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Too Old To Earn Big In IT?
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Number 6
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Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/7/2014 | 11:14:36 AM
Tw o Comments
1- The BLS statistics on unemployment are for the general population, not IT. I'd bet the IT rates would be higher at older ages.

2- Age discrimination is rampant but difficult to prove in court short of a smoking gun memo. H.R. departments are always careful to say it's a skills issue, not your age, even if it isn't.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:12:23 PM
Re: Tw o Comments
@Number6: There's a definite gap in the government stats. The BLS provides broad unemployment data broken down by age ranges, and the Occupational Employment Statistics provides a breakdown by industry sector but does not have demographic information such as age or gender for those specific industry categories. I'll keep digging. Meanwhile, here are some stats about what the OES calls "computer and mathematical occupations." This information was updated April 1, 2014 for calendar year 2013:

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm#15-0000

To your second point, I have heard from many sources that age discrimination is rampant in IT.

What I don't know is what it looks like.

Let's go beyond what's spelled out by law: Tell us what you've seen or experienced in IT that you felt was indicative of age discrimination.

 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
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7/7/2014 | 10:53:12 PM
Re: Tw o Comments

@Number 6     I agree with second point.  Age discrimination is rampant and certainly not exclusive to IT, but the point you make about H.R. is one of my pet peeves - H.R. is always spouting about the rights of employees, particularly in terms of perceived harassment - but age discrimination, oh well that is the elephant in the room that they quietly condone.

Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 6:24:58 PM
Re: Tw o Comments
@Technocrati: Why is it, do you think, that age discrimination is taken less seriously by HR than other forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
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7/8/2014 | 7:17:45 PM
Re: Tw o Comments

@S.N     I do think age discrimination is easier to ignore.   And just because it is ignored  doesn't mean the issue doesn't exist or loose it 's moral weight.   But often most H.R. department ignore this aspect as well.   

 The department is so hypocritical when it comes to this issue, if H.R. is going to deal with issues, don't just pick the easy ones.  

I am beginning to think that maybe there is a correlation between the number of harassment cases to the actual structure of most H.R. departments today, which are comprised of mostly women.  

What topics does one think this group will be well versed in ?   Age Discrimination ?  or Sexual  harassment ?

As they say,  "the numbers don't lie".  

Following this logic, unless a older person has been sexually harassed, then he or she should not expect too much more that "lip service" from their H..R. department.  

I often think my view towards H.R. is too tough or perhaps even unfair.   That they really are just doing a job, but who truly gate-keeps ?     

 

No-one.  And that is the problem.

Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 7:49:17 PM
Re: Tw o Comments
@Technocrati: I would add that in many organizations H.R. has really been defanged and is seen as nothing more than the place that administers benefits and handles 401K. That was certainly true in most of the places I have worked in the past 15 years or so, though I'm happy to say not so in my current company. I would love to do further study of this, and really chase down the numbers. I wonder if it's also the case that the laws concerning sexual harassment are more encompassing or clear than those concerning age discrimination. is there a lawyer in the house? 
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
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7/7/2014 | 11:43:17 AM
The ADEA field of dreams
Here's a test. Go back to 1999 and take a look at the number of IT professionals 45 years old or older.   Now go to 2010 and tell me how many of those same individuals where still in the IT field.   I'm betting the majority where not and those that still were had career slumps.  This at a time when the labor department predicted high demand and still does.  Beginning in the mid-1990s IBM started firing employees age 50 and up.  These employees (about 50,000) filed a class action lawsuit against IBM.  The case went to the US Supreme Court where they found in favor of IBM.  The judges ruled that as long as all employees 50 and up were being treated the same there was no violation of ADEA.  In 2001 IBM again fired older workers but this time used the age of 40  and up (about 20,000) and again a class action suit was filed and again the Supreme Court found in IBM's favor.  The 1967 ADEA law isn't worth the paper it's printed on according to the Supreme Court.
Ariella
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Ariella,
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7/7/2014 | 1:30:44 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
I have an online acquaintance with someone who worked in IT for decades. When his last job ended, he said he really didn't believe he'd have a shot at a new one, as he was already 62. In truth, in other fields, it also can be difficult to find a new job at that point, but IT, in particular, is often associated with younger people in the minds of some of the gatekeepers. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:38:52 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@Ariella: I've heard similar stories, and across many different industries. Though it seems particularly acute and perhaps more blatant in tech these days. Your friend has  my sympathies, and I find it rather ridiculous that one is not valued for their experience. The assumption I see made also is that older employees are not as agile and flexible in their thinking and in my experience that is 100% NOT the case. I've encountered employees of all ages who were agile and I've encountered plenty of younger employees who were extremely rigid in their thinking and completely in capable of ciritical thinking or function on their own without being told what to do.

