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At Google, You're Old and Gray At 40

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the cult-of-youth dept.

Google 543

theodp writes "Google faces an imminent California Supreme Court decision on whether an age discrimination suit against it can go forward. But that hasn't kept the company from patting itself on the back for how it supports 'Greyglers' — that's any Googler over 40. At a company of about 20,000 full-time employees, there were at last count fewer than 200 formally enrolled Greyglers working to 'make Google culture ... welcome to people of all ages.'"

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543 comments

Not just Google (4, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651522)

I think the belief that IT workers are washed-up at 40 is fairly widespread. Some believe that the H1B flooding is actually designed to get rid of older IT workers.

Re:Not just Google (0, Troll)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651546)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.

Re:Not just Google (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651558)

Most people under 40 don't want to spend 40hours+/week at work

Re:Not just Google (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651586)

Depends on the monetary incentives and how intellectually stimulating the work is.

I would easily work 100hrs/week if it meant I could retire by 30.

Re:Not just Google (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651934)

shut up

Re:Not just Google (2, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651950)

I would easily work 100hrs/week if it meant I could retire by 30.

Didn't work out so well for EA employees.

Re:Not just Google (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32652000)

Which brings us back to "Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work."

Re:Not just Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651848)

Most people over 40 where the ones under 40 who didn't want to work more than 40H+ and ended up working 60h+ til they were 40.
Then they decided it's about time they get a life beside work. That's about it.

Re:Not just Google (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652070)

Most people under 40 don't want to spend 40hours+/week at work

Yes, but under-40s are more willing to do it than over-40s. The under-40s are more willing to give up their free time in exchange for a foosball table, free pizza, the ability to wear tevas and socks to work and bragging rights to the fact that they work somewhere 'cool'.

Re:Not just Google (5, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651604)

There are more experienced techies who understand new technology than there are young ones who understand old technology. Or how their new technology works behind the scenes, for that matter.

And no, people aren't old at 40-50. With a normal work life lasting from 20-25 to 60-70, that's only halfway through, and is more likely to be near the peak of performance.

Re:Not just Google (3, Interesting)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651680)

I'm over 40 (almost 50) and get all new technology except for mobile phones. Maybe it's just me. I just don't have the social network I used to have in my 20s. By get, I mean motivated/interested in developing applications for. Not many new graduates seem to understand web services, SAS or SOAP.

Re:Not just Google (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651908)

As someone whose 25 I have no interest in mobile phones. I don't think its an age thing.

Re:Not just Google (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651984)

I'm 28 and losing interest in phones fast. I have a nice Nokia E71 and it's perfect. It has just the right amount of features to be useful and not so much as to be a clusterfuck. I used to get a new phone every year. Now I just want to use this same phone forever.

It syncs all my shit with my laptop at the click of a button. It has real buttons, no touchscreen crap. Good layout. Easy menus.

I never want to upgrade.

Re:Not just Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651918)

What does Serial Attached SCSI have to do with web services?

Re:Not just Google (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651982)

I think many of us "old" techies have no problems getting how cell phones or Twitter works.
What we have a problem getting is why. TXTing is as important to the evolution of communication as the pogo stick is for the evolution of transportation.

Re:Not just Google (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652054)

Us graduates of today probably learn more or less the same stuff you learned. For better of for worse it's kept fairly theoretical; theory is related to a real-world example of the theory wherever possible, but more likely than not it'll be a fairly dated example.

Re:Not just Google (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652060)

I'm 58, and kids half my age come to me to help them figure their phones out for them. The trouble with mobiles is these damned kids don't know how to design a decent interface. Once you figure out that the phone is designed by someone with no sense of logic, it's a lot easier.

Re:Not just Google (1, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651630)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.

It depends on the sort of work that is available. Older people are certainly good for a certain things: Ideas? Sure. Concepts? Of course. Writing the code to see those in the latest "in" language? Not probably so much.

With numbers that drop down in the "upper age" bracket, it means to me that there is simply less of the work to go around for these guys. The visionary guys at the very top of the pyramid? I don't think that age will see those folks go, the kids at the fat end of the pyramid doing the coding, yeah, I can totally see how the more mature folks will neither WANT to do those tasks, or probably be cutting edge enough to do them.

