UK Tech Workers Face Age Discrimination at 29

A study from CWJobs seems to have discovered staggering levels of ageism in the UK tech and IT industry. The survey went out to 2000 UK workers, and another 250 people that worked in IT to explore the extent to which professionals experienced age discrimination.

Ageism in the UK tech scene seems to range from what some would deem harmless comments, to being completely overlooked for a step up in their careers in favour of younger team mates. The study found that 41% of tech workers said  they observed age discrimination at work, compared to 27% across other industries in the UK.

Not only that, but 61% of workers in the industry said that employees in the industry experienced prejudice when deemed to be older. This is higher than in any other UK industry.

The survey also found that IT workers were facing age discrimination a whole decade earlier than the national average. UK tech workers start experiencing ageism at 29 and are considered “too old” for their sector by 38. From that, 36% of IT professionals reported that it was implied their career would be negatively affected by their increasing age.

Even though the UK has an aging population, 40% of the workforce says they feel old compared to their colleagues, however amongst tech workers this number rises to 57%. While the general workforce states they start to feel old at 47, tech professionals say the same thing at 37 years old.

Age-based discrimination includes but is not limited to 47% reporting not being offered a role, 28% reporting being excluded from social activities, and 31% reporting being overlooked for promotions.

 As mentioned before, there can be a lot of microaggressions that IT workers experience and these include names such as “old git” (58%), “dinosaur” (56%), and 53% even reported hearing “coffin dodger”.

Furthermore phrases like “old people don’t understand technology” were heard by 60%. Men are predominantly faced with ageist insults across all industries, despite the fact that the average age of a UK tech worker is 35.

Even though ageism is very prevalent, 64% don’t report it and the main reason for that is because of not wanting to cause a fuss (33%). Though ageism is illegal only 47% of tech workers are aware of it.

Ageism can have highly negative consequences. In all sectors 76% of those that have experienced this type of discrimination say it has affected their mental health. It creates feelings of stress in 31% and demotivation in their roles in 28%. When it comes to tech professionals that have faced ageism, 39% say they are more likely to be excluded from benefits, and 51% says they simply choose to leave their job due to this.

In an industry where talent is scarce, where talent attraction is one of the main pain points, it seems counterintuitive to foster cultures of discrimination. So, what can be done to change this? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

If you’d like to read further on this subject: Age Discrimination: How to avoid it in the workplace