Job Perfromance has so much more to do with mindset and attitude than it does with physical age. And that is true for all geneations.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:34:10 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@DDURBIN1: And if that's not depressing enough, have you seen this: "The Brutal Ageism of Tech."

In reseraching this piece, I fell down a rabbit hole in looking at laws in other countries related to ageism. The general consensus in the legal profession is that the U.S. has some of the best age discrimination laws in the world! No small consolation considering the examples you site, and the stories I hear anecdotally any day.

In my experience these issues are not exclusive to IT; I know folks of all job descriptions over 40 who have suffered career slumps or outright unemployment since 1999. Anecdotally specaking the economic upheaval of the early 2000s seems to have affected the over-40 population very dramaticlaly, despite the slightly more positive picture painted by the recent employment stats.

Do you think we'll see a turaround as the economy improves? Will experience every have value again in our tech economy?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
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7/7/2014 | 4:46:17 PM
Re: The ADEA field of dreams

The Supreme Court's IBM rulings on ADEA affect all industries.  The Supreme Court has given corporations a free ride to displace older workers whether a sales agent, marketing manager, purchasing buyer, or an engineer.  IT workers, however, are hit with a double whammy as technology changes every 5 years or less.  Most employers nowadays resist investing in IT employees making aging IT workers face out dated skills when shown the door.   Even if their skills are up to date, it is still hard for 40 plus IT workers (and other careers) to find a job regardless.  I believe one of the key reasons for this is self-insured healthcare coverage.   Most corporations have healthcare coverage that's self-insured where they pay healthcare bills out of their own pockets and the risk is spread only over the corporation's employee base, not spread over a nationwide health insurance company such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.   BCBS, Humana and others are just the paper shuffler for these corporations.   So I don't see things' improving for older workers until Congress puts more muscle in IDEA and solves the problem with corporations' efforts to reduce their healthcare cost risks by displacing and not hiring older workers.  I don't see either happening anytime soon as Congress and the Supreme Court have been more pro-business than pro-citizen for the past 30 years.

Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 5:54:04 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@DDURBIN1: Thanks for the additional information. Just to clarify: You are referring to ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)? My understanding is that IDEA is the acronym for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Please let me know if I'm missing another law that I should be paying attention to!

To add to your point, here's an interesting article from Bloomberg last month about a change in IBM's policies regarding employees over age 45 who are :

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-12/old-fired-at-ibm-trendsetter-offers-workers-arbitration.html

While the article focuses on IBM, it also includes some interesting stats overall (again, these are not specific to the tech sector but give us additional insight into the scope of age discrimination in the U.S):

Age-discrimination claims filed with the EEOC rose 29 percent to 21,396 in 2013 from 16,548 in 2006. The EEOC enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against an employee or a job applicant for a variety of reasons, including race, religion, and age if the person is over 40. The organization investigates discrimination claims, works to settle charges and has the authority to file a lawsuit.

And..

Workers in employment discrimination cases win against their employers about 21 percent of the time in arbitration cases, less than the 36 percent win rate in federal court, according to a Cornell University study that analyzed 1,213 arbitration cases from 2003 to 2007. These statistics didn't include cases that were settled, which is about 59 percent of arbitration cases and 70 percent for litigation.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
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7/7/2014 | 5:56:53 PM
Re: The ADEA field of dreams
Yep ADEA not IDEA of 1967 sorry about that typo.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 6:00:58 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@DDURBIN!: NP, thanks for clarifying. We could get another heated discussion going about IDEA-which also falls short according to parents i know. But that's a topic for another day. Thanks for all the info you're sharing, it's really an important topic and good to know the many extenuating factors we're facing.

I have to say since the 2000s, my own career has been less than linear, more like a series of peaks and valleys. Having also spent time working in the entertainment and marketing media I knew people who were getting botox on or before their 30th birthdays. One young woman I worked with then said "It's never too early to start!"

I wonder if these issues are uniquely American--is it because our culture is youth-obsessed in general? Do other cultures have more repsect for their elder employees?
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 2:37:43 AM
Wisdom comes with time
SusanN, 

 "Do other cultures have more repsect for their elder employees?" 