I don't really see this as too bad a thing. Heck, if I had work at Google under my belt, chances are that I would also be looking to move on at some point and make a squillion dollars by taking that experience and showing another company how to do it with their company.

Re:Not just Google (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651674)

That is a bizarre statement and one that I generally hold to be the opposite of the truth. I find that the least willing to do overtime are the younger crowd. The older crowd tend to do the "early to bed, early to rise" routine whereas the younger crowd are the "party all night, show up late in the morning" people. (YMMV)

As for older people not getting the new technology? Wow. That is quite an assertion. There are and always will be people on both sides of the [arbitrary] age line that will get it and that won't. It has little to do with age and more to do with aptitude. What I find is that there are truly fewer people with aptitude than not. If there are problems with the workforce, it is mostly among the youth who are far too easily distracted and don't commit themselves too much to their work. (once again, YMMV)

Where I work, the older the people are, the earlier they show up and the later they leave. In places prior, that was also the general pattern. But with that said, I was "older" a lot sooner than most people as my own work ethic started in my teens as my parents were extremely old fashioned and I grew up much as they did.

The real problems you will find today come from the general pop culture.

Re:Not just Google (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651730)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

Steve Wozniak seems to get new technology all the time. It's not a matter of age, but of attitude.

Just because someone's young doesn't mean they get computers either.

Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.

Hours =\= productivity. I hear all the time on /. that workers are spending a good chunk of time on games and the internet. I'd rather have a worker 8 hours a day just be mentally at work, than pushing them for 12 hour days and they spend half of it distracted. I'm not saying this is the case for young workers or that older workers are more productive, but there is way too much emphasize on having a body in a seat for X amount of hours rather than what they get done.

Re:Not just Google (1)

g4b (956118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651894)

some people need distractions to get done in the first place.

actually, all people do.

Re:Not just Google (4, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651742)

>Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

There's the old people who use age as an excuse for not bothering to learn. They just don't want to.

Then there are the grandmas who are tech savvy. They get the internet, webcams, texting, and the shabang - then they tell their kids and grandkids, "I got internet, webcam, texting and all this connectivity. What's your excuse NOW for not calling?!?"

Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.

That's because we got burnt too many times with the line of: "Work your ass off and there will be rewards." only to get a pink slip or just a cost of living raise with the rational that "you missed some of your metrics" or "you missed a deadline" - regardless of how unreasonable it was and the fact that the deadline was made by the marketing department to make a trade show or because the salesmen bullshitted to make the sale.

We also learned that if you have to work 60+ hours a week regularly, it is the result of incompetent management.

Re:Not just Google (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651764)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

The kids think some rehashed ancient concept from the 70s or 80s with a new marketing campaign, or same old stuff tweaked by the engineers now with improved specs, is "new technology".

I know about IBM VM OS from the 80s, so I know everything about Xen/KVM/etc except the new marketing spin and the command line syntax.

I know pascal p-code virtual machine system from the 70s, so I know everything about the java virtual machine concept except the new marketing spin and the command line syntax.

The kids are trying to wrap their heads around the very concept of virtual machines, or the very concept of clustering, or the very basic concept of parallelization/threading. I did that back in the 80s, its old technology to me, not new.

Same &#!^ different day with "high level language of the week (tm)", client-server processing, middleware, packetized data networks, etc.

Is there any "new technology" out there to get, that I didn't get decades ago with a different marketing campaign and different command line syntax?

Re:Not just Google (0, Flamebait)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651868)

That's nice, so I take it you're some kind of rich multimillionaire pioneer at the forefront of VM technology then?

Re:Not just Google (1)

LinuxAndLube (1526389) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651974)

Using only knowledge from the Eighties, you'd be facing a steep learning curve getting into serious Web programming. Just understanding the nature of a multi-tier system is not going to get you very far.

Re:Not just Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32652108)

Your negative attitude is why we (people under forty) don't want to work with you (people over 40). It's great that you're familiar with pascal p-code, but guess what? I can't hire a team off the shelf who are advanced to expert pascal programmers. However I can find a million or so resumes with Java on them so that is what I'll base my project on if Java is a decent fit. If you're not familiar with with the syntax then we can't use you. And no, just because something was a best practice in Pascal/C/C++/Fortran/etc. does NOT mean that's a best practice in Java. In fact, it may be a horrible horrible thing to do.

