Hi Duane. Yes, there are a lot of older engineers that are set in their ways and refuse to learn. I don't see that too much with the ones I work with. I do see most of them getting piegon holed into positions where they are milked for their knowledge and not allowed to move to positions that give them the opportunity to learn. I have that problem myself now where I have to keep working on the same IC tester to complete projects that the company needs and not able to move to the next generation tester to broaden my knowledge.
I'm in my 50's and have seen a bit of ageism. I also have a view from the other side. I don't see money as a big issue. Or, at least, I've seen it as more of an issue with younger folks expecting the salary of a 20 year veteran when right out of school.
The bigger problem I see is in willingness to learn. If a 55 year old engineer comes in and tells me that they are qualified because they can build an adder out of 7400 series logic, yet they've never heard of a QFN or BGA, they probably aren't going to get a second interview.
I don't buy into the theory that older people can't learn new things. I have seen plenty that don't want to, though. They seem to think that greatness of a decade ago equates to qualifications today. I don't care who you are, what your age, what your gender is or anything else. If you aren't willing to learn, you're not likely to get a job from me.
The technology world is full of amazing things. In my opinion, we're in a golden age of technology development. so many mind-blowing things are developing so rapidly, that it simply isn't possible to get bored. I don't see how someone can call themselves an engineer and yet, not want absorb as much of this stuff as is possible.
I agree, Sheepdoll. I have seen many older engineers have a difficult time finding work. I think the biggest problem is the money. Companies would rather hire a fresh out that has to be trained than a seasoned engineer that can hit the ground running. It seems that all companies are run by the finance department these days. If the engineers made the hiring decisions, it could really help the bottom line even if the salaries are higher.
@Sheepdoll: Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. I'd love to hear more of it.
I too am concerned about ageism--especially now that I am 56, not an engineer but I think ageism spans all professions. I have not experienced it, but I know how cost conscious and youth focused our society can be.
daleste - ... in the 80's when there really was very few women in the industry.
In some ways I am a product of this diversification. Graduating in the early 1980s with a 2 year EET certificate. My first jobs were customer support. Then I did temp work where they expected me to be a typist. Which I was atrociously bad at. One agency was surprised I knew the resistor color code.
In my case I hit my stride in the 1990s. During the so called dot com bubble. There was little discussion regarding the gender ratio. One just worked for more and more money back then.
I think the real elephant in the room is not gender or even culture. It is ageism. That once an engineer is over 40 they are considered too old. To expensive or to iconoclastic. That the engineer will want to wind up running the department or company their way.
Combine this with the adage that most people only will listen to what they want to hear or makes them self feel comfortable. The result is that the same retoric keeps getting repeated with little progress.
I am reminded of a sign on the wall of one company I did temo at (working software QA.) this was "Change is inevitable, Progress is not."
I guess I didn't get the gender issue. There was some talk about it at the beginning of the article, but that was in the 80's when there really was very few women in the industry. I don't see that today. There still are more men but I think gender is not an issue now. I see everyone having an equal chance to excel based on performance. You still do have to produce more than others and always be right to get ahead regardless of your gender or other circumstances.