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Silicon Valley's Dirty Little Secret: Age Bias

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the get-off-my-lawn dept.

Businesses 375

MightyMait writes "With my 40th birthday coming up, seeing this article makes me happy I have a good job (and a little wary of having to find another). From the article: '[T]he start-up ethos extols fresh ideas and young programmers willing to toil through the night. Chief executives in their 20s, led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are lionized, in part because of their youth. Many investors state bluntly that they prefer to see people under 40 in charge. Yet the youth worship undercuts another of Silicon Valley's cherished ideals: that anyone smart and driven can get ahead in what the industry likes to think of as an egalitarian culture. To many, it looks like simple age discrimination - and it's affecting people who wouldn't fit any normal definition of old. "I don't think in the outside world, outside tech, anyone in their 40s would think age discrimination was happening to them," says Cliff Palefsky, a San Francisco employment attorney who has fielded age-discrimination inquiries from people in their early 40s. But they feel it in the Bay Area, he said, and it's "100 percent due to the new, young, tech startup mindset."'"

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40 is the new 60 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113015)

" wouldn't fit any normal definition of old" - plzzz.... fashion industry anyone?

Re:40 is the new 60 (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#42113039)

I was fired from my job because I'm 50+ and failed several performance reviews. Would they have fired somebody younger in my position? Or made him on management track? Rhetorical.

Re:40 is the new 60 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113209)

You don't supposed failing your reviews had anything to do with it do you?

Re:40 is the new 60 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113329)

penile amputation
anus enlargement
nipple removal

Re:40 is the new 60 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113375)

scrotal inflation
rectal distension
testicle piercing

Re:40 is the new 60 (3, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42113223)

I was fired from my job because I'm 50+ and failed several performance reviews. Would they have fired somebody younger in my position? Or made him on management track? Rhetorical.

You were fired because you failed at doing your job, hence failing serveral performance reviews. You were NOT doing you job decent enough. Age has nothing to do with it, so quit making excuses because you were lazy at work.

Re:40 is the new 60 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113337)

>You were fired because you failed at doing your job, hence failing serveral performance reviews
Ah, to be young and innocent again.

The funny thing about performance reviews, my dear boy, is they are written entirely by your manager(s). If your management chain gets it into their heads that they're tired of your face, well...

Re:40 is the new 60 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113269)

I was fired from my job because I'm 50+ and failed several performance reviews. Would they have fired somebody younger in my position? Or made him on management track? Rhetorical.

Uh, all bias aside, I'd say the "failed several performance reviews" part had a hell of a lot more to do with it than grey hair.

If someone is not performing to expectation, they likely should be let go regardless of age. Anyone looking to bend that rule simply because young and trendy seem to be creating profit in obscure trendy ways isn't looking past the 15-minute mark.

Trends last about as long as the average twenty-something attention span. We'll see how long young and "hip" win over experience and wisdom.

Re:40 is the new 60 (5, Interesting)

Drakonblayde (871676) | about 2 years ago | (#42113551)

Don't be naive. It's pretty easy for management to manufacture a reason to terminate 'for cause', especially in an at will state. While it's certainly possible that the performance reviews were legit and the person was terminated because they weren't great at their job, don't automatically assume that just because some manager said their performance was below par, that's fact. I've had a few run ins with managers over the years who torpedoed my reviews for questionable reasons. The most memorable being the one who cited me for a lack of professionalism. Apparently, telling a manager they're wrong (privately, and very very conscientious of word choice, context, and tone) is unprofessional. This is why I refuse to work for little tin gods. The second I find out my direct manager is of that vein, I'm either seeking a transfer or another employer. My discretion and ability at choosing who to work for has gotten much better with iteration.

Re:40 is the new 60 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113567)

re failed performance reviews. I was fired after a failed a performance review. The first one I ever had in four years and the first review I had after I was injured and could no longer type. At the same time, internal reviews from peers rated me as having the highest quality code in terms of, meeting requirements, readability and bugginess. I'm so glad I don't write code anymore.

Silicon Valley - as defined by age (0, Flamebait)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42113049)

In Silicon valley, when you reached the age of 40 you supposed to have at least 50 millions dollars under you name.

The role that people 40 and above play in Silicon Valley is that of the Angel Investor.

If you are over 40 and still looking for opportunity to toil through the night hacking away - man, you do not belong in the Valley.

I left that place when I was 32 - after I sold my creations (plural) there to the highest bidders

Re:Silicon Valley - as defined by age (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113121)

Well aren't you smug.

Re:Silicon Valley - as defined by age (3, Interesting)

lucm (889690) | about 2 years ago | (#42113273)

I left that place when I was 32 - after I sold my creations (plural) there to the highest bidders

Reminds me of a scene from the book Microserfs (Douglas Coupland):

Ethan: "I have brought four products to market myself. Four very successful products. (Unspoken sentiment hangs in the air like dying fart: "Yeah, but your companies all tanked within a year.")

Re:Silicon Valley - as defined by age (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113349)

In Silicon valley, when you reached the age of 40 you supposed to have at least 50 millions dollars under you name...

Right.

Just a small piece of information that might prove relevant to your argument here.

The year is 2012, not 1999.

If you are 40 and still looking for opportunities in the Valley, it isn't because you're trying to figure out if the $80,000 signing bonus is worth more than the beach condo in the summer they're offering. It's probably because you're broke and have been unemployed for 6 months, and are willing to take any job just to stay in the tech field..

Like I said, it's not 1999 anymore. Wake up.

You don't need experience or accomplishments (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113161)

You don't need experience or accomplishments to win a nobel prize.
This study brought to you by the people that voted for obama.
Ewe dew teh math.

Investor rule of thumb: (5, Funny)

hawks5999 (588198) | about 2 years ago | (#42113017)

If you read Slashdot, you are too old.

Re:Investor rule of thumb: (5, Funny)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42113149)

If you read, you're too old. There's a cool app in your shiny smartphone can read twitter for you and twit what you speak to it.

Re:Investor rule of thumb: (2)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#42113707)

If you think you have to work to make money, you're too old. That's what HFT is for. Creating products and services? That's so 20th century.

Re:Investor rule of thumb: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113247)

If you read Slashdot, you are too old.

Unless you're a moderator. Those guys are all early 20s.

Re:Investor rule of thumb: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113307)

Well, then it looks like they're looking for someone in middle school, because I'm only a senior in high school and I read /. far more frequently than I should.

Re:Investor rule of thumb: (1)

beeudoublez (619109) | about 2 years ago | (#42113715)

Keep at it! :)

MAN I AM GETTING OLD JUST READING ALL THESE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113019)

What ?? Every month these pop up !!

Re:MAN I AM GETTING OLD JUST READING ALL THESE !! (0)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#42113045)

Get off of my lawn!!

Secret? (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42113033)

Seriously, people, this hasn't been a "secret" in at least 10 years.

Re:Secret? (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#42113281)

Yeah, but I didn't notice back then because I was 10 years younger.

You're gonna get old (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#42113035)

If you don't like it, consider the alternative. The system craves fresh meat/blood. So what?

Re:You're gonna get old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113057)

Sure thing! Any idea where I can find a good enough painter?

This is due to the different in approaching things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113053)

Younger people don't mind collateral damage or a quick revision, or several revisions as long as it means getting it out there first. They don't care about backwards compatibility or everyone working perfectly just their target audience. As you get older, you realize taking longer makes a more refined product... but at a cost. Time.

They want to be agile, quick, unbound... etc. Many of us 'older' people are with mature companies that have been around a while and have several mature products that are extremely complex and many people depend on them so changes are not so easy.

Additionally I've found that many of these younger companies target specific needs instead of broad needs. As they mature, they branch out and the more branches mean the slower they are. For example Yahoo. It used to be agile and great, now it's a second hand store to most people. I use them for movie listings and that's about it.

Re:This is due to the different in approaching thi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113213)

Wow, you actually use Yahoo for something? You must be REALLY old!

Totally True (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113055)

Olds like Steve Jobs and Jony Ive have no hope of creating products that young, hip consumers want. Only some grandpa with a calcified brain would have put money in their shit. That's why Apple has a sprightly young turk heading up their marketing.

young versus old (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#42113067)

The age bias is because kids are young and stupid and will happily waste 40, 60, even 80 hours a week slaving away for peanuts on the Next Big Thing in computers. There's something to be said though for people with a few years under their belt. For one, they know what failure looks like. For two, they don't go with the shiny things because they're shiny -- they understand business needs and can design things that'll last and can be scaled up. The dot com bubble happened precisely because everybody thought the dumb fresh-out-of-college kids had all the answers and we threw money at them like girls throw wet panties at singers on stage.

And we paid for it. Apparently though, we didn't learn anything from the experience. Like say, a modicum of business sense.

Re:young versus old (0)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#42113227)

I think that's as much horseshit as thinking 40 and under make an ideal company. If you ask me the biggest problem with the economy and business isn't republicans or democrats, it's that people whose best years and best ideas are behind them, but they want to squeeze the last drop of blood out and make sure every last cent is off the table (even at the expense of greater profit in 2-5 years with investment). If they can do so with 6 month initiatives and lots of processes and Jack Welchian business practices, they will (and believe me, they do). Investors are no doubt leery of older people who are too experienced.

What you want, obviously is a balance of the two. The people in charge are old enough to know how to balance discipline vs. creativity, young enough that they want to see their company succeed and enjoy some of the fruits of their labor. And they employ a balance of fresh out kids who are the workhorse of the corporation, whose energies are harnessed by older folks who have commitments, but enough energy to see the vision and enough wisdom to harness the youthful exuberance that the startup world enjoys.

I question anyone who says they don't want that mix. Every group has benefits. 20-40: high energy, creative drive, 40-55: significant "skin in the game" (college tuitions, mortgages, retirement planning), wisdom and priotitization. 55-65: this is what age discrimination is directed at (and is real, in any industry)

Re:young versus old (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42113283)

If you ask me the biggest problem with the economy and business isn't republicans or democrats, it's that people whose best years and best ideas are behind them, but they want to squeeze the last drop of blood out and make sure every last cent is off the table (even at the expense of greater profit in 2-5 years with investment).

Close, but not quite. It's people who never had any "best years and best ideas" to begin with, but who do know one thing: how to "squeeze the last drop of blood out and make sure every last cent is off the table" by preying on the people who do have the good years and good ideas. And neither group is defined by age; if there are more older people in the former group, it's only because they've had longer to learn the tricks of effective parasitism.

Re:young versus old (4, Insightful)

lucm (889690) | about 2 years ago | (#42113407)

I think that's as much horseshit as thinking 40 and under make an ideal company. If you ask me the biggest problem with the economy and business isn't republicans or democrats, it's that people whose best years and best ideas are behind them, but they want to squeeze the last drop of blood out and make sure every last cent is off the table (even at the expense of greater profit in 2-5 years with investment). If they can do so with 6 month initiatives and lots of processes and Jack Welchian business practices, they will (and believe me, they do). Investors are no doubt leery of older people who are too experienced.

In its last quarter, Apple made about 50 billions and achieved an increase of around 25% of its earnings. Yet the value of its stock dropped because analysts expected more. What kind of message do you think this situation sends to executive? Focus on long-term growth?

Everybody cries about programmed obsolescence and incompatible adapters and software assurance and all other quick-money-making schemes, yet they sell their f*cking stock when one of the most profitable companies in the world does not meet analysts predictions on the last quarter. It's easy to blame those evil executive or those crooked bankers but the truth is that their own job is on the line if they don't make the silly numbers a bunch of charlatans are pulling out of thin air. And just about anyone with a trading account or a 401(k) is complicit to this madness.

Re:young versus old (2)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#42113535)

In its last quarter, Apple made about 50 billions and achieved an increase of around 25% of its earnings. Yet the value of its stock dropped because analysts expected more. What kind of message do you think this situation sends to executive?

If the executive is math literate, it sends the message that the street's valuation lead the harvesting of value.

For example, on an apple farm, one might survey the number of apples on the trees in August and predict an all-time bumper crop, but then the weather does something funky in early September and the harvest is only the best harvest of the past decade.

Wow, isn't that amazing. Smart people anticipate future fairly accurately, then make corrections on the day.

I hope you've got youth, because you're light on discernment. Or maybe you're wealthy enough to retire whatever age you might be because you shrewdly jumped on the Apple IPO six months before they delivered the first iPhone. Isn't it amazing what Apple has managed to accomplish in six short years with no previous history or market reputation.

"Smart People" (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#42113735)

If the executive is math literate, it sends the message that the street's valuation lead the harvesting of value.

These are the same "smart people" that currently have Amazon with a P/E 3,253. That is not a typo, the P/E is over 3k (to compare: Apple's P/E is 13.24, Google is 21.01)

So when's THAT harvest coming in? In the terms of your metaphor, it's like expecting the orchard will have a bumper crop, and that several dozen other solar systems with fertile planets will be found to grow on also.

Yeah, those guys sure are "smart" just like you!

Re:young versus old (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42113245)

... like girls throw wet panties at singers on stage.

I've need to go to the shows you go to.

Re:young versus old (1, Funny)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#42113473)

I need to practice my singing.

Re:young versus old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113585)

Rather than being on stage, wouldn't it be better to be next to one of those girls, now without panties and all turned on?

(Assuming, of course, that either she's 18+ or you're not.)

Re:young versus old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113617)

Rather than being on stage, wouldn't it be better to be next to one of those girls, now without panties and all turned on?

No. Chances are she'd be 80 and incontinent.

Re:young versus old (4, Interesting)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 2 years ago | (#42113507)

The age bias is because kids are young and stupid and will happily waste 40, 60, even 80 hours a week slaving away for peanuts on the Next Big Thing in computers.

Yeah - about that. Yesterday I sat down to help a under thirty developer with a sql query he'd worked on for an entire day and couldn't get to work.

Took me twenty minutes - but then again that's why I have a good job, and am over 40.

60+ just leads to more errors (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42113641)

60+ just leads to more errors and over time burn out.

And lot's of burn out / trun over is bad over the long run.

Re:young versus old (1)

matthaak (707485) | about 2 years ago | (#42113757)

If employer believes candidate A will do more work for less pay than candidate B, then hiring candidate A is a perfectly legitimate hiring decision and is hardly age "discrimination" just because candidate A is younger. If employer believes candidate A will do LESS work and require MORE pay than candidate B, but STILL hires candidate A because he is younger and the employer does not like old people, THAT is age discrimination.

Yeah, whatever. (5, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42113091)

15 years ago, I worked for a well known integrated chip manufacturer in Redmond Washington. They make very expensive power conditioning components for aerospace. It was my "dream job".

I started work there as a Database Admin at a salary of well into the 80's with a teaser to move into the 90's, I thought that after years of grunt IT work, I'd hit it. I was 35 at the time.

Well, of course there is a "and then it happened.." I got laid off.

Long story short, at 35, and the "peak" of my "career", I found that employers wanted 20 to 25 year olds because they would do the same job, except at 60 hours a week, and for less money.

So I went back to my military connections, and got a Civil Service job. I make less, but guess what? I have DECENT HEALTH CARE, and - here's the kicker - I GET 5 FUCKING WEEKS OF VACATION A YEAR.

