Friday, March 31, 2006

Am I ageist?

I've managed people older than me for most of my working life. They've mostly been only a little bit older than me, or else I've known them for long enough that I've forgotten that they're older than me by the time I manage them.

I've realised lately that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of hiring someone too much older than me to work for me. It's particularly difficult for me if it's someone I've known since I started working (and was clearly junior to them) but even if not, it's a struggle for me.

It's a combination of difficulty in feeling justfied in being someone's boss if I'm older than them, and a bit of prejudice about the ability of workers significantly older than me to adapt to the modern world (since I'm being honest). That last one is completely unfair. I've seen quite a few older workers who are proud of their inability to use a computer, but they're usually the ones that are senior enough that they can get away with that kind of silliness. The more junior ones, the ones who might work for me, are usually just as capable of using a computer as anyone else doing their job might be.

I think the answer to my question is yes, I am ageist, but as I become aware of it, I hope that I can avoid being ageist in any way but my thinking.

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I probably started thinking about this because for the first time in my life I'm working for someone younger than me. Only by six months, but I'm sure it won't be the first time.

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