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Does Age Discrimination Really Exist?

By tmcclure ·
I was in a forum called "How Satisfied Are You With Your Current IT Job?" Several posts mentioned that they had experienced age discrimination. This really struck me. I always thought age discrimination doesn't exist. That it was all in your head. Perhaps it is because it is a lack of confidence. Or, you realize your getting older and don't like it. I know I have felt that way once or twice.

All the while also thinking about how satisfied I am with my job. Like all jobs, mine has its ups and downs. But once in a while I get the urge to see what else is out there. And I have to admit I think about my age. Being 48 years old I am still naive about people. So how do you know you?re a victim of age discrimination when looking for a job? How prevalent is it and how real is it?

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by beads In reply to Does Age Discrimination R ...

Certainly, age discrimination exists on a number of levels. The easiest example is that of the cliche': How do I get experience if no one will give me a chance? Thats generally age discrimination, albeit to the younger side not the generally (older) age discrimination usually portrayed.

Now that I am in my 40s I can say that I have seen both the "too young" and "too old" sides of age discrimination in the IT field. When I started I was too young and "didn't know anything" as much of the IT pros out there were in there late 30s and beyond. After the dot com bust I found myself being "too old" and "unable to keep my skills up to date. Not!! My skills were up to date along with that hefty salary base that experience brings as well.

Though I never inherently look at a persons age when hiring there have been times I have passed on someone because of age but only to a slight degree. Generally, the more critical a project the more I am going to look at the rate of completion and dedication that an individual brings to the table. Sometimes hiring someone a bit more mature is a good thing in this direct because they have a better work ethic. Sometimes, family gets in the way. Most of the time it just comes down to who can do the job most adequetely.

However, it certainly does happen all the time.

- beads

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Always has, always will

by amcol In reply to Certainly

Volumes could be written on this subject but let's keep it simple.

There are those who discriminate against others because of a prejudice. It's essentially a rejection of another due to a condition of their humanity...age, race, gender, religion, eye color, height, whatever. People who hate need no rational reason for that hatred. They only know they hate.

There are those who disciminate situationally and find interesting ways to rationalize it. A manager decides not to hire a highly qualified candidate on the basis of the applicant being older, rationalizing that another less experienced person can perform the fundamental job responsibilities for less money. Or, on the basis that the group the applicant will be joining is composed solely of 20-somethings and a 50 year old won't fit in. Or, because the 30-something manager is threatened at the idea of managing someone old enough to be his/her father, or that an older worker will immediately be after his/her job. What makes this interesting, in a pathetic and demented kind of way, is that the manager usually fools him/herself into thinking they're actually doing the right thing.

I could go on and on and on but you get the idea.

It's an age old human condition that we prefer to be with people we perceive to be like ourselves, and reject those we deem different. This is not a dynamic that will ever go away. All we can do is become more educated and objective about it, and fight it wherever we detect it. Best place to start is with ourselves...don't discriminate against others and set the right kind of example. You're the only person you have control over.

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Old farts usually cost more because of their experience levels and skills

by sleepin'dawg In reply to Certainly

If you only need a warm body you go with youth but if the project is critical then you hire as much skill and experience as you can afford. BTW I classify myself among the old farts.

Dawg ]:)

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is it really discrimination?

by firestar1 In reply to Old farts usually cost mo ...

If you are hiring someone who is older for their experience and they also have the credintials then how can anyone call it age discrimination? I realize if they are older and have more experience along with the same credintials as a younger person, then the older person has the advantage, but you will be wearing the same shoes a few years down the line (speaking to the young whipper snappers,not the old farts) :)

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You have it backwards

by amcol In reply to is it really discriminati ...

What you're describing is reverse age discrimination, hiring someone on the basis of the fact that they actually have all the battle scars and coffee mugs to attest to their many years of experience.

Age discrimination is more usually a term that refers to hiring younger workers who cost less.

It should be true that older workers have an advantage due to our experience, but unfortunately it's something that's usually held against us. Experience comes with a price, and companies are increasingly unwilling to pay.

The good news is that this trend will reverse itself of necessity over the next ten to twenty years. Profound demographic shifts are at the leading edge of the baby boom generation retires there's a significant dearth of qualified professionals available to take our place, due to the baby bust. There will be more than enough opportunity for all, even factoring in the increasing number of trained professionals coming from India and China. As those economies grow and consumerism rises, goods and services will have to increase as a consequence. Opportunity will abound.

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Age discrimination exists in every workplace

by AV . In reply to Does Age Discrimination R ...

Especially in corporate America, which has a younger culture. After you get to a certain age - 40 something - you may no longer fit in according to them. Plus, older more experienced people expect more money and raise their health insurance rates.

I lost my corporate job right after I turned 40 in a company bloodletting. They kept the younger people, even if they didn't know as much as I did. Of course, they offered me a generous severance package as long as I didn't sue them for discrimination. I took the package and moved on, but if I was able to afford not to take the package, I would have sued them. I now work for a smaller company that actually values older workers.

I think you know you're the victim of age discrimination when you have a great yearly review, get a nice raise and then end up being eliminated shortly thereafter.

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by noyoki In reply to Age discrimination exists ...

Actually, I've had it the other way. I'm 25, female, and look about 16. (And even that is pushing it. I've gotten pegged at 12 quite a few times still.)

Finally, I found a company willing to "take a chance" and hire me over one other person (who, as I understand it, had a shady background). Sad to say that I think that's the only reason I got it. (That and I knew the person I would eventually be replacing, even though it wasn't actually her decision.)

People just don't bother to look past what I look like and I end up in the "rejected" pile.

.02c from a "whipper-snapper".

ps: you're only as young (or old!) as you feel!

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Excellent point

by amcol In reply to Opposite...

Here's a great example of reverse age discrimination. "You can't have the job because you're too old" is what we usually talk about in this category. You've been hearing "you can't have the job because you're too young". Works both ways.

It reinforces the point that it's all an excuse. We all have two choices...lament our fate, or do something about it. I'll take door number two. Good for you that you did as well.

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yes it does

by Jaqui In reply to Does Age Discrimination R ...

and it goes both ways. ( as mentioned in other posts )

I find that it's often better to hire younger people, if you are only using latest and greatest equipment and are strictly an ms shop.

for ability to deal with reality for most businesses, older, more experienced people are worth the money it takes to get and keep them.
specially if you have a mixed os environment, or are completely non ms.

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This is a point worth expanding

by amcol In reply to yes it does

Sometimes we are the architects of our own demise.

Jaqui said "I find that it's often better to hire younger people, if you are only using latest and greatest equipment".

I've found the same, and I go out of my way NOT to discriminate on the basis of anything. The reality is that IT professionals who get into their 40's or even 50's and are still coding or assembling equipment have become stuck in a comfort zone. We can fool ourselves into thinking that wisdom spawned and nutured through long experience makes us better at our jobs than those who come after us, but the incremental value of that experience in lower level jobs is simply not cost justified. You can say you're willing to spend your peak earning years at a compensation level equivalent to that of your junior colleagues, but no company will buy that line nor should you be willing to sell it.

We must continually evolve to avoid being marginalized. Commodity skills, those that can be applied identically in any environment, are not what differentiates us as professionals. Think of yourself as a product for sale...would you buy the same product offered 25 years ago, when there are newer products on the market? No matter how great the old product was? When the new products can do the job better, faster, and with less breakdowns? I know how cold that sounds, but reality isn't the warm fuzzy place we'd like it to be.

Should we blame companies for discriminating against older workers who refuse to develop new skills, who think that their value lies in having 30 years of experience when in reality they've had one year of experience 30 times over? I don't.

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