The biggest benefit is that some 20-something puke is not going to take my job.

Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (-1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#42113181)

I GET 5 FUCKING WEEKS OF VACATION A YEAR.

I am sorry to say but it's folks like you that are responsible for the USA's [finacial] woes it finds itself in at this time.

To make matters worse, your statements do not reflect an iota of sorrow for the tax paying ordinary American!

Those five weeks should be cut down to say two, and your salary shuld be reduced by at least 20%. I can still find folks willing to do your job under such conditions.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113287)

Actually, I'd say that the 20-25 year olds willing to work 80+ hours a week 30k a year, and more importantly, those who exploit them are those responsible for the country's financial woes.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (4, Insightful)

Unnngh! (731758) | about 2 years ago | (#42113291)

Whenever I hear these types of arguments I always think there must be some psychological term for this. That is, whenever someone has been deprived of some benefit, it is all too easy to get him to rally behind depriving others of the same.

Why should every business endeavor be a race to the bottom for everyone but the shareholders?

And good god do you really want the people who will do the job just because it's a job? Desperation breeds loyalty by necessity but it is not a very healthy state of mind. I guarantee the civil service job is anything but sexy and probably pays nothing more than a reasonable wage. These are the tradeoffs that, generally speaking, have emerged from the free market system.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1, Interesting)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#42113401)

Why should every business endeavor be a race to the bottom for everyone but the shareholders?

They aren't. Shareholders (through their management employees) have an incentive to treat skilled employees reasonably well, since it can take a long time to replace and retrain them.

As far as unskilled workers go... well, we've let in ten million Central and South American peasants to remove the tiny bit of bargaining power they had. Pretty much whenever the Democrats and Republicans act in collusion someone is getting screwed, and this is one of those times.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113693)

Shareholders (through their management employees) have an incentive to treat skilled employees reasonably well, since it can take a long time to replace and retrain them.

The shareholders are pretty much either a) institutions who are interested only in how much the market forecast for the share price was beaten this quarter, or b) holders within 401(k)s within pension funds within mutual funds within shell companies who don't even know they own that specific stock, or c) the C-level managers themselves who've gotten their shares via options, or d) employees in the employee stock ownership plan (who can't vote their shares anyway). The "shareholders" are not paying the slightest bit of attention to what management is doing, or who the hell the managers are.

This lets the managers play whatever power games with their beaten slaves... er, direct reports, that they wish -- including paying them as little as possible so as to put more in their own pockets.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113503)

The term you are looking for is "envy". It is a desire to strip others of what they have that you don't. E.g., no one should have more vacation than me so I will work to reduce theirs instead of working to increase mine.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42113671)

The argument is, "you have something I don't have, therefore instead of working to raise myself I will take yours away." Pretty common. Go check out the racial studies department of any American university.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113673)

Whenever I hear these types of arguments I always think there must be some psychological term for this. That is, whenever someone has been deprived of some benefit, it is all too easy to get him to rally behind depriving others of the same.

I think it's called Uncle Tom Syndrome.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113299)

Dear bogaboga,

_You_ are the reason the US is a shit hole.

Instead of supporting a race to the bottom with slave wages, and no dignity (no time for self is the definition of lack of dignity), you should encourage all employers to treat their employees fairly (including your own). You, no doubt are not rich, but your words show you to be a faithful servant to your wealthy masters. Pathetic.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113319)

The public sector is not the reason why America's economy is in shitty shape. The greedy private sector banks + investors combined with garbage economic policies of the Clinton and Bush admins were what precipitated the whole mess.

While legitimately parts of the public sector / civil service could be arguably said to be wasteful or unnecessary, they're a small part of our budget.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (5, Insightful)

pwizard2 (920421) | about 2 years ago | (#42113361)

I hope your post is satire. If not, then fuck you.

You know what's really wrong with this country? It's the people at the top fucking over what's left of the middle class. Money doesn't trickle down, it rises upward if regular people have money to spend. People are working longer, harder, and for less while their jobs are being outsourced and benefits are being slashed. The 1% is making money hand over fist and even though they're richer than they've been in the last 50+ years they still bitch and moan when it comes time to pay their fair share of taxes. If they don't like Clinton rates then we could always go back to Eisenhower rates.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#42113367)

I am sorry to say but it's folks like you that are responsible for the USA's [finacial] woes it finds itself in at this time.

People who say things like this, and actually believe them, aren't entirely responsible for our economic problems, but they're probably the worst offenders.

To make matters worse, your statements do not reflect an iota of sorrow for the tax paying ordinary American!

(a) Federal employees pay taxes like everyone else. Yes, their jobs are ultimately paid for by everyone's tax dollars (including their own) but it makes no difference to the person getting the paycheck.

(b) I'm sure he feels a great deal of sorrow for the people caught up in the rat race of private-sector employment, which is why he's taken the step of not being one of them any more. Your statement makes as much sense as saying to someone who's happy to have survived cancer, "Your statements do not reflect an iota of sorrow for the people whose tumors don't respond to chemotherapy!"

Those five weeks should be cut down to say two, and your salary shuld be reduced by at least 20%.

