Ageism in Software Development

Benoit Lavigne wonders if ageism is a problem in the software development profession. Oh, hell yeah. From the minute I began editing software development magazines (when I was 25) I began hearing from professionals in their 40s and higher who faced disproportionate difficulty getting work. There is not a question in my mind that this is a real problem. True, this is a field that is unforgiving to those who don't keep their skills current, but I've heard far too many stories to believe that's the only, or even dominant, factor.

Now that I have a touch of gray around the temples myself, I worry about this myself. I'm the oldest person on my programming team right now and I'm at least two decades away from retiring. I have no doubt that it will be harder and harder for me to get work as a developer, no matter how current my coding skills stay. If I'm on the phone with a potential client and they ask about my experiences, I don't say "Professional programmer for 27 years," because I think that could very well trigger ageism; I say "I sold my first program when I was 16."

I fear the day when I'm so old that the only work I'll be able to get will be drawing lines between boxes and pretending I'm delivering value.