Some technology recruiters say unequivocally they see bias at work. Marta Fuentealba, a principal at start-up specialist Talent Farm, says she's encountered it many times.
She recalls a meeting at a software company a few years ago, when the human-resources executive told her he would like to find somebody "around age 26 or so" to fill a job. An age requirement along those lines would violate both state and federal laws on discrimination, California labor lawyers say.
"You mean, somebody less jaded?" Fuentealba recalls asking, hoping to jolt the executive back into legal territory. "And he said, 'No, I mean somebody young, probably no older than 26.'" Back at the office, she sent the executive resumes from a variety of candidates.
..."I am just an incredibly enthusiastic fan of very talented 20-somethings starting companies," Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz, 58 years old and a top VC, once said at a conference, echoing similar comments he has made over the years. "They have great passion. They don't have distractions like families and children and other things that get in the way of business." He was 49 at the time.Yikes. Remind me not to try to become a Silicon Valley entrepreneur anytime soon; seems like being a husband and a father could be a liability.
I've never really worked with older chemists as peers for an extended amount of time; I've mostly had them as bosses. I don't really think there's a significant creativity difference between younger and older chemists.*
This bit in the article about certain cosmetic changes during job hunting I found particularly distasteful:
Silicon Valley veterans try to adapt as best they can. Adams of Socialdial ticks off a list of faux pas that he believes peg older jobseekers as outsiders. "You can't have an AOL email," he says. "That's horrible. A Gmail address is okay. What's really cool is an email with your name on it," as part of the domain.
In person, older job applicants should carry a backpack, not a briefcase, he says. Avoid Blackberries and Dell laptops in favor of Android phones and Apple products. And above all, steer clear of wristwatches, which most younger people have replaced with the clocks on their phones. "The worst would be a gold Rolex," he says. "Tacky, and old."I wonder if similar (and stupid) age-related cosmetic issues are at work in the chemistry world -- I tend to think not, but I dunno. It seems that we have a culture that values wisdom and experience (relative to Silicon Valley, anyway). But I haven't been in the big world of the pharma/chemical industry very long. Readers, please feel free to correct me.
*I have, on occasion, found older chemists who have failed to keep up with the chemical literature in any serious fashion. (Around the time of Suzuki's Nobel prize, I was amused to talk to one manager who found palladium-catalyzed chemistry to be a cute academic oddity, as opposed to a technology that should be seriously considered.) I don't think that's really age-related, so much as it is about failing to exercise an important prerogative of a Ph.D. chemist's life: to keep current with important, job-relevant literature. I assume that these mental discipline issues are found in both the young and the old.