(a) Right. God forbid someone should have a reasonable vacation and benefits package instead of being expected to work himself half to death. Clearly the solution is to drag everyone down to the same miserable level.

(a) You have no idea what his salary is. Most likely, it's less than his private-sector counterparts make. That's one of the tradeoffs you make when you take a government job. Sorry if that doesn't jibe with your ideology.

I can still find folks willing to do your job under such conditions.

Ah, got it. You're one of the parasites [slashdot.org] , then. See my first line, above.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (4, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#42113631)

You're quite correct, I do make less that the "private sector". A lot less.

People have this strange idea that most Federal workers are making "bank" and that just isn't so. I also work my ass of to support the mission of the agency I work for (the Air Force) for the benefit of all Americans. When you work for the government, you work for the People.

About my vacation. I said 5 weeks, but I started out with less than that. All the same, the United States is one of the FEW civilized countries in the world where most worker bees get so little vacation time, an almost INHUMAN 2 weeks?

Seriously, what can you do in 2 fucking weeks?

Yes, I know that all the right-wing Tea Baggers thing government workers should be happy with $10 an hour and 2 weeks a year, but you know what? They're "Tea Baggers" which mean they are also morons.

public vs. private (5, Informative)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 2 years ago | (#42113653)

During the dotcom bubble, I was at the top end of the age range (35-ish) that was fashionable and working for a US TLA as a general-purpose sysadmin greybeard in an all-Unix shop. I networked more than most and corresponded with lots of folks both in govt and the private sector. I don't know why I did it because I loved my work and wasn't looking for anything new but I did like to keep up and keep in touch with lots of folks. Also, it didn't hurt and sometimes greatly amused me that the part of my email address just to the left of the ".gov" tended to get my emails read.

During those years I turned down a number of job offers. I don't remember specifically; some were informal "let's talk" and others were "I'll pay you $X to come work for us". But I distinctly remember several offers that would have as much as quadrupled my pay (which would have put me at double the going rate since, as a fed, I was already being paid only about half what the average private sector employee in my position received.)

I never bit. Of those companies, none survive today. All of them wanted me to trade my 40-hour work week with time-and-a-half for overtime for positions where I essentially worked 24 hours a day, perhaps 12 at the office and the rest of the time wearing a pager. None offered more than a couple of holidays. None offered sick or vacation time that was more than a farce. The pay, though, would have been great if I was willing to step into the hamster wheel and start running.

So maybe I'm a doddering old fool. Maybe I was unambitious. All I know is that now I'm retired. My retirement check covers my expenses plus a little...and that's after deductions for all taxes, decent health insurance, very good life insurance, and fairly good long-term care insurance. It's not lounging on a yacht with supermodels but I'm not afraid of being three paychecks from living in my car, either.

Folks who spit on public-sector employees simply don't understand. I often wonder if it's worth the (usually wasted) effort I sometime put towards trying to help them see things from a broader perspective.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113415)

You're a clueless troll if that is what you believe the US's fiscal problems are.

I am in my 40's, an EE, almost 20 years experience, and paid well. I am paid well because I know my stuff and can get things done right the first time with minimal fuss. I have been working for my current employer for several years years and have a reasonable amount of job security. But even if I lose my job for unforeseen reasons, I am not worried because I know I can get hired even in this economy. This is not arrogance speaking; I know my stuff and employers will pay me for my experience and skill.

I can detect short sited employers like you and would never work for you. There are many talented technical people with similar experience as mine and can detect abusive and idiotic employers.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#42113645)

I am sorry to say but it's folks like you that are responsible for the USA's [finacial] woes it finds itself in at this time.

To make matters worse, your statements do not reflect an iota of sorrow for the tax paying ordinary American!

Those five weeks should be cut down to say two, and your salary shuld be reduced by at least 20%.

Funny how in many other countries, people start with 5 weeks of paid vacation and 35 hour weeks, and still have higher productivity than here in the USA.

Methinks there is something else wrong. Like zapping away the joy and pride of work by attempting to squeeze all you can get out of your workers. I wouldn't be surprised if a lesser amount of Americans like doing their job than in any other Western country. Hint: This isn't the fault of the workers.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#42113649)

I GET 5 FUCKING WEEKS OF VACATION A YEAR.

I am sorry to say but it's folks like you that are responsible for the USA's [finacial] woes it finds itself in at this time.

The USA doesn't have any financial woes. When a Democrat is president everyone wrings their hands about public debt, but when a Republican is president everyone wants to cut taxes and go on a spending spree. Even now, nothing is as important as balancing the budget -- except prolonging the Bush tax cuts. Letting those expire would go a long way toward fixing the "problem", but the deficit hawks won't even consider it.

This is just disaster capitalism brought home to roost. Squeeze the middle and working classes, because... well, because you can.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113753)

fools don't get it.... Deficits don't matter ask Chaney... Deficits are for Republicans to go ape-shit over when Democrats are in office... Its amazing how many fools out there eat the spoon fed garbage from the Koch Borther's supported institutes and their derivatives...Austrian Economics is antiquated ideology and widely discredited as a macro economic tool by anyone out side of the right as it often results in deflationary spirals.

