SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Ageism is becoming a growing problem in the male-dominated tech industry and some are finding creative ways around it.
“If you look at Facebook, Apple, Google … the average age is 30,” said Dr. Larry Fan, a highly sought-after plastic surgeon in San Francisco.
Because of this, Fan says the number of men in the tech industry coming to see him for cosmetic procedures is on the rise. His clients get everything from Botox to filler injections and micro-needling, to more invasive surgeries like chin lifts and liposuction. They are doing it in hopes of competing with their younger counterparts.
“They are being viewed as irrelevant because they are too old to understand or they are not current,.” said Fan of many of his clients. “They do feel like they are discriminated against.”
Which could be why the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery saw a whopping 325% increase in less than five years from men getting cosmetic procedures. It’s become so popular that procedures like Botox have also become known as “Brotox.”
Rob Jackson, 40-year-old founder of marketing startup End Game, says he believes keeping up your appearance goes hand in hand with securing a good job.
“I think it’s always about getting your foot into the door, right? And if you have an edge in any sort of way, I mean, it could be a good haircut, good teeth, good looking skin,” said Jackson. “You have the appearance of being sharper. I think anything with your appearance is super important when it comes to getting a job that you want.”
If the median age in the high tech industry is 30, by the time you are 40, are you seen as “over the hill?”
Last year, Google paid an $11 million settlement to more than 200 job applicants over the age of 40. They claim Google had discriminated against them because of their age.
San Francisco employment attorney Robert Nelson handles age discrimination cases in the tech industry all the time. He says many companies flag candidates using key words while interviewing.
“You didn’t have enough ‘googleyness,’ you weren’t a cultural fit. You couldn’t fit in with the energy of the company,” said Nelson. “These were the typical buzz phrases when they were trying to flag someone’s age without saying anything about it.”
Nelson pointed to another lawsuit alleging Google referred to some of its workers over the age of 40 as “Greyglers.”
Recruiting firm Riviera Partners CEO Will Hunsinger thinks men going under the knife just to get an edge in Silicon Vallehy is absurd, but he understands why they do it.
“I think that altering your appearance to fit in or conform to a standard certainly shows a potential level of insecurity,” said Hunsinger. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that we are making the right decisions when we are hiring our teams and placing the value on diversity.”
Nelson says he isn’t sure what the answer is to age discrimination in Silicon Valley.
“It’s a complicated problem. It’s a long standing problem. Is plastic surgery the answer to it? I don’t know,” said Nelson. “If plastic surgery helps, then God bless them.”
A recent Dice survey of 4,000 tech workers over the age of 40 found 80 percent of them said they were concerned about what their age meant for their futures in the tech industry.