I follow quite a few developers and tech people on Twitter, many of whom champion the causes of inclusion, diversity, and representation when it comes to gender, sexuality, race, and disabilities in Tech. But I don’t often hear or see much discussion around the subject of age in Tech, especially when it comes to “older” workers from the Baby Boomers and Gen X generations. I became curious as to why worker age seems to take a back seat to the other, more prominent, categories.
Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article by Patrica Cohen on age bias across all of working America and the challenges older workers face in finding employment or bouncing back from job loss: https://nyti.ms/31eZlQa. The challenges and biases for older workers who are unemployed are many and discouraging. After reading the article, and the resulting comments, one might agree that ageism is, as one commenter puts it, “...at or near the top of our current social issues, and near the bottom of our remediation efforts.”
As someone who surely meets the definition of the “older worker,” the issue of ageism in development and tech is one of particular interest to me, just over a year into my web development career as of last month. As improbable as it might seem to me, I am now closer to retirement than I am to college graduation back in the early 90's. I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon though. I came to development later than most, but younger than some, and I absolutely love it. It feeds and nourishes the analytical and creative parts of myself at the same time. Hell, this may actually be what I want to do when I grow up! I hope I get that chance, ‘cause I'm not getting any younger.
So with all that said, I'm curious to know thoughts and feedback on how age is considered when it comes to the discussion around diversity & inclusion in the Tech field/industry. Is age its own category for the discussion? Or is it a modifier for the other categories? Or is it simply outweighed entirely due to the heightened sensitivity of those other categories? Does the "older" voice have a chance to speak in the discussion around diversity & inclusion? Can Boomers and Gen X-ers be included in the “underrepresented” moniker if they are considered “too old” to be of value to Tech, regardless of other characteristics?
I know there’s no easy answers for these questions. I certainly don’t have any. I do know that I believe in the cause of diversity and inclusion in all walks of life, but I am unsure if the seasoned, experienced, or older worker is part of that cause and can only be included in the discussion if the worker falls into other underrepresented categories of gender, sexuality, race, or disability. Or am I off base in my curiosity and have missed part of the discussion. What do you think?