Re:Not just Google (5, Insightful)

tychovi (1221054) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651776)

Most people over 40 realize that in the end it's just a job. Families are important and when you reach a certain age you start to understand what's important in life. Most corporations will drop you short of fully vetted and with not so much as a "thank you very much" to save the money.

20 somethings are great because they'll work long hours and think nothing of it. The problem is quantity does not equate to quality. Google might not be in so many new court cases if they had a little wisdom present when some 20 something said "Hey, lets put WiFi sniffers on our camera cars!".

Re:Not just Google (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651790)

Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

The old-timers get the new technology. They invented it.

Re:Not just Google (1, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651832)

>Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.
I find the opposite - it's the main reason they like the younger ones. They have no family commitments so will happily work through the night on a problem when the older ones have to go pick up jnr from school etc.
That said, I'm currently 46 and through the wonders of home working now work more hours than I have for years but that's because I can stop at 3:30 to pick up my son, cook dinner, sort out homework then be back in front of the PC at 6PM for a few more hours.

Re:Not just Google (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651952)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?
Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.


Well, I'm well - well - below 40, and even I don't want to spend 60+ hours at work. I'm not an idiot, and I have a life you know. A life not involving work, that is. That doesn't mean I don't sometimes continue working at home - sometimes I do -, but letting employers create an idiot slave out of you is not the only way to go.

This has nothing to do with age. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651962)

This is all about benefits. When you are 18-25 and working on Summer of Code, the last thing on your mind are thoughts of retirement or your perspiration drug plan. The sad part is that we completely buy it. I was at a conference some weeks ago and roughly half of the speakers kept pushing this (though suspiciously all of these people were in either community organization or management roles, not one programmer or engineer had a thing to say about it). 30 is treated like the new 90.

Re:Not just Google (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652028)

Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

Funny, my young friends come to me for help with their tech. Maybe I'm not your normal geezer, but most other nerd geezers aren't so normal either.

Besides, most people over 40 don't want to spend 60hours+/week at work.

Damned right, suckers. With a few years (hopefully) one gains a bit of wisdom. I don't live to work, I work to live, and sixty hours a week doesn't leave much time for living.

I think it's a damned shame that you young people are willfully giving up what my and previous generations have fought and striven for.

Again -- SUCKERS!

Now GOML.

Re:Not just Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32652064)

Is it? Or do the old-timers just not get new technology?

Your attitude is exactly what's wrong at Google. Over 40 is not an "old-timer". I'm 42 and use new technology and social media more than most 20- and 30-somethings I know. Further, we have as much experience as you have years on this planet, which means we have a HELLUVA lot more perspective on ways to solve problems and implement solutions than you. And finally, those coming out of college today are spoiled little babies who don't stay at jobs longer than 6 months and need coddling when they do deign to show up for work, whereas those 40+ know how to dedicate themselves to work and understand the importance of fostering a good relationship with an employer.

Google is being very stupid by not taking advantage of everything "old-timers" have to offer. It's a pity it's going to take the CA supreme court to wake them the fuck up.

Re:Not just Google (5, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652076)

Holy crap, are you serious? First of, who really wants to work a 60 hr week? For that matter why forty or even a flippin' 8 hr day. programming is not assembly work, it is craftsman work, more art then anything else. Since I started in this industry over 29 years ago I found that the idea of turning on creativity at 9 and turning it off at 5 was laughable. For accounting purposes I appreciate the need for some set time frame of measurement for payment of services, but if it takes you 60 hours to accomplish tasks in a week then either you cannot do your job well, you are way over worked thus abused in your job, or a workaholic that cannot comment on how normal people approach their job. I do not want to spend 60+ hours a week working because at 49, I have a life.

As to understanding new technology? How frickin' pretentious can you get? Define "new" technology? Show me a language that is radically different from most other languages that only "young" technicians understand. Are machines that more sophisticated today then five, ten, fifteen years ago or have they just improved in speed, storage space, and simplicity. I don't use an Iphone so am I just an old geezer or a person who does not want to toss his well earned salary on Apple/AT&T for a bunch of toy apps. Ipad, slates, notebooks, these are not "new" technology, just repackaged current technology. New would be along the lines of neural links, bio-integrated technology that free me completely from carrying around some plastic, silicon and wire.

Grow up, think for a moment. One day you will be me, a 49 year old, active, knowledgeable IT professional with the potential to work, add value to a company while enjoying a life. Step away from the narcissistic attitude and consider your future when you say things like "do the old-timers" and then don't say it unless your purpose is to sound stupid in public.

Sit on my lawn all you want because (1) I bought it with my salary (2) I can enjoy it because I work to enjoy it and (3) because it seems you need a place to remind you that life is more then work.

Re:Not just Google (1)

geniusxyz (1357027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651572)

Totally agreed!! By 40 most of the IT folks either start their own ventures or leave the field for good.

Re:Not just Google (5, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651602)

Some believe that the H1B flooding is actually designed to get rid of older IT workers

I think that's just to keep wages down in general. Our universities are pumping out plenty of CS and MIS grads as well as math and engineering graduates to keep up with demand. The companies that say there are shortages are just saying that to justify going overseas or to bring in H-1bs.

My father in law in quite an accomplished design engineer but as he got older, he has been gradually moved into testing positions.

It starts off with a lay-off and he gets it, finds another job that's not quite what he did before, lay-off, then another job not quite like what he did, and so on until now where he's writing Perl scripts to take data from testing equipment and putting that into Excel spreadsheets. Pretty beneath him, but he's grateful to have some sort of technical job at 70. All his contemporaries went into management (if they could) a long time ago, changed careers or they're now retired.

In my programming experience, I've known very few folks who stayed in programming after 40. One was well into his 50s but he grabbed onto a product and stuck with it for years. When I left, he was still programming C on Dos. But folks came and went because they didn't want to work on old shit and he was very lucky to have gotten a product with a very long market life - cash register software.

Re:Not just Google (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652020)

I think that's just to keep wages down in general.

Age discrimination is about one thing: companies would rather have a 20-something desperate for work working 60 hours a week at $40K/year than they would a 50-something with some financial security working 40 hours a week at $70K/year. There are also some factors involving health insurance that can make it cheaper to have younger workers as well, but that's the basic story.

It has nothing to do with whether older workers are productive, "get" newer technology, or fit into the company culture. From the point of view of your employer, you are an expense, and their goal is to minimize expenses by hiring the cheapest workers they can capable of doing the job (or at least not failing too badly).

Re:Not just Google (2, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652106)

My masjid is full of programmers over 50. For example, one of them just start working at NIST, another worked for ages supporting Cobol code, third one works for private government contructor. Since I do not see apparent correlation between religiosity and coding till your beard is gray, I assume that there are plenty of them outside the masjid as well. (The only bias I could see is that it's DC area and a lot of government related jobs which is less agist than a private sector - I do not know though if it is a good thing or not for the country).

Re:Not just Google (5, Funny)

zepo1a (958353) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651634)

I applied to Origin Systems in the late 80's after I got my CS Degree, I was 28. Had a phone interview, at one point the guy (kid?) interviewing me told said "You're kind of old, we don't think you could handle the pressure." Seriously..28...kind of "old"? Lulz.

Re:Not just Google (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652030)

Wow. That's exactly the kind of statement that can get a company slapped with an age discrimination suit. Brilliant guy.

Re:Not just Google (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651772)

Just turning 39. A couple of years ago I was temporarily at a place with a bunch of 25 year olds who had nothing better to do than jerk off all night and come up with really bad ideas and work on them with great enthuasism and thoroughhness (the work equivalent of jerking off, IMO - enjoying a little too much you ought not to be doing.)

I got the hell out of there, and am only working with stupid 34 year olds now, but it's much better.

I re-upped my skillset with jQuery + WCF so now I'm mack daddy cool again. I decided, screw it, I'm just going to ride this out until I'm old. I'm gonna be the first one to just keep going :)

Re:Not just Google (1)

Ramley (1168049) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651824)

I am a 46 year old who has been in "Internet" access and development for close to 20 years. I have been working with open standards, open source, etc. since the mid 90's. Part of the fun of what I do on a daily basis is learning new things, and playing with different technologies, and it comes easily.

After the amount of time I have had the habits I have, new technologies, new ways of doing things (and so on) come very naturally. I can program circles around the "kids" out there, and definitely am much more thorough that anyone I work with who is younger than me.

