Last October, I finally left my 30s decade when I turned 40. I didn’t feel anything different from my 30s, except that I would have to be a lot more aware of my health that’s beyond diabetes, and of course, I really do need to be more focused on issues, both mentioned and unmentioned. As a web developer in training, I have joined organizations and communities that aimed specifically towards women. After all, sexism in the tech industry, including here at home, 1 still exists. With such a supportive group of women who are both in the industry and those trying to get into the industry, I feel a lot more at home.
Now that I’ve turned 40, there is another issue that just came to mind and have to take on as a challenge: ageism. It’s very sad, very disheartening, and most of all, unconstitutional, and yet a lot in the tech industry, including here at home, seem to not care for it. The median ages range from 25-30s with startups and huge big wigs like Google, Facebook, etc. By the time that I finally get myself prepared for the job market, here is another challenge that I have to face other than the interview.
I am of Asian origin, which usually means that we tend to look a lot younger than our age. Even if I may pass for someone in the 20s, 2 it’s still no excuse for these employers and startups to bypass discrimination of any kind, especially with age. Thinking about it, I’m more and more at a disadvantage in comparison to the younger generation who want the same position.
On the other hand, one day, these same people will reach the same age as I currently am right now. One day, they will end up losing their job positions. 3 One day, if the issue of ageism still continues on to that point, then they will also go through the same struggles that the older (than the average), obviously a lot wiser and more experienced individuals. And besides, how can anyone succeed a startup in the long run without any form of guidance from those who are more familiar with the business and entrepreneurship? I doubt that those who majored in computer science or anything similar would have any knowledge of running a business, finance, and accounting. 4
There are a few target companies that I’m aiming at in which I hope I could get a remote position. Even if it was customer service, as long as it’s related to software and (somewhat) coding in general, it would be a good start. Tim Berners-Lee is one of the most respected names in the tech industry, and regardless his age today, 5 he still has the skill and drive to make the internet open to everyone. Keyword: everyone.
I’ve read a few articles in the past in which some of these employers who are targeting a specific age group were saying that it’s “cheaper” to hire the younger generation and that hiring the older, more experienced individuals for their business. Regardless of the excuse, it still is discrimination. It makes no sense on how these people supporting for an “open internet” and “net neutrality” for “everyone” if they exclude a specific group of people based on their age. There is a reason why many expert programmers and web developers use their skill and knowledge to invent concepts and new languages to make programming and development a lot easier. These new technologies were meant for everyone. Everyone.
There was an article that I read about Mark Zuckerburg who stated in the past interview that “younger people are smarter” when it comes to tech in general. Younger people may learn new technologies easier, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smarter in general. My instructors at Skillcrush, Udemy, Treehouse, and so forth have many years of experience, and many of them are my age or even older. Some are even younger than me. But I’ve always held respect for them for sharing their knowledge and experiences to anyone who wants to learn how to code, whether if it’s a new skill earned or to change careers. My fellow classmates active in the discussions have been kind and open, with no form of boundaries at all.
With the darker days already here, I am afraid that something unconstitutional will become common practice everywhere. Never mind that I’m female, but a 40-year-old female still trying to get into the tech industry?
When will support for “open internet” that was meant for everyone actually mean everyone? When will that come?
Some articles on ageism in the tech industry
- It’s tough being over 40 in Silicon Valley
- Old Geek
- How I made $2000 in 1.5 months starting with a Google Form-based MVP
- Finally, a tech company ready to tackle ageism
On the sidenote…
- Silicon Valley. I only live some 20 miles up north of San Jose… ↩
- There were a few occurrences in the past where I still have to present my ID to security whenever I try to enter a casino or a club because I look “too young.” ↩
- assuming they’re not going to retire “early,” so to speak. ↩
- Unless, of course, they decide to take courses on them… ↩
- He’s 61, but he is still active with his work. ↩
January 30, 2017 @ 10:12 am
It sucks when stereotypes and inaccurate expectations rule the market. A person’s true skill can only be measured individually. Best wishes for the future, keep on learning new things!
January 30, 2017 @ 10:55 am
Yup. That’s why now is a good time to search around social media (especially Twitter) for support communities who are in danger of facing these common social issues in the tech industry. Women (Ada Lovelace) created computer science, even, and now it’s looking like the industry is still for the guys. Really then?
But I’ll keep on going. I love new technologies, so I shouldn’t be looked down upon just because of my age.
January 30, 2017 @ 1:26 pm
I’ll totally join those communities too 😀
January 30, 2017 @ 2:40 pm
A lot of them are in Facebook groups though, but some can be found in Meetups. I joined Girl Develop It! and Tech Ladies. They should have something regional too. 🙂
February 1, 2017 @ 1:04 am
Maybe the “upfront costs” are cheaper, but the hidden costs can be greater — there’s the training costs, and then, there’s the millennial habit of “job hopping” — the cost of constantly hiring new talents.
I wonder if it’s a generational ego? I was humbled when I got a job as a customer service rep. I used to think I was very good at Excel(which we extensively used in our office when I was still working up there) only to find out that my skills are average and that I did not know many things. This prompted me to consider MIS at first, but upon pondering the extra time and money, I opted for an AS in CBIS. And many in my CBIS classes are middle-aged people wanting to upgrade their skills or learn more.
I think one thing many tech companies are forgetting is, the fundamentals of coding has not really changed. The syntax may have, and we’re seeing new languages but an important core in programming and coding is logic. By that alone, I would not skip “older people”. Logic is not easily learned, TBH. Learning how to manipulate variables can only be learned by having a lot of experience.
February 1, 2017 @ 1:22 am
I have high hopes of aiming for a remote job. I was looking into Automattic (the people who created WordPress), GitHub (since I’m already learning Ruby, maybe I can put what I’ve learned into practice there), and Atlassian (same as GitHub) because all their jobs are remote. I’m just having an impression that they’re able to make so much profit to pay their employees because they don’t work in an office, and because they would (probably) meet twice or so per year for any work-related meetings, that they are open to anyone, regardless of race, color, background, and most of all, age.
Besides, we need the more experienced (older) individuals who can share their several years of knowledge in the industry and teach the younger ones a thing or two about fundamentals of logic. That’s what I think anyway. 🙂