On Monday mornings, my dad doesn’t go to work. He checks his inbox for an email that never comes, writes resumes for recruiters that don’t give a second glance, and exercises his body and mind for an obligation he doesn’t have. He was swept up in Intel’s mass lay-off this June not because he under performed, but because of his age.
Data from The Oregonian shows Intel employees aged 40+ faced a two and a half times increased risk of being laid off than their younger peers. To add insult to injury, prospective employers are often reluctant to hire those who have been laid off and older workers as a result of preexisting negative stereotypes (Rogoway, 2016.)
Silicon Valley is known to be “one of the most ageist places in America,” (Guynn, 2016.) Many companies who claim to be EEO employers — Adobe, Apple, Google, and Qualcomm to name a few — don’t list age under their protected groups and/or within their diversity statistics. “New-grad” has become a commonly used search term with respect to job listings and numerous Silicon Valley CEO’s have voiced the sentiment that older workers are inferior (Wuerthele, 2016.) Meanwhile, Google and Hewlett-Packard (HP) both face lawsuits citing age discrimination within their hiring practices (Baron, 2016.) The consensus is that creativity is subject to entropy and, as a crafter, I’ve never been so offended.
My earliest memory of my dad’s DIY projects is of him assembling a motherboard over the dining table for his desktop. He spent the entire afternoon toiling away with my brother before placing the monstrous box into the cabinet where it would serve as a desktop computer for the next seven years. I never understood how or why he did it let alone how computers could ever possibly achieve deep learning in my lifetime. Yet, somehow, my dad was convinced even then that computers would be able to think and speak like human beings one day. Age doesn’t hamper creativity any more than it hampers taxes.
To continue, age is a record of experience: of failures and triumphs, problems and solutions, confusion and understanding. How can one contribute new experiences without experiences of their own? It’s no wonder that internships fill a substantial role in higher education; progress can only be sought out in the classroom, but in the field it’s made.
On another note, technology executives who favor younger employees overlook the fact that an exclusively young workforce would require far more extensive training. That doesn’t count the real-world skills, connections within the company, and seasoning necessary to successfully complete one’s job. My dad used to joke that the new hires at Intel needed a PowerPoint presentation on using the bathroom because they were so new to everything. It’s a matter of prudence to invest in tenured professionals because they understand client needs and wants better than anyone having lived through the inception, not just the climax, of the very companies who reject them. Additionally, the consequences of ageism are far greater than missing out on a few corporate discounts.
“Looking for a job is almost like a full-time job in itself,” I remember the career transition consultant telling my dad. A portion of those who are unemployed are those who lost their job and gave up on finding another, he continued. What if dad gave up? He always wanted to retire early. He would just be another statistic. I stared at my dad trying to detect some weakness in his form, some predisposition that he would head down that path. Of course, I found none but the question still lingered in my head.
Meanwhile, my mum has forfeited her voice in the workplace out of fear of losing her job. Better one unemployed parent than two. At one point, she almost had the opportunity to transfer out of her current department, but the new management position was not stable. That didn’t mean she wasn’t upset when the director of the Emergency Department stepped down to be replaced by the manager. My dad calmly reminded her that she chose not to take the job. She reminded him that she did not take it because she would not be able to quit, if she disliked the job, since he lost his.
There are already more than enough stigmas and stereotypes blocking Americans from achieving unity without Fortune 500 executives adding to the cesspool. We can’t allow this to continue happening for the sake of my dad and the thousands of other displaced workers like him. Spread the word, lovelies, let’s burn the technology world together!