I don't think I am an anomaly, but rather I am a perception of a younger generation that isn't close to accurate. So far, it has not been a problem to compete (and many times dwarf) against the "kids". Put me in a meeting for 10 minutes with them, and it becomes rather clear, consistently.

The thing us old workers have going forward is that the younger generation will be our age much quicker than they can believe (time flies, really), and will eat many of the words they might say today about older IT workers. Perhaps the intelligent/smart youth in the IT industry are smart enough to see the long term (which should be part of their daily job in technology).

Re:Not just Google (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651884)

Most of the people I work with are in their 40s and yet I know for a fact they know more than I do.

Re:Not just Google (2, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652074)

Please share your wisdom with your fellow generation. Work will be a much better place if more people were astute as you are.

On that note, most of the 20-somethings that work for me (I'm a middle manager of 5 developers) know more than me, because I'm not a software developer. Not a single one of them can do the weekly things I do that need to be done to ensure we continue to have jobs. I think the reason us 40+ start to get out of touch with technology (or the perception that we do, at least) is because the latest/greatest tech stops being important.

Re:Not just Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651896)

NO, H1B workers are designed to get rid of higher paid IT workers. Generally, the older IT workers are higher paid than their younger counterparts. Older IT workers, like myself, can either choose to keep abreast of the technology or not. I completely retooled myself from a IBM mainframe background to a J2EE one when I was in my forties - Wasn't easy but I did it - many of my friends dropped out and became recruiters, etc. Either way, having older IT workers around is advantageous - I mentor younger (30ish) workers all the time...

Re:Not just Google (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651912)

Every hiring practice is designed to drive down wages. Period.

Re:Not just Google (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651944)

I'm 40. I think that MY generation at 40 might be starting to get washed up, but that's because we weren't all raised with technology. I earned my undergrad degree, for example, without the benefit of the Internet.

People who are 30 today will NOT be washed-up at 40. So unless this widespread belief adjusts to believing people at 50 are washed up 10 years from now, this is a problem.

So do they have Sandmen and blinking crystals? (1)

localroger (258128) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651552)

Logan's Google?

Shirely you mean Google's Run (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651570)

Ain't it foggy outside
All the planes have been grounded
Ain't the fire inside?
Let's all go stand around it
Funny, I've been there
And you've been here
And we ain't had no time to drink that beer

'Cause I understand you've been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that's abandoned

Ain't the years gone by fast
I suppose you have missed them
Oh, I almost forgot to ask
Did you hear of my enlistment?

Funny, I've been there
And you've been here
And we ain't had no time to drink that beer

'Cause I understand you've been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that's abandoned

I understand you've been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that's abandoned

I understand you've been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that's abandoned

I understand you've been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that's abandoned

http://www.amazon.com/Sandman-Album-Version/dp/B001OGTT10/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1277209003&sr=8-1 [amazon.com]

Re:So do they have Sandmen and blinking crystals? (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651866)

"Logan's Google?"

To heck with the Sandmen, did they clone young Jenny Agutter?

Maybe Google are right (4, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651588)

I'm rapidly approaching 40, and I'm becoming more risk averse by the day.

Here's why: I know that when companies over-reach, then it'll be me who's pulling the late nights and weekends to deliver, not the guy that over-sold the product.

Younger guys either haven't learned that yet, or don't care as much, because they think that Arbeit Macht Frie. Well, I put in the Arbeit years ago, and I want my Frei now - just as today's young turks will want theirs tomorrow when they have families to take care of.

But they don't want it today, and that's why they make better employees, plain and simple.

Re:Maybe Google are right (2, Funny)

dingen (958134) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651622)

I'm rapidly approaching 40

Not more rapidly than others.

Re:Maybe Google are right (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651694)

I'm rapidly approaching 40

Not more rapidly than others.

