Report: Ageism in the Tech Industry

In many cultures, elders are held in high regard as a source of wisdom.

In the world of tech, it often seems—not so much.

These days, you don’t have to look far to find news stories about lawsuits, age bias, declining salaries after a certain age or other takes on this persistent problem. What was once tech’s “elephant in the room” is still the elephant in the room—but it’s making a lot more noise.

But while stories about anxious tech workers in their 30s getting plastic surgery to conceal their age make good headlines, we don’t need to look to such extremes to find evidence of the problem. It’s there in the cliched but widespread perception that employees need to be young to have a good grasp of the latest technology. And it’s there in startup cultures that push for long hours and low pay, which are hardly friendly to older workers with families. And as firms battle to attract young talent with ever more extravagant perks, they can unintentionally create an environment and culture that excludes older workers.

But just how widespread is the problem? And how concerned are tech workers about it? Indeed recently conducted a study of 1,011 currently employed U.S. tech workers in the U.S. to dig deeper into the issue, and explore potential solutions. Here’s what we found.

Millennials close to constituting a majority of the tech workforce

In the popular imagination, the typical tech worker is young, energetic and hungry. But are they as young as the ping pong-playing, jeans and sneakers-wearing cliche suggests?

In fact, 29% of our survey respondents say the average employee age at their company is between 31 and 35. Millennials, yes—albeit at the older end of that demographic. A further 17% say that their company’s average is between 20 and 30.

By contrast, 3 in 10 (27%) respondents say that the average age of employees at their company is 36-40 years old, making them members of the younger end of Generation X. The over 40s (Gen X and Boomers alike) have to share the remaining 26%.

In other words, close to half of employees (46%) are Millennials. And yet, only 23% of survey respondents think that this demographic is overrepresented at their workplaces. By contrast, under a fifth (18%) respondents feel that Baby Boomer (1946-65) generation is underrepresented at their company.

Not enough Boomers? The attitude of many seems to be “no problem.”

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that that 25% of workers should be 55 and over by 2019, it’s clear that these numbers don’t reflect the diversity of the population when it comes to age.

43% of employees worry about losing their job due to their age

Not only do employees witness an imbalance in age representation, but it is also causing anxiety among some workers.

Our survey of tech workers found that close to half of respondents (43%) worry about losing their job because of their age. Even more troubling, nearly one 5th (18%) say they worry about it “all the time.”

More than one-third of workers surveyed (36%) report experiencing at least one instance during which…

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