Discrimination and bias are still major problems in tech, according to a new study from Dice. In addition, ageism is alive and well.
As the Dice Diversity and Inclusion Survey points out, Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers are the most at-risk groups for age discrimination. (Nearly 4,000 tech pros responded to the survey across the United States and United Kingdom.)
Some 68 percent of Baby Boomers say they’re discouraged from applying for jobs due to age. Around 40 percent of those who belong to Generation X feel ageism is affecting their ability to earn a living. And 29 percent of all respondents say they’ve “experienced or witnessed” ageism in their current workplace or most recent employer.
Distilling the results further, the survey found those in their late 40s (ages 46 through 49, specifically) were particularly affected. Of this group, a staggering 80 percent say they’re concerned their age (and ageism attitudes) will affect their careers.
But why do tech pros feel such discrimination? Self-reported data often doesn’t answer ‘why’ someone responds a certain way, but there’s ample evidence of ageism in tech. In an interview with Dice, Dan Lyons, a former journalist and writer for HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” said that older tech pros may feel like time has passed them by. “On the one hand, I kind of feel like I’m better at what I do now than I was when I was 35, but I also get that I’m probably not as opted-in,’ he said.
“I think it starts with those guys—the investors, what they want and what they push for,” Lyons added. “I think they’ve all decided that the optimal return is young kids: Burn them out, get rid of them, replace them.”
Even job ads are potentially discriminatory. A recent lawsuit filed by the Communications Workers of America claims that Facebook, one of the largest digital ads marketplaces on Earth, is filtering job ads to a younger crowd, violating fair employment laws in the process.
We don’t think all hope is lost for the older crowd. A better outlook and some preparation can help, but these clearly aren’t total solutions; the overall landscape in tech suggests ageism is real, palpable, and is having a negative effect.