Perhaps he's relativistically stationary?

in absolute terms, yes (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651882)

in relative terms, no

assume parent poster is 38

in one year, time until age 40 goes from 2 years to 1 year, or a 50% decrease in time until age 40

assume a comparison person of age 24

in one year, time until age 40 goes from 16 years to 15 years, or a 6.25% decrease in time until age 40

so time until age 40 is an accelerating change

so yes, a 38 year old is approaching 40 more rapidly than a 24 year old

i'm certain a real mathematician can express this concept far more elegantly than i can, but you get my point

Re:Maybe Google are right (2, Funny)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651686)

Here's why: I know that when companies over-reach, then it'll be me who's pulling the late nights and weekends to deliver, not the guy that over-sold the product.

I'm 26 and already experiencing this joy.

Re:Maybe Google are right (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651736)

I'm 28, experiencing the same.

With the added sensation I put in more then I take out of it, so working on starting my own business where my work and money I generate (as a consultant) isn't distributed by all the open held hands in between.

Sortof a weighing of input(long nights, weekends, putting out fire, compensating for misestimates or even certain incompetence sometimes -be it my own in certain aspects or others) and output:
I live very humble and don't have much spare time, which I fill with trying to feel the creative and explorative buzz I used to enjoy as a starting softdev which now evolved to creative interaction and useless meetings with dosens of stakeholders all wanting to get their limited vision pushed through trying to break the opposition ending up with a monster of a result and alot of frustrated and drained people.

Re:Maybe Google are right (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651766)

"But they don't want it today, and that's why they make better employees, plain and simple."

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm no. It makes for self entitled employees who feel that because they have they should be.

Many younger employees get distracted by the hip and now not the stable and then....

Having older mature employees who have life experience typically provides a balance and insight that youth cannot provide or compensate for

Re:Maybe Google are right (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651978)

Your example doesn't seem risk adverse.

But more to the fact that you do not have the energy to keep up with that type of work, as well as some jadedness to the industry.

Also the Nights and Weekends for projects is actually kinda over-rated. I have worked with many developers cross many industries. Usually the guys who work late, start late. They might work weekends in the rare cases, where after working weeks/months on a project 40 hours a week they are 8-16 hours short of their goal so they make it up.

Re:Maybe Google are right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32652012)

One thing I've noticed is that employees tend to get better at politics as they get older, more adept at playing the corporate game. This sometimes leads to gains in external productivity (e.g. championing a promising new project), but more often it doesn't, leading to cronyism and workers on cruise control as they explain why they aren't the ones responsible for the project slippage.

i've seen plenty of older IT workers (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651592)

last few SQL Server conferences i went to, almost everyone there looked at least 40 or close to it.

Re:i've seen plenty of older IT workers (5, Funny)

NoZart (961808) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651654)

yeah they LOOKED 40. Probably late 20ies on near-burnout.

Working on a long term project (3, Interesting)

kria (126207) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651598)

It's amazing the differences, working on a long term project. How long term? Our first released version was in the mid-nineties - and yes, we're doing more than just maintenance, even now. It's a defense project.

I'm on a team (within the larger project, which is 70-100 people) of seven people. Four are over forty, in some cases by a lot, one is about to turn forty, I'm thirty-three, and then we have our one, shiny just out of college person. We're pretty representative of the project as a whole, with the UI team trending younger than the others. The idea that older people don't know what they're doing, even on new languages, is pretty silly to me.

young company (5, Insightful)

spidr_mnky (1236668) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651610)

Is it possible that this statistic is just due to the fact that Google is a young company? My hypothesis here is that they've just done the most hiring where there are the most candidates, straight out of school. I don't know whether this is sufficient to explain the numbers, but it's not like they can focus on retaining employees that have been with the company for twenty years. Anyone old at Google was hired old.

Re:young company (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651784)

If they started a couple of years ago, I'd agree with you, but Google started in 1998. Hardly new in tech terms.

Re:young company (5, Interesting)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651836)

I bet most of the guys who started with Google in 1998 got rich and retired, which is why you don't see too many of them around.

Re:young company (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651986)

But you have to take into account the mix of people that google hires, although they hire a decent number of people with bachelors for the most part it's PhDs and masters degree students. Most people who fall into those categories(esp. PhDs) really only tend to go looking for jobs once, right after graduation. There are of course exceptions, but that is the general rule.

Re:young company (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651932)

Mod parent up. This is a point that should not overlooked. When was Google founded? 1998? That's only 12 years. Assuming the majority of people were hired out of college or close to it (cheaper, and they haven't yet had their souls completely crushed by corporate America), they'd mostly be in their thirties and THAT's assuming they all started in 1998 (obviously not) and that they all stuck around for the entire time.

