• The Category 1 IT workforce is younger than that in other occupations with workers of comparable educational attainment.

Figure 4.1 shows the age distribution of IT workers relative to workers in other professional specialty occupations in 1999. The IT workforce is somewhat younger: while 46 percent of those in professional specialty occupations overall are under the age of 40, 58 percent of IT workers are under the age of 40.

The age distribution alone cannot inform the question on the extent of age discrimination since one cannot determine whether the smaller proportion of older workers is due to employment decisions of employers (and if so, whether the decisions are legally justified or not) or to the decisions by workers themselves. For example, the age distribution may be the result of a legally permissible “work environment” among some employers that is not compatible with the needs or preferences of many older workers.

Another possible explanation is that the IT industry is a relatively young field, so that one would not expect to find as many older workers in IT as in more established engineering fields. Indeed, a number of IT job categories—Web master, Web designer, Java programmer, to name a

FIGURE 4.1 Age distribution of category 1 IT, category 2 IT, and professional specialty workers, 1999. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, March 1999, special tabulation.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement