Monday, March 24, 2014

Age discrimination in Silicon Valley

I really wish it had a few more statistics attached to it, but this Noam Scheiber article about age discrimination was really eye-opening:
...Just because overt age-discrimination is illegal doesn’t mean it never happens. In 2011, Google settled a multimillion-dollar claim brought by a computer scientist named Brian Reid, who had been fired when he was 54. Reid said colleagues and supervisors had frequently referred to him as “an old man” and “an old fuddy-duddy” whose ideas were “too old to matter.” They allegedly joked that his CD cases should be called LPs. A labor lawyer I spoke with told me he recently got a call from a thirtysomething supervisor at a start-up who said her job was at risk because the team she was managing—most of them ten years younger—had rejected her on account of her age. “She was being referred to as a ‘den mother,’ ” says the lawyer. “If no one is following your lead, you’re not much of a supervisor.” 
Still, ageism in Silicon Valley is usually more subtle: an extra burden of proof on the middle-aged to show they can hack it, on a scale very few workers of their vintage must deal with anywhere else. “People presume an older developer learned some trade skill five to ten years ago and has been coasting on it ever since,” says a 40-plus developer whose department consists mostly of 20-year-olds...
The article should really be called "Silicon Valley VCs prefer pitches from young people", but the stories are interesting nonetheless.   

7 comments:

  1. It doesn't help ease the age discrimination when management is brought into a startup company and is described to the employees as "adult supervision".

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  2. This is one of the biggest reasons why I want to go into academia (although working on my own stuff is another big plus). I'm thinking 20 years ahead. The bigger salaries will probably be offset by the after 55 years old time. Definitely don't see much age discrimination in academia with some of the big profs working well past retirement.

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    1. This is assuming you make it to tenured faculty. If you are a regular bench worker like me, you will suffer the same fate as the poor bay-area tech worker.

      Good luck getting tenure somewhere.

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    2. er... thanks! I guess. Well, if I don't make it, there is always my wife who could get tenure. One secure job should be okay.

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    3. Well, there is more to life than being a "success", despite what my parents think. At least that is what I tell myself. Thank god we have cerebral cortex's that can be easily entertained with calculus and chemistry.

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  3. Along the same lines, interesting post on "what happens to older programmers?" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7373301 [TLDR - they tend to become managers, but there are other options]

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  4. People over 40, myself obviously excluded, don't have enough fresh ideas, expect to be paid too much, have to take too much time off to deal with "families", and are squares in general.

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