Friday, July 26, 2013

Technology Workers Are Young (Really Young)

This will seem like biased support of older workers, but it is simply a counterbalance to the inherent bias toward younger workers as described in this NY Times piece. In truth, younger workers have many qualities to their benefit, but the issue is manifold:

  • More experienced workers are presumed to be less skilled, less compliant, etc., but recent studies have shown that older workers have comparable skills compared to younger workers. In one study, the most skilled and knowledgeable were in their 40's, with less 'skill' to either side.
  • Younger workers are sometimes assumed to be more analytical, while older workers more productive and stable, albeit more expensive. Younger workers are presumed to have more g (the fluid intelligence stuff), part of creativity. Productive creation often requires a mix of new insight mixed with crystallized knowledge, but the experiential aspect is dismissed in the drive for new.
  • Cost plays a part, and smaller companies will look for cheap employees, and despite productivity, younger workers are often chosen.
  • Younger employers, hence younger, managers are biased to hire younger workers via affiliation, as well as concerns about control
  • Younger workers have lower opportunity cost, and often take riskier employment without concern for repercussions older workers might have already experienced
  • People are notoriously bad at hiring, and considering the complexity of the competing facets, i.e., cost, productivity, skill assessment, etc., hiring is malformed
  • Appearances also play a role, in that many older workers likely look particularly old, e.g., overweight, balding, etc., and younger companies might be loath to hire them. It pays to be fit.

A Journey — if You Dare — Into the Minds of Silicon Valley Programmers

My responses in a NY Times comment section for the book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson ...