Tech & Work

Talking Shop: Techs feel the sting of age discrimination

How to battle age discrimination

The popular images of the IT industry are filled with glimpses of trendy offices, casual wear, and young brilliant techs working long hours, trying to be the next IT success story. What’s missing from these glimpses is the older tech. Not so much gray but definitely older than the twentysomethings that have such a strong foothold in the IT job market. But why are these experienced techs missing from the industry’s landscape? Is the tech world suffering from age discrimination? To find out, we posted a survey to see what effect age had on hiring, promotions, and salaries. The results were discouraging.

Two-thirds of those who took our survey said they had been discriminated against because of their age, and nearly half had seen someone else in their IT support department discriminated against for that same reason (see Figure A).

Figure A

If you think only older IT workers took our survey, think again. Figure B shows an even distribution of age groups. Experience level was also well dispersed, with only a slight concentration in the one to 10 year range.

Figure B

The effects of and response to age discrimination
When people suffer age discrimination, it can take several forms, including:
  • Not being hired
  • Receiving a lower salary
  • Being denied a promotion

Our survey found that of those who felt discriminated against, the majority said they had not been hired. Of the respondents who reported seeing someone else being discriminated against, the majority said that the other individual had not been promoted. It is unclear why one group felt that not being hired was the outcome of the age discrimination, while the other group felt that being denied a promotion was the result. Perhaps it’s because office politics keep discrimination within the company’s ranks lower profile than the less loyalty-driven hiring process allows.

Our survey also found that the majority of respondents took no action against the company that discriminated against them. This is the case for three-quarters of the respondents who believe they were discriminated against. As for the group who reported seeing someone else being discriminated against, two-thirds of the time, there were no actions taken when the discrimination happened (see Figure C).

Figure C


Age limit in IT?
Have you been discriminated against in the IT field because of your age? Do you know someone else who has? How do you know that age was used to discriminate against you or a peer? Tell us what you think in the discussion below or send us a note.


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