When you attend a tech event, the greater population is the younger generation. The young, the agile, the CEOs at 20 and the Forbes billionaires under 30 list. There are so many opportunities for young ones. They have their future ahead of them, the time, the energy and the zeal to cover a lot of grounds.
The technology industry is, no doubt, constantly growing, but so is the bias. According to some studies, the age bias starts to hit when you are in your late 30s. The race begins for an inventor to be young before they make the headlines. The props go to young inventor and innovator as against the older ones. Could all these be because most of the popular CEOs of tech giant companies are young men?
Mark Zuckerberg started out early, and so did the Estonian owner of the cab-hailing company, Bolt. Markus Villig launched Taxify, which is now Bolt, at the young age of 19. Evan Spiegel, the creator of Snapchat, was named the youngest billionaire in the world in 2015. He was 24. It seems, with tech, the younger the better. If you have not started out at 16, then you might likely be arriving late.
A report carried out in the United States in 2018 showed that age was the strongest investor bias against founders. Apparently, 89 per cent of founders said older people face discrimination in tech, following this closely is gender. The combination of being older and female makes it impossible to have room in the tech space.
We implore technology every day to solve our everyday problems. Unlike other careers, the ability to have fresh new ideas to solve these problems is what makes you successful in the tech space. The younger you are, the fresher your ideas and the more you can think outside the box. The important thing in tech is to do something no one else is doing.
Andela, for example, takes them young. The younger you are, the higher your chances of meeting the employment cap at tech startups. The lack of commitment and flexibility of young people might also be responsible for this. You also do not need a university degree to be a developer or programmer. You can just head out of secondary school and kick off your career with no hassles. No need to waste time and money when you can already start making money.
An Andela staff who never made it to the university and lives in the work building once explained how they have all they need. It is like a work university campus with a gym, playground and, of course, the ‘pleasure’ of working round the clock. This will be almost impossible for someone who is older with a family and other commitments.
No hope for the old?
This is great for young people, but where does that leave the people above 30 who are looking for these same opportunities? Are older people void of smart ideas? Less productive, perhaps? That is unlikely.
Tech companies, and not just HR, needs balance. The older developers and programmers and inventors should not be looked down on. There are probably innovative ideas that are getting shunned because these older age brackets are not given a chance. There is a lot of good that comes with maturity. The focus to solve old age problems should never be ignored. It goes beyond just fun mobile phone apps and gaming.
An interesting problem is the lack of older role models for older people in the tech space. There are the likes of Jeff Bezos and Bills Gates though. Right?