Re:Congratulating yourself? You should be sorry! (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42113717)

Decent health care -- 5 weeks vacation? You think that's bad?

Sounds like what every other developed western country gives all its citizens. I want every American to get that too (as we used to).

You sound like you have too much money. I don't think you're paying enough taxes. I think your taxes should be raised.

Taxes in the US are the lowest they've been in modern times, and lower than any other developed country. The rich are moochers and freeloaders like Romney who pay a lower proportion than the rest of us (thanks to handouts like the Bush tax cuts). That tax money should come from the rich.

Re:Yeah, whatever. (5, Interesting)

KingMotley (944240) | about 2 years ago | (#42113539)

I kinda did the same thing, although I didn't get laid off. I got into a disagreement with the president of my then current company, and he asked me if I still wanted to work there. I stuttered for a second, and I said no. He was floored, since I had worked there for 15+ years, was the head of R&D and was fairly indispensable at the time (Noone is indispensable, but they were definitely hurting for a couple years after I left). I took some serious time off, and when I started actually looking for something to do, I found being a consultant changed a lot of things for me. No longer were people looking for the 20-somethings that would work 80-hours, they actually wanted someone who knew what they were doing, and would do it for them quickly (because all of a sudden now they have to pay by the hour). I can honestly say, I never want to go back. My clients are happy, and I'm happy. I'm no longer bitching about having to work 60-100 hour work weeks because my boss is unreasonable and I'm not getting paid for it. Now I actually DO get paid for it, and NO client of mine wants me to work over 40 hours a week because they don't want to pay me 150% of my normal rate. They are more than happy to delay whatever it was that they needed another week to save themselves a few bucks.

Sorry, but any investor you want to deal with will (4, Informative)

Assmasher (456699) | about 2 years ago | (#42113109)

...not give a rat's a** what your age is if you've got a good idea AND a good implementation (ideas are cheap - despite what you may think.)

I perform technical due diligences for multiple investors and they do consider the makeup of teams but never has age been a factor in the decision making.

Re:Sorry, but any investor you want to deal with w (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#42113523)

ideas are cheap - despite what you may think

That's what they say, but what's the difference between an idea and a vision? Or between an idea and speaking from experience?

Let the free market decide (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113111)

If people past 40 are valuable, wouldn't some company which doesn't discriminate against them benefit more and market forces will drive out age discrimination. I have a feeling many people in tech fields think doing the same job they did when they were in their 20s is a brilliant idea. Either move up or get replaced by newer crop of talent.

Re:Let the free market decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113727)

If people past 40 are valuable, wouldn't some company which doesn't discriminate against them benefit more and market forces will drive out age discrimination. I have a feeling many people in tech fields think doing the same job they did when they were in their 20s is a brilliant idea. Either move up or get replaced by newer crop of talent.

Many people in tech fields are doing the same job they did when they were in their 20s, not because they think it's a brilliant idea, but because it's easy to get pigeon-holed as being whatever your last position was. Take a VB job once, and all of a sudden you're "the VB guy". (I took a two-week gig doing Crystal Reports once... two years later I was still doing Crystal Reports, and had to quit the consulting firm to escape!)

And telling 50 people they have to move up into 20 slots or be replaced, is telling 30 people they have no fucking future there. Go read about the Peter Principle, and realize that sooner or later, *you* are going to be in that group without a future there.

IT should do what doctors and lawyers do: start a guild and keep most of the young people out. Sure our industry will stagnate; so what? The "industry" doesn't give a damn about us, why should we give a damn about it?

Re:Let the free market decide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113761)

I have a feeling many people in tech fields think doing the same job they did when they were in their 20s is a brilliant idea.

Absolutely they do. Because moving up often means moving to a job that sucks. I'm in my early thirties and wish I could go back to doing the job I did in my twenties. Because despite odd/long hours and assorted bullshit, it was fun.

Management isn't fun unless you're a sociopath.

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113119)

What happened to Slashdot? Only 12 comments? Did everybody quit working in IT? I remember in the early 2000s, Slashdot was like the hub of all engineers.

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113297)

We grew up and we're not engineers anymore!

Goes perfect with asking for 30 yr exp with Java (4, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#42113137)

Whoa now, some of those 40 year old techies actually have enough qualifications to fit the impossible requests on job requirements. If we hire them, we can't get more H1Bs and complain to congress there aren't enough skilled workers in the US despite a depressed economy where jobs are hard to come by.

Re:Goes perfect with asking for 30 yr exp with Jav (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113577)

There are many h1bs over 40 so plzzzz

Combating Age Discrimination (4, Interesting)

DERoss (1919496) | about 2 years ago | (#42113143)

Suing an employer for age discrimination is very difficult. Proving it in a court of law is almost impossible. Worse, a former head of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sat on some 20,000 age discrimination complaints until the statute of limitations expired. That person is now a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court -- Clarence Thomas.

When seeking a job, however, there are things you can do on your own to reduce the likelihood of age discrimination. In your resume (electronic or hardcopy), omit any experience more than 10-12 years old. While listing schools attended and degrees earned, omit the years. Both men and women should use hair dye to "cover the gray", but men should not hide their baldness. (Young men are often bald by choice; but a comb-over, weave, or toupee too easily indicates an older man.)