 
I immediately thought of Japan. Regretfully, I can't contribute with too much about the culture in Japan in this respect. But I believe it's widely known that they respect the wisdom that comes with age very much.
 
They even value old objects more, even if they are broken, instead of quickly discard them and replace them with a new one.
 
For this, I would believe that they probably respect their elder employees more. Maybe someone who has done business with Japanese companies know.
 
-Susan
 

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 6:42:57 PM
Re: Wisdom comes with time
@SusanF: It's a fair question, I don't know much about corporate culture in Japan, although I do wonder given that country's difficult economic times if views on older workers may have changed there as well. Unfortunately, i'm woefully uninformed about it and would love to hear from others in the community on this point.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 1:42:12 AM
Re: Wisdom comes with time
SusanN,

I used to know more about corporate culture in Japan, or at least, the knowledge was fresh. Now it has been dormant for many moons. However, I never knew for sure the age-earnings correlation and I never wondered about it until now that it was triggered by your article and a connection to some other things I recently read about Japan and gave me the idea that I should visit that part of the world one day.

I did a quick research now; it seems like when in a meeting in Japan the initial comments you make are always directed to the highest-ranking person in the room, to whom one always gives him/her due attention. 

The business culture in Japan values its elders for the wisdom and experience they bring to the company. The older the person, the more important he is. 

I found this corporate contrast between US and Japanese companies interesting. I can't find what we are looking for, though. :/ I will ask a couple of people I know who have been working in Japan; they might know. 

-SusanF 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:27:02 PM
Re: Wisdom comes with time
@SusanF: Thank you for doing the additional research on this topic. While it's not specific to age, I found this to be really interesting as a highlighted difference between our hetergeneous corporate culture in the U.S. and the more homogenous corporate culture of Japan:

Basically a Japanese company is organized by Japanese.  Almost everyone has same background to realize the situation so some of the understanding is in unspoken words. This is one of the important communication skills in Japan.

I think in the U.S. we all too often miss, or misunderstand, what is being communicated by what the author calls unspoken words. Subtlety is definitely not a strong suit in U.S. corporate culture!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 7:29:33 AM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@Susan, getting botox before 30 is a bit shocking but I guess in entertainment and marketing I can see where looking like a teenager at 30 would be seen as a benefit.  Years ago I had a handful of friends who all did pharmaceutical sales. They were all incredibly concerned with their appearance, more so than any other group of sales people I've ever met.  For them looking good was the difference between getting in the door to sell and sitting in a waiting room for hours being stalled until they gave up.  Luckily IT isn't an image based industry but there is a feeling that younger workers are more adept to changing technology and are "hungrier".  I think a bit of experience to balance those big thinkers out is a great idea.  Sometimes you need the voice of been there done that to guide the younger workers down the right path and to keep them focused on the goal.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 7:14:48 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@SaneIT: Yikes, let us be grateful we don't all work in pharmaceutical sales. Judgment based on physical appearance is definitely rampant in entertainment and marketing industries as well, hence the botox. I don't think the problem of ageism in IT is one that based on physical appearance so much as preconceived notions about attitude. I've also found that the less experienced a manager is, the more likely they are to hire someone who is like them. As the saying goes, like-hires-like. I connected a male friend with a job opportunity that I thought would be perfect for his skill set. However, despite the match on paper, he didn't look or act like any of the other people in that organization. I can't say for sure the issue was his age, and nobody would ever say that, such things are often glossed over as the person not being the right fit for a culture.

 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 7:06:20 AM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
"However, despite the match on paper, he didn't look or act like any of the other people in that organization."

 

Personality can be a very big factor when you have a tight knit work group.  I've been part of a group that got along very well and the core of the group shared many interests.  Other employees kind of floated around the edges and while we didn't shun them they didn't mesh as well as others and those that didn't mesh did tend to leave sooner than those who did mesh well.  When interviewing I try to assess personality because people here will eat someone alive if they are the tentative type. 

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:20:33 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@SaneIT: it's a tricky situation, because you'd like to make sure there's room for all personality types in any organization, that sort of diversity leads to better performance in my opinion. though the expectation in most businesses is that you need to be assertive to survive.

I'm reading a fantastic book called "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking." The book's author discusses how most businsses favor the extrovert and overlook the value of the introvert. Her research shows that an organiztion that can accommodate both personality types is stronger for it.

