Meanwhile, all the dinosaurs are at IBM.
Google has been hit with a class-action lawsuit accusing the ad giant of discriminating against older employees. The Northern California District Court has certified [PDF] the case brought against the Chocolate Factory, allowing aggrieved applicants aged 40 and older to join together in filing a single suit. By certifying the …
"Meanwhile, all the dinosaurs are at IBM."
Yes, and coming up with stuff like Watson thats a damn site more technically impressive than any polar necked beared hipsters at more trendy corps or startups are managing. Even Googles AI technical abilities seem to have floundered producing a self driving car that even Mickey Mouse would be embarrased to be seen in.
I think the article says quite clearly they have not been found guilty of doing anything illegal.
However, I would argue that interviewing every engineer candidate on red-black trees and topcoder-style algorithms, without asking a single question about past experience, is probably sufficient to skew the age of the hiring. They barely ask design questions.
I don't think they offer a lot of senior positions, either. Unless you're a known rock star in your field, you start as coding peon, no matter your age. That also discourages experimented people.
"I think the article says quite clearly they have not been found guilty of doing anything illegal."
I'm a bit torn on this even if they had. On the one hand I'm middle aged now and probably have already or soon will lose out on a job to some younger guy simply due to age. OTOH I know perfectly well that when I was a baby coder fresh out of uni I was only hired because I was young and hence cheap plus I could be trained up in the Way Of The Company more easily that an older guy who'd be more set in his ways. So I suppose what goes around...
As well as having some of us older types on the staff, the investors need to talk to them and listen to what they say.
A lot of what we see is happening because investors become convinced some mad scheme is plausible, and then it's merely a case of assembling the right team to get it done ASAP before anyone else. And because the older more experienced staff are sucking their teeth muttering about how hard this is going to be, they’re off message and 'a barrier to progress'. Bye bye.
And so the team is reduced in experience until there's only youngsters left who don't know any better; they're all yes men/boys (another of Si Valley's problems is a gender bias...), and they'll recruit only those who are also on-message.
Look at Google's self driving car project. According to CA's published test results it's way off being reality, and probably won't ever happen. It's unsurprising that there's reports of discord in the (exclusively young?) team - they've just been taught a lesson by mother nature and they have no idea what to do next. Yet anyone who's ever read or studied anything at all about safety critical systems, machine vision and cognition could tell you that a self-driver is going to be really, really hard, probably impossible, don't waste your money.
So if your an investor, if your engineering team doesn't have grey haired / no haired / grey bearded staff members, worry about whether you'll see a return. They've either decided to quit before its too late, or are being kept out of the project for being off-message. A single 'no it won't work' from an engineer who knows their stuff could save you billions, and they can't say that if they're not there. No amount of positivity from an exciting bunch of youngsters is going to fool mother nature.
I think there's a few more, they are just really small minorities that no one has heard about, thus are safe to discriminate against. I fall into a few of those, which is why I'm currently unemployed and poor, despite being very talented and experienced. Oh, and I'm on the wrong side of 50 as well.
On the plus side, I'm now old enough that Google headhunters no longer call me.
There's a photo of the editorial board of The Huffington Post going the rounds. It shows a large table staffed entirely with white women (and one asian woman), each of them with a MacBook Air.
But of course they don't need to be taught about diversity because, being white, they're smart enough to screen out any impure thoughts.
Simple recruitment checklist:
* The candidate must be exactly 30. Older than this means he is past it and will probably retire in the next ten minutes or so. Less than this means he is too wet behind the ears and clearly won't know what he is doing. Even if his 30th birthday is in three weeks, or his 31st birthday was only a month ago.
* He will have finished your degree at 22, so he should therefore have exactly 8 years of experience. Less than this is not enough for any job ever. More than this either means no degree (so automatically unqualified for literally anything aside from feeding the chickens) or everything he has ever learned is obsolete due to his extremely advanced age.
* He must have shipped at least 3 commercial products, from design through to post-production support. Given the 8 years experience requirement, that means every project must last no longer than 2 1/2 years. Anything which takes longer than this, regardless of scale, is therefore wasted time, and so sensible people produce only useless smartphone apps with titles like 'Find My Pig'.
* Staying at any workplace longer than 3 years is evidence that the candidate is unambitious and lazy, presumably just drifting from paycheck to paycheck.
* Staying at any workplace for less than 18 months is evidence that he is feckless, incompetent, flaky and probably a criminal.
* All certifications are good, have identical implications, and can be obtained at any point in your life without any regard for the requirements they list. For example, asking an entry-level junior network engineer if he has a CISSP is fine. Putting forward a candidate for Senior Linux Network Architect based on his MCP in Windows Vista is also fine. Always ask for PRINCE2 for literally everything; every job in the whole world benefits from PRINCE2 certification. You're doing great, no-one suspects you know nothing about technology and only became a recruitment consultant because your English Lit degree left you completely ill-equipped for the modern workplace.
