We hear a lot about the gender gap in the technology industry, but perhaps more pervasive is the age gap in tech. The perception of Silicon Valley is of a youth-centered culture, with older workers being obsolete. However, diversity is crucial to a healthy workplace. Technology careers should be just as accessible to older workers as younger “techies.”
Ageism in tech is more pervasive possibly because it is more accepted than racism, sexism, or other forms of job discrimination. Many tech CEOs strive for a youthful, hip corporate culture that leaves no room for veteran employees. That is exactly what the CEO and co-founder of sales and marketing firm HubSpot told the New York Times recently. Brian Halligan says that, “in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated.”
Breaking Down the Numbers
While the average age for U.S. workers across the board in every industry is 42, the median age for Silicon Valley companies is 31. At social media giants Facebook and LinkedIn, the median age is 29. This can be daunting for senior workers whose wealth of experience and knowledge may not be enough.
Not all older tech workers are walking away from the industry quietly, however. Since 2008, Silicon Valley’s top 150 companies faced 226 age discrimination complaints. That is almost 30 percent more than racial discrimination claims made during the same time. HP and Google are both facing age-bias lawsuits filed by employees who allege they were terminated and replaced by younger workers.
Reasons for the Age Discrepancy
The reasons for the lack of age diversity in the tech workplace vary. In a landscape of young entrepreneurs building websites in their college dorms and hoping to become rich overnight, extensive and impressive resumes do not hold the same cache they once did. Technology moves fast, and some young executives assume that older workers cannot keep up, or their skills and knowledge are obsolete. Also, older workers may expect a higher salary to match their experience.
Some older workers are going to great lengths to adapt to the culture of youth in tech. Experienced technology workers have not just re-vamped their resumes, but have invested in new, more trendy wardrobes to appear younger. Some have even undergone plastic surgery to erase the years. These extreme actions show just what people will do to stay relevant – and employed – in the tech industry.
To reduce the age gap in technology, employers and workers must meet half way. Every experienced worker can benefit from updating their skills and professional development – making them more marketable. Tech executives should know that by discounting older prospects, they could very well be missing out on the invaluable real-world experience and insight that only come with age.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Fight Age Discrimination
Workers over 40 who feel they have been treated unfairly or even terminated because of their age do have recourse under the law. If you believe you are a victim of age discrimination, contact the Cherry Hill employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. by calling our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or by reaching out to us at 888-396-0736 or online.