Here's a link to the author's site, where you'll also find a video of her TED Talk on the topic:

http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/15/2014 | 4:55:19 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@Susan, that's a really good point, the extroverts do tend to be the ones who get the push to the top but I've seen lower key individuals make it too.  I've run into issues with people calling me unapproachable or scary because I'm not an extrovert but people assume I am so they put personality traits to my actions that don't mesh.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:04:26 PM
Re: The IDEA field of dreams
@SaneIT: Yep, it's a real issue and the more I explore the topic the more intrigued I become at how these personality traits affect people's ability to collaborate in the workplace. The best case scenario has people of both types who understand and respect one other and can work in a way that is complementary instead of judgmental or combative.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
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7/7/2014 | 1:49:26 PM
Let them Know
Looking at your Table 1, I see regular increases in salary for IT staff until age 45 or so. After 45  ....  Flat. The problem is that, human nature being what it is college age people have (and want!) very little contact with us older folks. They don't realize, or believe, that they are going massively in debt and spending the best years of their life entering a career path that, for most of them, will lead to a dead end.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 2:46:24 PM
Re: Let them Know
@Gary_EL: That flattening of salaries is indeed disturbing, and of course it is based on a median. There are also variables such as region of the country that are not accounting for. Nonethelss, overall it's quite evident that there is a hard stop to one's earning potential in IT, and anyone who has incurred educational debt should be aware that the opportunities to earn do have their limits. I am ambivalent about these results. On the one hand, it depresses me that those over 45 don't appear to have any great opportunities for advancement. On the other hand, I can see where a company would need to create some baseline limits for salaries across an organizaiton, so perhaps those over 45 are just hitting the ceiling as far as earnings opportunites go in the field.

What interests me most about our salary survey results is the  number of people who have served in positions outside of IT, and I think that as we move to an increasingly digital business model, those who begin their careers in tech may have more oportunities than those who came before them to cross over to the business side of things. One CIO friend of mine was named VP of Sales at his organization when he was in his late 40s because of the work he'd done improving sales operations thru tech.
sferguson10001
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sferguson10001,
User Rank: Moderator
7/7/2014 | 3:23:47 PM
Re: Let them Know
@Susan: is there any sense from the readers, or the surveys that you write about, of people going to actually complain about this in a legal way? Do IT managers have conversations with the HR department about these issues? Do they try and bring a lawsuit against the employer when discriminated against? How hard is it to prove what people are saying?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 5:37:12 PM
Re: Let them Know
@sferguson1001: I'm not a lawyer, so I can only answer your questions anecdotally. Based on some of the other comments here and conversations I've had off hte record with people, age discrimination is extremely difficult to prove in court and even more difficult to win such cases. if harassment is added to the mix, it does become a bit easier as harassment laws are somewhat tougher. Even then, though, it can be expensive and painful for the claimant. The most egregious cases are often settled out of court because a company will want to avoid the bad PR of a lawsuit.

The more cut-and-dry one's situation is, the easier it is to handle. For example, let's say you are an IT employee aged 50something, and you have a 30something colleague who is constantly harassing you and making disparaging age-related comments, creating a hostile work environment. In that case, if you have an enlightened manager and HR dept, you can file a complaint and be protected by anti-harassment laws.

However, what I'm seeing and hearing about is more of a systemic ageism that pervades the entire tech culture, and that is something that is extremely difficult to prove in court.

 

 
BigUglyMike
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BigUglyMike,
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7/7/2014 | 2:17:20 PM
Age discrimination DOES exist
First I am an old timer in programming having started with Assembler under DOS-360 in 1969. Since then I have worked hard at staying current with systems and languages and even earning an MS-IS from Penn State in 1999.

I was working for Shared Medical Systems programming on IBM 'Z' and AS-400 systems along with C on some UNIX system when we were bought by Siemens. I was laid off in October 2001, just 3 weeks shy of my 55th birthday, along with 95 other folks - mostly male and almost all over 45. The '95' is important because by being under 100, federal and state reports are not required.

For the next several years I stayed busy doing contract work and teaching programming as an adjunct at both 4 year and community colleges.


In 2007, at age 60, is was hired by the local transit agency. They were in need of someone what had VAX, UNIX and Windows experience - all of which I posses. A new co-worker who was 58 informed me that at my age I will NEVER get a promotion which has proven to be true. Many young folks with both less education and experience have been promoted above me. My only downfall has been age.

