Maybe it's suicide - or even just coincidence. The study - you'll find a link to it on the Web at www.nas.edu [study is avail for about $30] - was commissioned by Congress in 1998, when lawmakers were raising the annual limit for H-1B guest-worker visas from 65,000 to more than 100,000. (This month, Congress raised the cap again, to 195,000 for the next three years.)"

RE: Ageism in IT

I know this is a young person's activity, but it hasn't stopped me trying over and over again to sell my skills.  I'm 63, but I still think I have the capability and skills of those half my age.  I've been struggling for years to find contracts for my own design business but no one seems to want to give me the credit for experience and adaptability.  What should I do, retire disgracefully?


RE: Ageism in IT

Guys like you would be assets in developing nations Gill. Like Jamaica. Haven't you seen the MCI WorldCom advert...says the digital age isn't an age...there's a pretty old guy in the ad.

Delton Phillips.

RE: Ageism in IT

I don't mind telling you all that I'm starting to wonder if I'm seeing the world through rose colored glasses.  I'm a 31 year old woman who has just gone back to school.  I'm in my first year of a two year associate degree for programmer/analyst.  I've worked in the corporate world for 13 years in many different capacities.  I would hate to think that all of my time and effort is going to waste.  My ultimate goal is project management, but I need to be able to gain that much needed technical experience as well as continue my education.  It is my hope that there is room in this field for good people who are willing to work hard.  Please tell me I'm on the right track!

RE: Ageism in IT

Project managment, in your 30s, sounds about right for where I'd see most project managers (30s into 40s), but for just mainstream coders, I think it depeneds, as what was dicussed in the thread. but far as Ageism goes, I expect the bigest impacts to be in the early 20s and 50 and after.

Experienced in : C++(both VC++ and Borland),VB1(dos) thru VB6, Delphi 3 pro, HTML, Visual InterDev 6(ASP(WebProgramming/Vbscript)


RE: Ageism in IT

Well...I am 50 years old, familiar with Java, C, C++, Perl, SQL, DHTML, Lingo, XML. The last three years I have been running inter and intranet projects --typical n tier architecture. I was out of IT for about 6 years and just recently got back in.

I have no problem finding work, I dont think age is in issue, rather your experience in the hard skills and what you have done.

25 years managing engineering and software projects has helped and my MBA doesnt hurt either.

I guess one is as only as old as one thinks.

In not now, when?
If not here, where?
If not us, who?

Just do it!!

RE: Ageism in IT

When I reached the point in life when I discovered that me and my career were not synonomous my marketability dropped. I refused to put in 80 hour weeks, and said that there was no possible programming emergency that would get me into the office at 1AM.I was no longer a "desired" employee. I am more stable, better trained and more experienced in my field than half the people I come in contact with, but that is all cancelled by the fact that I have a personal life.
Go figure.

RE: Ageism in IT

Here's to all of us struggling to regain our personal identities... may our numbers grow.

Jobs are temporary phenomema. We are permanent fixtures.

RE: Ageism in IT

Amen to that.

First of all i'm 22 with 3yrs IT experience.  With experience in VB, ASP, SQL SRV 6.5/7, COM all kinds of good stuff.

I work in a IT department where i'm the youngest, and next young guy is 25. Everyone else is between 29 - 33 with 9yrs+ IT experience.

They're saying to me, "hey man you're young, get some JAVA, XML & PHP under your belt and just hit a 'sweat shop' for 2 years".

They also said, forget about social life for 2 years also. As Alt255 said We are permanent fixtures I really don't think anyone should make sacrifices of that nature for any job.

They'll just replace you with a 20 year old wiz kid.

There are my 2 cents.

Delton Phillips.

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