Susan J. Robertson on “Aging Out” of Tech

I’ve been thinking about tech and aging lately. It feels so much like a young person’s place to be, with the emphasis on spending all of your time learning and working, be it paid work or side projects. I’ve been the oldest person, or one of the oldest, at most places I’ve worked the past few years. And recently a friend talked about aging out, specifically in regards to being a woman in tech, making plans for what to do next since she knows so few older women in tech. It got me thinking, a lot. I realized that I hardly know any women over 45 who are still working in tech. It’s less than the fingers on one hand.

Susan writes about her particular experience of being a woman in tech, but over the break I found myself thinking about many of the same things. I quite enjoy learning new skills, but I also find myself rejecting the implicit assumption that by participating in tech culture I must devote all my free time to learning and staying on the cutting edge.

I feel that tension more often these days as I move deeper into a role that is weighted heavily towards management (as opposed to writing code). I worry that the further I get from day-to-day coding, the less portable I become in the tech economy. I also wonder how much tolerance I have left for an industry that overwhelmingly values novelty and aesthetics over accessibility and usefulness.