Re:Combating Age Discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113385)

...Both men and women should use hair dye to "cover the gray", but men should not hide their baldness. (Young men are often bald by choice; but a comb-over, weave, or toupee too easily indicates an older man.)

Yes, because "date of birth" is never asked by a potential employer on any application or employment form. I'm certain that Just for Men will land you that job, and they'll never discover your actual age.

Sounds like a great plan you got there.

I call BS (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113151)

No good software engineer need be unemployed. There is just too much work.

I started coding professionally in 1970 and I'm still coding. Not a single day of unemployment so far, and I don't expect one anytime soon. Just keep up your skills and maintain a network of current and former coworkers, just in case. And do good work so people want to keep you around.

Re:I call BS (1)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about 2 years ago | (#42113279)

all my imaginary mod points to you sir!

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113459)

While I agree that the industry will likely pick you up regardless of age if you're talented, it's still a fact that age discrimination exists. My employer had a round of layoffs last year in our development group of people who are all > 40. A month or two later HR posted job openings in the same department and same job description but with the stipulation that you had to be a recent college grad. Of course you can be a recent college grad at 56 but we all know that's just not likely. So it is de facto discrimination.

The people they laid off were well-experienced and talented people. The bean counters and HR decided that they were costing too much money.

Re:I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113751)

If I could maintain a network of people, coworkers or otherwise, I wouldn't have gone into computers in the first damn place.

Strange (1)

louzer (1006689) | about 2 years ago | (#42113165)

Strange how what the western world calls egalitarian, means meritocracy in the east.

It could be a acceptance of the word engineered by the intellectuals, so that when they change the meaning few will notice. Sorry to be conspiratorial.

Re:Strange (1)

louzer (1006689) | about 2 years ago | (#42113169)

*an

Old needs to be special (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42113203)

If you're old, you need to be special. Like an actual expert.
With age comes expectations.

And this is a secret how? (2)

kriston (7886) | about 2 years ago | (#42113233)

And this is a secret how?
I developed grey hair in my early twenties.
Depending on whether I've dyed it back to its original color, the experience of age bias is universal, whether tech firm, fellow parents, or getting carded for liquor.

wha'ts wrong (0)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#42113237)

So what if old farts get left out in the cold?

They've almost by definition had more of an opportunity to get themselves a legacy.

Giving young people a better shot is actually fairer in general because you get older as you age.

Re:wha'ts wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113305)

because you get older as you age.

Link?

Re:wha'ts wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113469)

Who cares if the young feel the boot of their elders on their throat. They have their entire lives to look forward to. Maybe they should get back into mom and dad's basement and leave the innovation to their betters.

Old skool is kewl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113275)

lord knows, some of them might even know "the command line"...

It's all about risk (4, Insightful)

dubbayu_d_40 (622643) | about 2 years ago | (#42113295)

Most of the successful people I know got that way to because they took a risk they were largely unaware of. These people were either psychopathic or young, both stupid. For every one of them, I'm sure there are thousands who suffered the consequences.

But as an investor, who would you go with? The crazy ones of course.

Old versus young. (3, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 2 years ago | (#42113411)

The funny thing I've found throughout my is that companies run and inevitably staffed by younger people tend to be a mess. Everything is done inefficiently, emotions affect decisions and everyone is far too comfortable working excessively long hours. They're definitely a lot more in tune with the latest trends, but they're also a lot more likely to waste their time on unproductive nonsense.

Companies run by an older group tend to be far more stable and productive. Ironically, you're also a lot more likely to be appreciated. The challenge, however, is not getting stuck somewhere that's stagnated.

On the employee side, however, if you want job security in the long term you'd better be considering management or a very special niche for yourself.

So here's my question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113417)

Why is the slash crowd so much against life extension if they believe in the age bias?

Inredible bias here (4, Insightful)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#42113419)

"I don't think in the outside world, outside tech, anyone in their 40s would think age discrimination was happening to them," says Cliff Palefsky

I love this, only a person who can't remember their youth would make such a ridiculous statement. Age discrimination is ever-present, but tech is one of the few areas where it works in reverse. Remember not being able to vote or drink or smoke or drive or choose where you wanted to live or go to school? Yeah... no age discrimination.

Problems with a younger boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113437)

He got a Ph.D. and immediately became a "VP" at some startup, he has almost no experience with teamwork, and he expects you to work like another slaving graduate student (or one of their undergraduate slaves, for the smarter grad students ;) ). It's a start-up with flex time, so he doesn't show up until noon and does not leave his office except to hand out orders. He asks you to do another task when you've been there for 9 hours already. He plans and plans, then balks when it's time to spend money (then yells at you when the project isn't done on time). He gets approval to hire new staff, but half a year later, he hasn't bothered to interview anyone, and you're stuck doing all the extra work needed for the growth. The list goes on... And he's my boss.

You know, I think I might like to try an older boss. Maybe he or she would have enough experience to know how to work with employees and how to execute plans.

