Despite setbacks, we hear a lot about diversity in the work place, often with positive examples like LGBTQ inclusivity or the outing of libertine attitudes in tech start-ups like Uber. It would seem that a lot of effort is being put forward to root out the many harmful “–isms” of the past century.
Yet, at the very heart of the tech industry is a worm in the bud: old people are not allowed. It’s not that anyone would say that out-loud; well almost nobody. Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying , ”Young people are just smarter”, but that was in 2007 when he was 23. One wonders how he feels about now that he is 33?
It seems the obvious solution is that experienced professionals become managers; once you reach a certain level of experience, your only career path is to take on the responsibility of managing other professionals. But that’s not the career path everyone wants or should follow.
Management is not a skill everyone has, and being a good designer or developer does not automatically make you a good manager of other developers and designers. We have to seek other solutions beyond management to make better use of the experience these people can bring to the profession.
To do that, we have to ask the right questions. Instead of asking “How can we hire more older employees?”, we need to ask the question “What is the best role experienced employees can play in our organization?” This will take a rethinking of roles, and possibly even creating new roles that allow the sharing of experience without the need to enter management.
One of the most important venues where thsi topic should be discussed is the premiere tech industry event, SXSW. This mammoth conference draws thinkers from around the globe to discuss cutting edge topics in the tech industry, and I would like to bring my thoughts on ageism to them, but I need your help to let them know that this is a significant topic.
A major consideration is how many people vote for a session, share it thorugh social media, and leave comments in support. Please use the links below to vote my session up, as well as add a comment at the bottom of that page and share the page on social media.
In addition, if you have any stories about your own experiences with agiesm in the tech industry (young or old, positive or negative) please contact me.
I greatly appreciate your support!