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Ageism in Silicon Valley – worse than we thought if this is progress?

by on March 14, 2016

We’ve blogged before on ageist attitudes to older workers in Silicon Valley and the tech industry more generally (for example, on ageism and lookism and on how age diversity might be achieved). In the latter we noted the issue of the limited diversity data released by tech companies with regard to age.

So it’s interesting to see this piece in the Huffington Post with the optomistic title “Finally, A Tech Company Ready To Tackle Ageism”. The reason behind the article seems to be the decision by the software company in question – Atlassian – to release data giving the age breakdown of its staff. This was reported here in a piece which also explains the organization’s wider views on the value of diversity – not just in relation to age – as well as details of the training and programmes it provides to foster an inclusive culture.

With regard to age, though, the headline figures make sobering reading for those of us working outside the tech industry and thus perhaps not used to the age norms that operate there. The Huffington Post reports that of Atlassian’s 1,500 employees, “13% are in their 40s and 2% are in their 50s. Nearly every team at least one person 40 or older.” I don’t want to knock the efforts at Atlassian. And maybe it’s just very early days in tems of the initiatives they’ve introduced. And maybe things are worse in Silicon Valley than I realised. But these still seem to be very modest numbers of ‘older workers’. And unless this issue is tackled, then an ageist culture will affect workers in the tech industry of all ages – where do those currently in their 20s and 30s think that they’ll be working in 10 or 20 years time?

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