Soon it will not be relavant as I plan to retire in a couple of months when I turn 68.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 5:25:27 PM
Re: Age discrimination DOES exist
@BigUglyMike: Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I'm sorry you had to go through that, and based on what I hear you are definitely NOT alone in what you went through in the latter part of your career. Major kudos to you for not letting it keep you down, and for staying busy and current even during the period after your layoff. I was unaware of that rule about layoffs of over 100 people, good to know.

What advice do you have for others in our community who are in a similar situation in their careers?
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
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7/7/2014 | 11:13:44 PM
Re: Age discrimination DOES exist
I think that there are still some mainframe and older technology skills that some organizations still need - but sure, the promotion thing is a bit confounding. I guess that's just part of some organzational culture - some comapnies don't feel the need to promote. It's really hard to explain just why that might be. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 1:54:16 PM
Re: Age discrimination DOES exist
@danielcawrey: There's plenty of speculation we can make about why folks in IT hit this earnings plateau after they reach a certain age, and no way to truly prove any of the theories. One thing we also have to consider is that not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder. For some, I imagine, they're happy with the career point they have reached and are ok with being there regardless of their age.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 5:38:29 PM
Re: There's always
@Rich: Yeah, but it's freakin cold in Russia!

:)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 7:28:40 PM
Re: There's always
@Rich: We'd love to add a few more, except it's illegal to employ 12-year-olds in the U.S. right now.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 7:44:33 PM
Re: There's always
@Rich, no need to rag on my colleagues here. let's keep the discussion focused on useful info, ok? 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 7:55:38 PM
Know the Law
If you're interested in hearing more from an attorney on this topic, please check out our archived radio show "Age Discrimination in IT: Know the Law," featuring employment attorney Monrae L. English. 

Extremely useful information during the audio session and the text chat. She says:

The cases that make it to court have to do with the firing process...
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 10:58:28 PM
Re: Know the Law

The cases that make it to court have to do with the firing process...

 

Interesting Susan that this issue goes to court at that time, but also understandable because when it happens before employment it is much more difficult to prove and the offended still needs to find work. 

Once again, violating companies saved by the reality of need.

Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:33:38 PM
Re: Know the Law
@Technocrati: Anyone who brings a lawsuit against their employer has to consider very carefully the impact it might have on their future employment prospects. It takes great courage to stand up and fight discrimination at the risk of harming one's own long term potential.

I suspect that a great many people put up with discrimination and harassment until they can find a new job rather than taking legal action simply out of fear.

Likewise, lawsuits can harm the innocent. A former colleague of mine was named in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former employee of that company, and the allegations against him were appalling and untrue. In the U.S., you can pretty much say anything in a lawsuit and it becomes a matter of public record. So my former colleague's name was all over the Internet as being accused of doing these awful things that he did not do.

Ultimately, a judge dismissed him by name from the law suit, and eventually the whole suite was thrown out.

But the news that his name was cleared never made it to the top of Google searches, so anytime he looked for a job the first 3 pages of Google talked about the horrible accusations. It took him about 3 years to find new fulltime emplyment.

 

 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2014 | 10:27:51 PM
Re: Know the Law

@S,N,     Thank you for passing on that unbelievable ( believable ) account of what happened to a colleague of yours.    I had not even considered the implications that you mention, and it is sombering to think an allegation like this before even decided by a impartial third party would get out to the Net.  

 

That is really frightening.  I certainly feel for him and I am glad he was able to get back to his career.  It reminds me of the time I  once had a boss  who I was on friendly terms with, one day just out of the blue as we sat at our workstations talking, he just decide to drop my name in Google search to see what would come up.   Thankfully nothing did, but it is the fact that it is just that easy to have your entire career ruined over an plain lie.

Google needs to expand their efforts in this regard, they have lost in Europe over this I believe and it is high time this industry's leading search engine bear some responsibility ( especially in terms of Libel ) for the results it posts.

And I agree with your points about the reasons someone does or does not sue.  Word gets around quickly and if you are in a small industry, it could mean moving on.  A personal choice for each individual of course,  I have been faced with it a few times and I have been forced to be a pragmatist about the entire situation - in order to fight another day.

Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:02:31 PM
Re: Know the Law
@Technocrati: It is a sobering reminder of how little control we really have when it comes to our own public profiles online. While it's also always been an issue that media will make headlines out of a lawsuit and then put the actual verdict way in the back in a tiny article, the amount of damage that can do to someone's reputation is just orders of magnitude greater.

I'm glad Europe is taking a stand...and I'm glad your boss's Google search of your name turned out to be worry free.

