Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The innocence of ageism and corporate mono culture

I am past 60, easily flustered, and often make in-explicable mistakes with details. I try to catch the mistakes using new error checking strategies - but not entirely successfully. I almost always get the inequalities backwards, the first time I code something. Or I can spend several minutes trying to copy, rename, and move four files using Windows Explorer on a crowded desktop. Something routine like that can be quite error prone. It is embarrassing.

Today I took an employment interview "quiz" with a time limit. About 15 minutes into the allowed 45 minutes I started feeling fatigued. I continued and soon got stumped on a question involving filling in missing entries of a table. This question required me to read and understand the column headings (which were multiply nested) and I took too long. A few minutes later the time is almost up and I am having trouble taking 5% of 600,000 and wanting to check my work. I assure the reader I know how to do arithmetic but that is how flustered I get. It is too bad. It is embarrassing.

So here is the ageism: They expect me to learn quickly and understand a piece of data with complex layout - and they expect me to do it at the same speed as a smart college student. No fair! They also expect me to keep my cool under pressure. I never could, but the impact is far worse today than it was when I was twenty five. No fair!

I think that is the end of that interview. It was my mistake to put myself in the path of its youthful bias. I understand it because I might not hire me either.

There was a different sort of bias on display with today's quiz, aside from ageism. As a geometer I tend to think visually. As an experienced engineer I often know the answers in general and I have no trouble being inventive when needed. Those are the things I would brag about. But on today's "quiz" there was no geometry; no testing of knowledge; and never mind about creativity. Instead they tested a kind of algebra and logic reflecting the mental skills of the test designers - skills that are poorly aligned with mine, independently of my age. This is how an employment culture filters out the "different" and becomes a mono-culture. My guess is that mono-culture is not healthy for the company but, in any case, I do not expect potential employers to solve the problem of my getting old.

No comments:

Post a Comment