The above link will take you to an article I found quite interesting on balance. I liked it because it bravely attempted to get the discussion going on an emotive and difficult subject. Do I agree with it? In portions, yes. However, I find myself also rising to challenge some of what it is conveying, as well as wanting to include a few missing pieces.
Ageism is a nebulous, thorny “thing”, but it also has some hidden sides to it that rarely bubble-up in most conversations on the topic. Yes, it is tacitly implied there is some sort of age range fence that it is bad to on the high side of. That is just one view of things, there is a flip-side to that. An alternate view might be that despite having the appropriate experience and skills, relative or perceived “youth” counted against someone when being considered for roles, promotions, etc.
I doubt this article or my blog is going to challenge enough minds to question their perception of this area. What I can do though is throw a few things out there to try and get people thinking a bit more about both sides of the equation. For instance :
- An older person will often stake a claim to greater experience based on having done a thing before
<< the flip side >>
Is that experience still relevant? Does that make them more rigid in their thinking, do they understand changed landscapes in terms of market trends, competitive pressures, technological shifts, channel impacts?
- A younger person might claim they are being unfairly overlooked for team lead and managerial roles
<< the flip side >>
Have they garnered enough mastery of the softer skills, will they create stability and stick around? Educational achievement and being good at a technical role aren’t always the greatest indicators of such things.
[ N.B. My terms “older” and “younger” are relative only, my apologies if anyone feels slighted ]
The theory goes that most organisations are in business for a reason. Nearly always that is about creating, maximising and maintaining value by capitalising on prevailing market conditions in the pursuit of profit. Shouldn’t that really also mean consistently selecting those people that have the abilities to make that happen regardless of age perceptions?
Theory and reality, never the twain will meet…well, who knows :-)
Has ageism affected you?
Were you under or over what you consider the age fence?
Please take a moment to share your experiene for the benefit of all – thank you!
- InformationWeek’s Community of IT Professionals Debate Ageism in the Technology Industry (virtual-strategy.com)
- What ‘The Old Guy’ Brings To IT Teams (informationweek.com)
- Employers ‘scared’ of managing over 50s (keyrs.co.uk)
- A Workplace Counters Ageism – National Institutes of Health (asourparentsage.net)