Parental Guidance not wanted: A stubborn and grumpy few cause age discrimination in technology

As today's digital revolutionaries get older, they too, will confront the issues of ageing and hopefully adjust their perspective accordingly.

By Bradley de Souza
July 6, 2017

Today, opportunities are easier in some respects because well executed good ideas can literally explode across the connected world in no time.

Our business leaders are younger because they are able to lead technology initiatives they themselves have created and made successful from a young age.

However, in the technology startup world, failure is much more common than success. The startup world is littered with failures which seem glaringly obvious to those with more mature perspectives and longer memories. Well- funded projects, don't die immediately or ‘fail fast’. The funding enables them to make plenty of errors which, after careful review, could have been avoided with the benefit of more wisdom and experience.

The myth that it takes 10,000 hours to master any skill should be better stated that it takes 10,000 hours to make fewer mistakes. The broader the field of expertise, the longer it takes for experience to reduce the error rate. This is the very definition of quality, fewer and fewer errors. In the physical world, errors impact durability, safety, performance, usability. In the digital world, the impacts go further, also affecting scalability, availability and modularity.

Regardless of population demographics, the issues of age, gender and racial diversity are the same everywhere.


Enabling age discrimination

Whilst companies seem to remove older people with impunity, they also enable age discrimination at the hiring stage. When recruiting for junior level roles, those usually filled by younger people, the process is structured, objective and rigorous.

As the roles become more senior, the process becomes unstructured and more subjective. Individual hiring manager bias often goes unchecked and overall, the process is subject to less scrutiny.

The recruitment industry is also complicit in the same way. Recruitment consultants want to please their clients, those who ultimately pay the bills. Hiring managers can explicitly direct the recruitment industry in any direction they want. Given this, how else could such major diversity discrepancies occur?

Regardless of population demographics, the issues of age, gender and racial diversity are the same everywhere.


Conclusion and a glimmer of hope

For the sake of a few who confirm the stereotype, many older people are impacted. Consequently, older workers in the field of technology will continue to be forcibly retired early. Much needed wisdom and experience will be lost from the technology industry. This could signal to people that technology isn't a stable, long term profession, thereby exacerbating a skills shortage that already exists.

Young people are supposed to rebel against their parents, against authority figures, in that it’s in their job description, that’s what they do. This behaviour has led to the revolution of so many aspects of our lives.

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