:)
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 8:00:41 PM
Re: There's always
@rich: I'm flattered that you see us as youthful. I won't reveal my colleagues ages, they're welcome to do that on their own if they want. I assure you that I am well within the age range allegedly protected under ADEA. 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 1:36:05 PM
Re: There's always
I'm confused who @Rich is you are responding to?  Did they pull his comments or something?

One comment about your link of Y2K layoffs and age. That was a time of a huge shift in tech skills, probably the biggest I've seen in my career that started in 1985. Windows, internet and browser applications were changing the game from the green screen midrange/mainframe programming done before that. IT people who did not retool, and I saw many in my travels, were toast. Any older company who made transition to system based on the web technologies, or just Windows development, probably were laying off a lot of IT people older than 40. But not just because of age.

Right or wrong, it makes sense older people coming to new company for technical reasons are not likely to be seen as long term mgmt material. They are too close to retirement to be considered that way.

I'm 56 now. As good as I am in this field (technically), why would anyone want to mess with someone like me so close to being done? I don't see that as age discrimination, just a practical HR decision. Every new job involves learning the business and usually new environment. Makes sense to go thru that with someone who can stick around 20-30 years, not 10 until they retire.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 7:04:15 PM
Re: There's always
@TerryB: apologies if I have confused you. I rarely "police" the chat around my articles however there were some comments being made that didn't do anything to advance the overall discussion here and so I made the decision to remove them. @Rich and I discussed it offline and rest assured we're still friends.

:)

To your greater points, I admire your spirit and you're probably applying the logic that corporations apply in general toward persons-of-a-certain-age. I see it as a slippery slope, though. What age becomes too close to retirement?

In your case, I'd say 10 years is a good long time, why not promote you? How much could others in your organziation learn from you in the years that you choose to continue working? And how do we know when anyone is really close to being done?

I, for one, expect to be working well into my 80s, given the state of my 401K and our national social security outlook...

 
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 7:21:24 PM
Re: There's always

@TerryB     I see your point and congratulations  that you can even consider retirement, but for most - they will be working until their dying day and that is why the issue of Age discrimination is more important than ever. 

TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 10:33:24 AM
Re: There's always
I think the 800 lb gorilla here is whether age in IT causes a decline in performance. Can older IT workers keep up with similarly skilled 30 year olds?

IT is not football, no physical requirements, but here is an analogy which makes my point. I live in Green Bay now and not that long ago they dumped "old" Brett Favre for young Aaron Rodgers. Wasn't that really age discrimination also? The difference is that you can measure the decline in performance much easier in football. IT performance is a very difficult thing to quantify, especially when comparing IT people.

So you can see HR's logic when they have to choose between two IT people with similar skills, why not take younger one, they should have more energy and longevity. Hard to say they are wrong.

As older IT worker, you have to be pragmatic. I have cousin who works for Microsoft. 10-15 years ago, he was always trying to talk me into joining MS, even though I'm an ERP guy who has always worked with IBM servers. Back then, MS would have no concerns retraining me to whatever they wanted me to do for them. Now at 56, that would make absolutely no sense whatsoever. And that would not be age discrimination on MS part, just common sense.

I made sure when I picked this company I'm at now (12 years ago) that they were financially viable to get me to retirement. I knew I would become less and less employable as I reached and crossed 50. Right or wrong, it is a fact of life we have to deal with and I don't expect laws from government can ever fix it.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:08:26 PM
Re: There's always
@TarryB: I give you credit for being able to view this in such a logical way. Your sport analogy is apt, as it would be for any job that requires a level of physical prowess. However, I'm not sure the same is true for jobs that involve knowledge and intellect. If it were the case, then we might be able to also argue that someone who is physically handicapped at any age can't perform as well as someone who is physically well, even if their mental capabilities are equal.

I have trouble separating my emotional response from the facts of running a business, and so my tendency would be to shout: But of course someone at age 56 deserves the same retraining opportunities as someone aged 36!!

It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

One other factor to consider here: Typically as a persona ages, the amount of personal responsibility they have increases. They're often caring for children, caring for aging parents, owning a home, etc.

And so, I wonder, is the question about energy of young versus old not so much a matter of older folks not being able to keep up with young energy, but rather a matter of mounting family obligations that make it impossible to have the 24/7 focus on a job that someone in their 20s or 30s offer simply becuase their life is less complicated?

