Feature

Your shout: Age concern, women in IT

Computer Weekly readers have their say

Beware of the age-old qualifications trap

The changes to the law and Ibukun Adebayo's views on ageism (Computer Weekly, 19 September) are welcome, and they include one suggestion that looks good, but it contains its own sting: "Equip yourself with more qualifications than the 20-somethings."

Two organisations kicked me out - sorry, "let me go" - during my 40s, despite good internal reviews and the updating of my CV with exciting qualifications. Was I too old? Passing by ideas of paranoia or egotism, I think I was merely too expensive.

My CV got me interviews that I lost when the suggestion came up that I was over qualified, and therefore, (I suspected) too expensive. Notice how adverts seldom say what the salary is.

Early on I learned to leave my age off CVs, but how could I disguise the years of development involved in gaining my experience and qualifications? Keep the CV short, and when application forms are insisted upon just enter edited highlights. Leave out schooling because GCE is a dead giveaway when it is not a typo for GCSE.

Another trend played to my advantage despite the CV dilemma: I took work on short-term contracts, demonstrated that I was useful and was taken on "permanently". But I have also moved into IT training because old people like me are acceptable there and I have been in work ever since. So far.

Jonathan McColl

Some look distinguished, others had better buy dye

Ibukun Adebayo's article on life after 40 (Computer Weekly, 19 September) is another of her brilliant articles.

One thing she failed to capture is the link between ageism and sexism within IT. If you are a white male with greying hair, you are described as distinguished and readily offered a senior role regardless of your qualifications.

If you are anything else, then, as she said, reach for the dye bottle and keep studying until you are hopefully noticed as having more qualifications than anyone else in the reckoning for the same job you are after.

Jane Lauder

Getting the edge on the 20-somethings

I agree with Ibukun Adebayo's views on ageism in the IT industry (Computer Weekly, 19 September). As an IT support engineer in my 30s, I am encouraged and inspired by this article to improve myself with more training and qualifications to add value to my skills.

This will give me a competitive edge and a better chance to compete with those 20-somethings vying for that position that would make them my boss. I do not want to be redundant in IT because of my age group.

Thanks to Adebayo for throwing more light on this issue. This article was very empowering and encouraging.

Helen Agbarha

There is still life in IT after you turn 40

I read with interest Ibukun Adebayo's article (Computer Weekly, 19 September). There is a genuine worry that, once one reaches a certain age, the career door looks more closed than open.

IT has been through this many times. I remember "restructuring" in the 1980s and 1990s when companies decided that their salary bills were getting out of hand and that bringing in younger, less experienced staff would help to reduce their costs.

Maybe the new legislation will help, but I do think there is a lot of luck in where you decide to take your career and which companies you approach for that all important over-40 future. It helps if you can empathise with those you have to work with, but there are still plenty of opportunities out there.

One thing that has helped is the number of contract staff being employed. Does a contractor normally put date of birth on their CV?

I was already programming an IBM 1401 in assembler language when Ibukun Adebayo was born. I can also remember the days before Computer Weekly. I am still at the sharp end in IT, albeit not programming, but still enjoying "being there".

And if you think this has been my only career, I had already served in Her Majesties Forces for eight years before finding a career in IT.

There is still life after 40, 50 and 60. Just go for it and enjoy being there.

Alan Parker

Find the lady proves a very tricky problem

The promotion for the BCS IT professional awards (Computer Weekly, 19 September), focusing on the women in IT award, was illustrated by two pictures, one with exactly two women out of 13 previous BCS award-winners and one showing a male speaker.

I guess it speaks for the state of equality in our industry very well.

Moray McConnachie, IS manager, Oxford Analytica

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This was first published in October 2006

 

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