There’s an ageism problem in Silicon Valley, such that 40-year-old geezers attempting to get hired by fresh-faced twentysomething startup founders have resorted to botox, according to this New Republic cover story. Of course, the entire thing is absurd and sad, and the practice of only hiring “People Who Have Their Best Work Ahead of Them, Not Behind Them,” as the IT company ServiceNow proclaims, is misguided. Yes, young people have boundless energy and may offer a certain valuable perspective to a business. But many people improve with age, and have decades of experience and wisdom that can’t be matched by someone two months out of college. Case in point? Feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
Tomorrow, Steinem will turn 80 years old, which is practically dead to Silicon Valley wunderkinds. But Steinem hasn’t exactly withered away since her activist days in the ’70s. In fact, according to her friend and fellow activist Robin Morgan, she is more effective than ever. “She is a better organizer now than she ever has been. She’s a better persuader. She’s a better writer than she ever has been if she’d give herself the time to sit down and write,” Morgan told the New York Times.
Throughout her life as a public figure, Steinem has continued to reshape the way people view aging, pushing back against the misguided ageism in American culture. At 40, she famously came out, so to speak, telling a reporter “This is what 40 looks like.” At the time, it was common for women over 30 to lie about their age. Since, she has stormed into each new decade proudly, and claims to love getting old–mostly. “Fifty was a shock, because it was the end of the center period of life. But once I got over that, 60 was great. Seventy was great. And I loved, I seriously loved aging. I found myself thinking things like: ‘I don’t want anything I don’t have.’ How great is that?” she told The New York Times.
The children running Silicon Valley companies should take note. Not everyone over the age of 28 is a decrepit has-been or “just smarter,” as Mark Zuckerberg famously said of young people back in 2007. Plus, one day, the youngsters of the Valley will be considered the old farts, and wouldn’t it be nice if by then people actually respected and valued their years of experience?