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Navigating Ageism and Gender Diversity



Before delving into the heart of this article, I'd like to offer a glimpse into my background for those who may not be familiar with my journey before my time in London.


My career in North America's tech industry spans over three decades, beginning as an entry-level employee in 1988 and culminating in a prominent C-Suite role in 2019. It was a remarkable journey filled with innovation, accomplishments, and recognition. My team and I were known for punching above our weight, a testament to our consistently delivered innovative work. Over the years, I garnered numerous industry accolades, but one that holds a special place in my heart is being recognised four times on INvolve's list of top 100 LGBTQ+ executives.


In 2016, while in that C-Suite role, I underwent a significant personal and professional transformation, transitioning openly on the job. However, due to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), details about my departure from that role have remained confidential.


Fast forward to my arrival in the UK in 2020. I began a job search in technology while nurturing my burgeoning diversity practice. After a year and a half of applying for tech roles without success, I devoted my full attention to developing my diversity practice, drawing from my extensive experience advocating for gender diversity and LGBTQ+ rights.


Recently, an opportunity arose, and I submitted my application for a technology role. To my disappointment, I didn't receive an interview invitation. This setback prompted a critical question: What characteristic or combination of characteristics hinders my ability to secure an interview? This article results from my quest to explore the dynamics of gender and ageism in the job market, and I'm eager to share my findings with you.


 

With its constant innovation and rapid changes, the technology industry is often seen as a forward-looking sector. However, it's not immune to the complex issues of ageism and gender diversity. For individuals like myself, an award-winning leader with over 25 years of experience in senior leadership positions, the journey in the tech job market has been marked by unique challenges. In this article, we explore the intersection of ageism, transgender identity, and being a woman in technology, shedding light on the complexities of these experiences.

Ageism: A Persistent Barrier Ageism, the discrimination or stereotypes based on one's age, affects individuals across the age spectrum. In the technology industry, where youth and innovation are often prized, older professionals can encounter barriers in their job searches. I am 57 years old and faced the double challenge of being a more senior professional and a transgender woman.

Transgender Identity in Tech: Breaking Down Barriers My journey in the tech industry is not just defined by her age but also by her identity as a transgender woman. Discrimination and bias against transgender individuals continue to be obstacles in workplaces worldwide. For me, the question lingers: Did my transgender identity play a role in my job application outcomes?

Women in Technology: Battling Gender Bias Gender diversity remains a significant challenge in the technology sector. Women in technology often face stereotypes and biases that can affect their job prospects and career growth. Despite my extensive leadership experience, gender-related bias may still have played a part in my job applications.

The Intersection of Identities: A Complex Challenge For individuals like myself, the challenges of ageism, gender diversity, and transgender identity intersect, creating a unique and complex set of circumstances. These intersecting identities can amplify biases and discrimination, making the job search even more challenging.

Strategies for Success: Advocacy and Resilience Despite these challenges, my resilience and dedication to creating safe spaces and championing human rights have been unwavering. I believe my advocacy work in promoting diversity and inclusion showcases my commitment to these principles to potential employers.

Moving Forward: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion Like all sectors, the tech industry benefits from a diverse and inclusive workforce. To address ageism and gender diversity challenges, organisations must embrace diversity in all its forms and eliminate biases from their hiring processes.

In conclusion, my journey in the tech industry is a poignant reminder of the hurdles individuals may face due to ageism, transgender identity, and gender bias. My mission to create safe spaces where everyone feels they belong aligns with the broader goals of fostering inclusivity in the technology sector. As we move forward, we must recognise the value of diverse perspectives and champion the rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their age, gender identity, or expression.


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With over 25 years of experience in corporate and board leadership, including the past seven years focused on supporting the LGBTQ+ community and women's rights, I am available to speak, mentor, or consult for your next gender-related event. Please contact me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.

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