Third week in a row, make your own decisions (2, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 years ago | (#42113461)

The tech world is different. Different because it's based not on hard labour, but on making clear and correct decisions. Be it programming, analysis, or project management, in this world the real effort isn't in the work; it's in deciding what work should be done.

The actual work -- the long hours, the youth-oriented efforts discussed in the post -- is the blue-collar work. It's the low-wage, low-responsibilty, low-risk work of this industry. Of course it's best-suited to the young.

It's not age discrimination to say that any 40 year-old in this industry should know how to make decisions without being told what to do. It's not age discrimination to say that any 40 year-old in this industry should be ready and willing to take responsibility for their own decisions. It's not age discrimination to say that any 40 year-old in this industry should want to be accountable for their work and take the financial risks associated with that work.

What makes this industry different is that the lowly bottom-rung intern programmer has a direct path through project management into senior management right from the start. Unlike most other industry, there's no "management track". Everyone's in the management track. That intern should become a team programmer, then a senior programmer, then a team leader, then a senior team leader, then a team manager, then a senior manager, and then should be acquiring and selling to their own (or partially own) clients.

So given a 40 year-old, with more than 5 years of experience in the industry, who isn't in a management role, it's not age discrimination to say that the person isn't interested in becoming anything more than they already are. And given a employee who isn't interested in moving up, it's not age discrimination to prefer an employee who does.

This industry is all about those willing to spend an absurd amount of time focusing on a ridiculously specific task, and those willing to risk their finances on the success and viability of their own decisions. If you aren't willing to work through the night routinely, and you aren't willing to put your own money on the line, then there are plenty of other industries for you.

Believe it or not, this industry is not about four decades of being told what to do. It's about 2 years of being told, 2 years of being taught, 2 years of being encouraged, and if you don't get it by then, 2 years of finding someone else. As an employer, I'm not interested in the 40 year-old that I need to supervise. I'm not interested in risking my money on the reliability of that 40 year-old. And I'm not interested in paying such an employee more than I would to someone I'm expecting to grow.

So, as always, if you don't like the employment options available to you, start your own business and do it however you like.

Start a business that only hires 40 year-olds. That's perfectly fine too. It can be the first question in your interview. It can be the only question in your interview. Make it work your way. Stop complaining when others do it their way. That's exactly the point. Either make decisions, or do what you're told. And sometimes, what you're told is that you simply aren't good enough. So when that time comes, stand up and prove otherwise with your own business. Some of us have.

Good News Everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113489)

You've all been fired... Oh whaa-? The good news? Oh mai... You've all been replaced!

vulture capitalists prey on the young (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#42113495)

lets just cut to the chase and call it what it is. The inexperienced getting taken advantage of. For every facebook there are hundreds of failures and I doubt that a venture capital firm would be so eager to invest in these if they had no way to extract a profit from them. Older also means more savy.

This is true elsewhere as well (1)

shm (235766) | about 2 years ago | (#42113547)

I first got laid off a few weeks before my 40th after shipping a huge product (successfully) for an east coast company. The excuse was that I had ruffled way too many feathers while delivering it on schedule (i.e. the software process monkeys.)

Just got laid off again from a west coast company at the age of 45. This time my "job was relocated to East Europe."

I'm in Bangalore, India now, BTW. Speaks for itself.

kickstarter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42113561)

Nt

There is hope for older engineers (4, Interesting)

Sarusa (104047) | about 2 years ago | (#42113601)

Everybody at my place is over 30, mostly over 40, and we have several over 70. A lot of people come here after 'retirement' because they just go stir crazy sitting at home and not solving problems.

We have a hardcore interview on real world problem solving skills and experience (not Google or MS gotcha brain teasers) and it's very easy to get a feel for how internally motivated someone is. We hire the good people even though they cost a lot more than the ones right out of college. But a good experienced guy can get twice the work done with half the effort/time, because we've already made all the mistakes - and then twice that at least if nobody else on the team is dragging them down. Another 2x if management isn't! It's a bargain if you look at it like that.

Silicon Valley works on the model of 'hire newbies and burn through their endless energy for cheap while we spend the VC money on goodies' so what the story says isn't wrong. But I'd like to let experienced middle-aged people who really feel driven to engineer know that you can always get a good job at a decent small to mid-sized company - the job market there is huge. I get at least a couple job inquiries every month, and they know how old I am.

It's the driven part that counts - I get a high off solving problems and making cool useful stuff, and so do the other people here. I've never thumbs downed a candidate who had decent skills and just couldn't stop talking about the cool things s/he'd done. But we can all smell a stagnant large company 'lifer' when s/he walks in the door. If you've got the drive, don't let yourself get trapped, even if 'it's a job!'

Overstated (4, Insightful)

samantha (68231) | about 2 years ago | (#42113629)

I have been in software for 32 years professionally. Whether there is age discrimination or not it is certainly not evenly distributed across all employers. It is not easy to find employees and co-workers who are adept at software. Even merely adequate software engineers can be elusive to find. So many companies realize that discrimination on any basis is not something they can afford. I am 58 now and still going strong. There is no way I experienced any age discrimination in my 40s. And there are several people at my current small company (80 people or so) who are older than I.

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