Relics of IT haunted by the Botox bias

The IT industry is young, vibrant and dynamic. Try saying it out loud while snapping your fingers.

Young (snap), vibrant (snap), dynamic (snap). Compelling stuff.

But hang on....did I say young? Oops, I meant to say mature, vibrant and dynamic. Not AS compelling.

Bring maturity into the picture and the story isn't quite as fast-moving and sexy. But it really is all about perceptions.

Our youth-obsessed culture has us suffering from what I call the Botox bias.

That is, we equate maturity with all things dull. To be young is to be agile, to be mature is to be staid.

They are only perceptions I know, but they must be overcome to accommodate Australia's ageing workforce.

In the next decade mature workers will be the majority, and I have no doubt they will be a very vocal majority judging by the feedback I have received from readers in the past fortnight.

Prompted by a story we ran on the 'grey brigade' two weeks ago, Computerworld has been inundated by e-mails and letters claiming ageism is rife in the IT industry.

(Oh yeah and a few disparaging remarks about our 'grey brigade' reference, but I won't elaborate here expect to say there is no age barrier when it comes to swearing).

The story in question wasn't particularly controversial. Well I didn't think so (she says with the casual nonchalance of a person under the age of 55). A brave admission I know.

Basically the article suggested using older workers to address continuing skills shortages and to bring back some of the talent that left the industry in the wake of the dotcom crash.

Readers were quick to point out it isn't that simple. Only a young person could be so naive.

According to readers, there are age barriers in place that can only be described as brick walls.

A particularly tough situation when you consider that up to 80 percent of the IT workforce is made up of contractors.

That means lots of movement throughout the industry which equals too many job interviews and too many recruiters. It also means a hell of a lot of hair dye to cover up all that grey hair.

As our ageing workforce is keenly aware, impressions and perceptions are everything.

But should this response be so surprising?

Let's think about it for a moment.....oldie, relic, codger, fossil, dinosaur.....do I need to go on?

Not exactly terms of endearment but these descriptions are a reflection of the kind of Botox bias that is experienced by the over-55s in today's workforce.

And there are plenty examples of this ageism in our special report on page 6.

So what's the immediate solution? Botox? Feedback to sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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