Older People in Technology5 min read
October has arrived, and everyone is excited for pumpkins, Halloween, and all things scary. For many older people, however, zombies and vampires don’t match up to some of the scary things they encounter every day. The advent of new technology and its pervasiveness in everyday life can be daunting for those who weren’t raised with it. Or is it? Because October is also “Computer Learning Month” we wanted to highlight some of the awesome things being done by older people in the tech sphere. However, there are specific challenges that older people face in the tech industry. This week, we’ll look at the positives and the negatives facing the elderly in technology.
Positives: It Can Be Done
Everyone has seen a television show or a movie in which an older person is made to be the butt of a joke because they don’t understand technology. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of older people learning about, working in, and shaping the tech industry. The New York Times published an article about older people in the tech industry called “Some People Learn to Code in Their 60s, 70s, or 80s.” They found that around 1 million of the 45 million users on Codeacademy, a popular website used to teach coding, were 55 or older. That’s 1 million people who arguably know more about computer usage than the average young person, and that number is growing. When you realize that most people 55 or older are either in a stable career already or happily retired, that number is actually quite astonishing. One of the people interviewed in the article claimed her new skills landed her a job she loves at the young age of 60. Now that’s impressive. It also proves that technology and the industry around it is not lost on the older generation like movies and television would have people believe.
Negatives: It Can be Hard
Unfortunately, there are many who still believe that tech is an industry built only for the young, and it shows in the hiring patterns of many tech companies. All anyone needs to do is quickly search “older people in tech” on Google to find that there is plenty of discrimination against them. One very blunt article from The Observer is actually titled, “When It Comes to Age Bias, Tech Companies Don’t Even Bother to Lie.” The writer reported that one industry leader even stated in a published interview that he prefers to hire young people. This is clearly a violation of age discrimination laws, and no one seems to be bothered. It’s unclear whether this is due to the smaller numbers of older people entering tech jobs, the pervasive notion that older people are incapable of understanding technology, or a mixture of the two. However, the outlook for older people in technology is less than shining.
Tell us your experiences. How do you feel about the landscape of older people entering tech fields? Leave us a comment and let us know!