* All this computer crap is exactly the same. There's no difference between a programmer and a hardware engineer; they're all nerds, right? And nerds are good with computers, so they can do any job involving a computer. Java developers love being offered 50 helpdesk positions a day. Systems engineers are basically the same thing as DBAs, there's lots of crossover. Your candidates will love you for the variety of job adverts you are throwing their way, and the workplaces offering the jobs clearly prefer being swamped by huge numbers of manifestly unqualified applicants, so long as they're 30 years old with 8 years of experience doing something or other computery.
Explains why the likes of MS et al. take backward steps all the time. It's just like all the people that learned from previous mistakes have left without passing it on. Funny that. What's that about those who don't learn from history being bound to repeat it?
If I were MS I would take being able to repeat my history as a massive win
It might not be age discrimination but there's no way out of this bad situation.
It's extremely difficult to work at Google if you have any experience in the real world. Very complex tasks may be easy but the numerous easy tasks are nearly impossible. "The Google Way" has become a symbol of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Only the most inexperienced hires can work there without realizing how much time they're wasting on things that have no reason to exist. Proving that older workers aren't a good fit would require proving how naive employees must be to work at Google.
(characterised as failure to whoop, say "I'm excited" and "sick" to every half thought out concept)
(characterised by suggesting deadlines that reflect changes to be accomplished in the physical world not purely in cloud concepts)
(seeing the baby as somehow more valuable than the bathwater when it comes to graphical interfaces)
Guilty on all counts, probably over 40, no prospect of remorse or rehabilitation to post-millennial values.
I can tell by the bitter and borderline idiotic comments that there is truth to what they say about Tory/Ukip/breixter age-groups. Clearly its all the fault of political correctness yada yada. I have hundreds of rejection letters in my inbox, including a couple from Google too if that matters. But keep up your irrational hatred of self driving cards, macbooks and women. It suits you.
While there are certainly enough crusty older people that are jaded and don't know their left from their right mouse button, there are also plenty with a wealth of experience and that are still very sharp.
Older workers may not always think quite as quick as a 20-something, but they're also likely to stop and reconsider before making a truly bonehead mistake, and they're certainly less flaky and flighty, and overall more reliable. Older people, especially engineers, have made all their mistakes before and are less likely to repeat them.
I would pretty much pick an older worker to design a UI any day before a youngster with no experience but plenty of "innovative ideas!"
I recall one evening a branch office was broken into and all of the computer equipment was cleared out. We had to provide serial numbers etc of all of the equipment for the obvious reasons.
Now, the asset register for this company didn't note where equipment was deployed, so there was a discussion between several (most) of the second line engineers as to how to get that information. An irate ~70 year old stormed out of his office, and told them he was fed up with this discussion outside his office.
When they then started to apologise and find somewhere else to have the discussion, he told them that it was quite alright, but go and do some useful work instead of chatting. And he gave them a printed list of all of the network attached assets on site (the hostnames were the asset numbers) and suggested that they cross reference against the asset register for the serial numbers.
Dead silence. Nobody expected that from the department's official old guy, who management hadn't yet forced to retire. Many a younger worker did some quiet re-evaluating about if the older workers were good for more than stories about the old days.
I'm over the hill at 41 now, and work like crazy to differentiate myself from the stereotypical older IT worker. Unfortunately, companies lump everyone in together and assume that everyone is crusty, set in their ways and won't learn anything new. I'm in systems engineering, and our field is going nuts right now with software-defined everything, public clouds, etc...and I'm going along with it, learning everything I can and seeing where the dust will settle after the second dotcom/social media bubble bursts. There are plenty of older folks saying "oh, this Docker stuff will never take off" and "the company will never move to a public cloud." Let's just say I'm not betting on either of those coming true -- I'm hedging.
There are some enlightened places out there that value experience, but Silicon Valley employers are generally not in this group. Microsoft skews older, which is good, but it's still very hard convincing a 28 year old team lead (or worse, a 28 year old MBA with no experience appointed to a manager spot) that you're worth taking a chance on. The reason I think this lawsuit is a good thing is that, for better or worse, Google and GE seem to have the most slavishly copied HR policies in the world. Every company has an open plan office because of Google. Many companies experiment with stack ranking because of GE. If these companies have to change their behavior towards older workers even slightly, the rest of the HR managers will note the change and immediately implement it verbatim.
Older employees tend to have more experience. I'm not talking about knowing ancient, irrelevant technologies, I'm talking about knowing people, logical processes, unrelated but reusable concepts and ideas etc etc. I'm not ragging on the younger guys & gals, who tend to have a little more energy and optimism.
But, yeah, there is an impression that people over 40ish are getting more useless by the day, and I think it's very probably a self-fulfilling prophesy.
being black in America.
As FB and GOOG age, their ageism is quite blatant vs when they were younger and sought advice and direction from many experienced sources. Guess they so good they don't needs no hep.
Good luck as they try to penetrate and transform transportation and other industries without contacts in government and experience in manufacturing and regulatory processes that has eluded them so far.
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