 
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/7/2014 | 10:59:29 PM
Raise
Have a conversation with your manager before you make a change. Employees sometimes don't see the value in their own work and think the only way to get an increase in pay is to look elsewhere

 A few years back, I was responsible of the IT operations of a non-profit. I thought I wasn't getting a good pay and I looked elsewhere. Worse mistake I've ever made.

Having a talk with director for a raise, it'd have been the right course of action.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 6:26:22 PM
Re: Raise
@mak63: Sorry to hear that you regret the decision. Looking back, what would you say was the obstacle that prevented you from approaching your director about a raise before moving elsewhere?
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 6:21:44 PM
Re: Raise
@Susan

Looking back, I'd say it was all on me. I closed the door to even talk about a raise without even know what the director's response would be. You can call it lack of courage and a clear vision what the future will be like without this job.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 1:56:23 PM
Re: Raise
@mak63: your experience mirrors my own, that's why I was curious. I did the same thing: Jumped ship for a salary increase instead of talking to my boss about it first. And I ended up landing at a job that made me miserable until I was able to get out. Lesson learned, for sure. And I've since taken assertiveness and negotiation training to help me in the future next time I'm faced with making a career/salary move.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 2:17:07 AM
Re: Too Old To Earn BIg In IT
Wow, what a lively conversation - and it's a good thing too, because this is an important topic. Many of the stories and information you guys have shared has confirmed something my gut had already guessed - discrimination laws in the US are woefully inadequate, and the truth is it's a systemic problem that needs to be reworked from the ground up (but probably won't). That story about IBM (and even the followup Susan posted) makes me sick to my stomach. It shows just how broken the system - you can get away with breaking the law, as long as you publicly acknowledge it (!!?!?!), except when you don't, and then it's still okay.

To be honest, the whole idea of the ADEA (based on the wording on the this web page) seems a little misguided to begin with. I totally get the idea of it only applying in one direction, but it seems a little contrary to the goal. Doesn't putting people over 40 in a group by themselves already invite different treatment and problems? And the suggestion that someone who's 50 is not protected as long as he's being discriminated against for someone who's 60 seems like a terrible idea - companies can get away with anything as long as they have loopholes to work with. Not to mention, as we see from DDURBIN1's comments, there are apparently more than just the ones listed here.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 6:53:03 PM
Re: Too Old To Earn BIg In IT
@zerox203: The loopholes in the laws do seem quite glaring, and some countries do not limit their age discrimination laws to those over age 40. In general, what I'm seeing is that while we are all agreeing that age discrimination is very real in the workplace, it's rarely cut and dry enough to make it an easy case to prove. And now that we have a Supreme Court eager to recognize corporations as "people" I'm rather alarmed thinking about what the future will hold.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 8:04:24 PM
Re: Too Old To Earn BIg In IT
These cases are extremely hard to prove - it used to be that if your company got rid of someone older than 50 and replaced them with someone younger it was presumed to be an age thing.  Now, since older folks typically are higher on the pay scale, the company can claim they are cost-cutting.

So these days, the discrimination has to be flagrant and overt.  Most people, not all, but most, aren't that stupid to say or write those things where it can come back and bite them.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 2:11:10 PM
Re: Too Old To Earn BIg In IT
@vnewman2: True. Increased awareness of the issue cuts both ways. And older workers tend to not only have higher salary bases, they also tend to have more vacation time available to them, and may possibly be more of a burden on the employee healthcare plan, all of which are technically illegal reasons to dismiss someone but are probably taken into consideration when it's time for a company to do cost-cutting layoffs.

Not that anyone would ever admit to this, of course...and it's virtually impossible to prove, since most companies are careful to include enough people from all groups that they can't be subject to a class action suit.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Strategist
7/12/2014 | 2:38:04 AM
The age ceiling

 

Susan you raise an interesting point regarding the natural career trajectory. I would love to compare the stats you provided with other functional areas in an organization, I suspect the results might appear similar. Ageism, is not exclusive to IT but has become part of the corporate culture for many organizations that career path employees to a certain age and then let them remain in that role or release them. I have known many associates who have seen their careers plateau at mid-forties age group and they are in many divergent functional areas. There seems to be that age ceiling where only lateral moves are available that no one wants to discuss.

SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:12:30 PM
Re: The age ceiling
@impactnow:  Some people have all the luck. This plateau you are talking about exists in the Silicon Valley and adjacent areas. But in other countries we see many benefits offered to the employee like increased retirement age, health benefits and right to sick leave. Do you think the same format of employee employer relationship must be adopted by Silicon Valley companies?
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Moderator
7/24/2014 | 1:43:43 PM
No retirees makes it hard to get promotions
One thing to consider in pay raise slow down is that the typical "big" raises come with promotions. And with the economic slowdown many baby boomers aren't retiring, so the 40 something's can't move up, resulting in a celing for promotions. I know of a manager that actually told one of their IT employees he might be able to get a pormotion after someone died, becasue no one was retiring.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:06:39 PM
Re: No retirees makes it hard to get promotions
@kstaron: That's grim. I hadn't considered that angle, and it defeinitely helps explain the pay plateau. So  many people of near retirement age had their investments hammered in the last recesssion. I have a friend in her 60s who says things are so bad, she is going to have to work from beyond the grave...
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2014 | 5:11:05 PM
Ageism in IT
This is a very serious problem for those IT staff that has to rely on a number of qualifications to be eligible for a high paying job as an IT staff. They qualify at around the age of 26 to 27 (with at least 2 years of work experience) and their salary median thins out just after the peak at 44 years, which is gravely unsatisfactory. Mark Zuckerberg earlier said that he prefers young coders as opposed to experienced programmers which makes us think that middle aged people with experience have no value in the IT industry, which is not the case. Skills increase with age and experience, and if there are regular exams conducted for such IT staff (around 40 years or older) to prove that they are above the IT staff of 25 years of age, then this problem won?t exist.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/1/2014 | 2:08:31 PM
Re: Ageism in IT
@SunitaTO: "If there are regular exams conducted for such IT staff (around 40 years or older) to prove that they are above the IT staff of 25 years of age, then this problem won?t exist."

This is an outsanding idea and truly would bring us back to remembering that business should function as a meritocracy, not some corporate version of Lord of the Flies.
ANON1242332365108
IW Pick
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ANON1242332365108,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/4/2014 | 10:38:53 AM
Age Discrimination?....You BET there is!!!
With all due respect, it is scenarios such as I am about to elaborate upon, that - in my humble opinion - is at the root of the problem.

In reference to a recent phone interview with an "IT Recruiter from a Top-Tier NYC-based Financial Firm", not only did this young lady state during the interview that I'd be "an expensive hire" (her precise and exact words) due to the breadth and depth of my responsibilities, she added insult to injury, expressing that she couldn't – and I repeat – SHE ..COULDN'T .."Google"... half the companies I worked for.

My point?

When your resume is being read by individuals whose career
basically began
whilst the individual the resume represents was
15 to 25 years into it,how - in good conscience - can a
"seasoned and experienced" (50+ yrs old) IT Professional
hope to get his/her foot back in the door?

Keep in mind, that, during the dot-com bust, 9/11, and the recent Recession, a significant majority of IT Professionals who were affected were close to 20 years into their careers, while those who are now reading their Resumes were either just clearing High School, or at the least, graduating from College.

Furthermore, the "sham" that has been perpretrated over the years to "re-tool" or - as the underlying phrase is expressed -"dumb-down" your Resume, such that you don't "intimidate" those who are reading it, goes back to my earlier point.

Here's the worst:

As a Veteran (USAF), I've notiiced when you file an application via ATS, and one of the options about "Military Service" indicates "Other Protected Veteran"; that field "relays" the following:

You were most likely NOT a Veteran from the present Conflict..
(avg. age 24-39, +/- 4 yrs), but,

You were most likely a Vietnam Veteran (disabled or not)
(avg. age 54-63, +/- 6 yrs)

With measures of this scope beiing exercised as of late, you begin to wonder why the ratio of "employed" to "unemployed" exists as it does for IT Pros that are 50+ .
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
8/21/2014 | 9:26:51 PM
Re: Age Discrimination?....You BET there is!!!
@ANON: I'm sorry for your experiences, what you went through is similar to stories I have heard from other workers "of a certain age."

I had a recruiter awhile back who was talking to me about a position for which my experiences and skills ticked all the right boxes but also made me "pricey"--truly astonishing to be told such a thing after you've invested so much in building your career and creating that valuable experience.

Did not know about the military service catch--that's pretty egregious as well.

the other missing bit in the stats is that they don't really account for those who have decided to leave the workforce. I would wager that many people 50+ just give up and either try to cobble together their own freelance/consulting gigs or are forced into retiring before they're ready. that's hard to prove, but anecdotally I've a feeling those numbers are fairly large.

 


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