Maybe Google could hire more older(?) folks, but I am certainly not going to hold it against them. A lot of the things they're looking for in employees are probably just harder to find in more experienced workers.

A double nine10dough by any measure (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651614)

The 'bad guys' must be caught/deleted. Most of us are just plain folks. Nobody cares where we are or why. The problem appears to be that some of the folks with the most to hide, are the ones who think they need to 'watch' EVERYBODY.

What are typical age discrimination activities? (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651618)

So, what are typical age discrimination activities?

I've worked myself into a pleasant niche position, with literally most of my fellow employees being older than I am, and I'm rapidly approaching the big 40, so I literally don't know.

Other than blatant stupidity, like kids walking around chanting "old people suck! old people suck!" or refusal to hired based on grayness, what exactly is a culture for 40-year-olds?

The 20s I have worked with whine like little punks about how management wants them clean and sober and on time early in the morning, don't they know they "had to" close the bar last night? They don't even get it that whining to me is a waste of time since I don't do stupid stuff anymore. They don't whine about age discrimination, but bad judgment / bad time management like that is pretty much a kid thing, so its pseudo-age discrimination.

The 30s that I'm in and work with are constantly taking sick days because of their kids, and holidays/summer-time/snow days are absolute chaos with those folks. Again they don't whine about age discrimination, but kids interfering with work is mostly a 30s problem, plus or minus a decade or so.

As for the old folks ... I don't really know how the company hassles them / soon to be me ... Like... removing the 401K match contribution? or company wide crappy catastrophe only health insurance, which does seem oriented toward the kids? No free geritol in the lunchroom although there's free coffee?

Elders of the internet (5, Insightful)

NoZart (961808) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651628)

There is always the talk of how older people don't get new technology, but i think this only described the people who grew up without IT and were confronted with it at a late age for the first time.

This might be naive, but i think now is the time where people grew up in this high tech scenario and for the first time actually grew old with it, too. Society needs to understand that the "new old guys" are just as proficient in adapting new technology as the young ones because adapting is what they did their whole life.

Re:Elders of the internet (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652022)

I mostly agree with you. Coming from one of the first generations to grow up (mostly) with the internet and such, I'm definitely comfortable with new technology and can adapt just fine. BUT I think there is a certain amount of understanding (or maybe it's just desire to understand) that comes from literally growing up with it. You can certainly teach an old dog new tricks and they can be extremely proficient at them, but are they necessarily at the same level as someone who lived and breathed those tricks while their brain was still developing?

I play and coach soccer. I've known some talented players who didn't start until later in life, but they never quite reach the level of players that started as kids. Maybe it's not a perfect comparison, but I think there is at least something to it.

Also, I find that while I understand new stuff fine, I don't have the desire to get involved like I would have when I was younger. I have other things on my mind these days or am just plain not interested.

Obligatory Primer quote: (3, Interesting)

ThoughtMonster (1602047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651640)

Clean Room Technician: You know what they do with engineers when they turn forty?
[to Aaron, who shakes his head]
Clean Room Technician: They take them out and shoot them.

If you think that is bad.. try MS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651652)

If you are at MS and 40... you are 2.0 and out!

Age Discrimination is Reality in IT (2, Insightful)

teneighty (671401) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651702)

This case is not cut and dried (the guy was already over 50 when he was hired), which is unfortunate because age discrimination is very, very real in IT and especially in the software industry.

If you in IT, and are at age 40, and have not been promoted to management, become an independent contractor, started your own business, taken a government job, or switched careers... well, you better look good in blue, because you are one pay check away from having no other choice but to become a Wal*Mart greeter.

Re:Age Discrimination is Reality in IT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651860)

You make a valid point, but I would like to add to it. I work as the Chief of Cyber Security for a very large entity. As Chief, my role is highly technical while also heavily managerial. My counterpart (deputy director of cyber) is the 'operations' version of my job. Less technical, more 'day to day'. There will come a time that I will need to transition to a primarily managerial position. This is not because there is a magical age at which everyone is 'old', but my current position is non-stop precision decision making. Eventually I will lose some of my edge and my decision making will slow, judgment decrease, etc. I have to be cognizant of when this is happening, and make it known. I am fortunate that I have a fair employer that I am comfortable with in this regard and I realize that many do not.

53 and no problem finding startups to work at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651910)

Not sure if I could get a job at a big company, but I probably wouldn't try. But at startups, results and track record matter a lot more than appearances. Nobody cares how old you are.

It does start to feel funny when the CEO is always younger than you though.

Greyglers Hand Lights (2, Funny)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651712)

If they don't go to the Google Carousel when your light goes off they send the sandmen after you!

Jessica 6: A friend of mine went on carousel. Now he's gone.

Logan 5: Yes, well, I'm sure he was renewed.

Jessica 6: He was killed.

This happens in all sectors... (1)

mlankton (560205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651748)

...and it is discrimination, plain and simple. I get why some managements are compelled to favor new, young employees over older, experienced employees. It's an ego thing. They want to create a culture that reflects their goals and values, and if you were around before they showed up, you represent the old culture that they are trying to wipe out. Especially in blue/gray collar professions where you may have a guy who has been on the job 10 years but has no degree, but the guy with a BS that has been there for only two years gets promoted because the new management values education over experience. I am in a similar situation where I work. Look guys, we all turn 40. Not everyone is going to be the guy running things. It's discrimination, and if it happens to you go do your homework and fight it if they are violating internal policy or law.

I'm 54 and not grey (5, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651802)

I'm bald. But the good news is I never get called away from work because of an emergency with the children, they left home long ago. I don't have to take time off for pre or post natal activities. Or to watch some 6 year-old in a school activity. I don't break a leg on "adventure" holidays and require all my co-workers to subsidise my recklessness. I don't get drunk every weekend and have "off" days every Monday. I don't spend half my working day trying to chat up my co-workers (for which they're very grateful) and I don't feel so insecure that I need to challenge every decision, or jostle for promotions - no matter how meaningless.

Work / Life Balance (4, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651816)

I'm 43 and work in IT in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver's version of Google is Electronic Arts (EA). EA has many employees in Vancouver, a 'cool' office and lots of perks, like Google. It also has a very young workforce with people like me generally not interested in working there. Why? Because there's very little life/work balance at EA. I'm married, I have a kid and another one on the way - I'm not interested in working 80 hour weeks in exchange for free breakfast and a basketball court. I'd rather go home on a summer evening and play frisbee with my kid - Not play ultimate with my co-workers, then go back to work for another 3 hours. Google builds cool stuff, but I suspect their culture just isn't skewed to provide those things that someone like me would want, i.e. a good life outside of the office. Doesn't mean they're a bad company, they're just not a good fit for people like me.

I think it's a reflexion on the immaturity of IT (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651818)

I'd link it to the incredible percentage of IT projects that end up canceled, over-budget, or partial/total failures. Unless Grey workers do nothing at all to keep up-to-date technically, and start working very short hours, I don't see how their experience can be easily dismissed... unless it's actually perceived as a drawback.

There's also the question of whether older workers leave because they want to, or because they have to. I've seen a lot of burn-out, mainly due, again, to the immaturity of industry practices.

And it's deeply entrenched. Do computer technicians command as much money as plumbers, yet ?

I'm just going to throw this out there... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651826)

"Greyglers" sounds like pure HR bullshit.

Google sounds more and more like a crappy company to work for as time goes by.

Posting as AC because I'm too lazy to create an account.

acting old vs being old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32651988)

hmm, Steve Jobs is 55... I guess it's OK if people think you are a cool old dude then... But as soon as you start acting like a fart, you're outta here!

Speaking as an old geezer (4, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32651992)

The bad news is, I probably don't pick up new crap as quickly as I used to. The good news is, I don't need to because most of it is like the old crap I've already learned.

Old at 40... (1)

rlanctot (310750) | more than 3 years ago | (#32652038)

Here's a nickel, sonny. Go buy yourself a real computer...

I feel bad for these youngsters! They'll never get to experience the joys of COBOL on a mainframe, never know the bliss of starting simultaneous INGRES queries and then going outside to play football while the Vax thrashes. They'll never feel the warmth given off by a line printer spewing 2000 pages of log files you accidentally printed. Woe to them!

I weep.

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