Silicon Valley tech companies and their workplaces are the envy of the world. But for Pilar Wolfsteller the tech ecosystem has lost its shine. Here’s her Perspective.
I recently was let go from the last full-time job I will likely ever hold in Silicon Valley. After years of clawing my way up the corporate ladder, I have given up. Working in the Valley was memorable and while I didn’t become filthy rich, I could live comfortably. I have been lucky and privileged and for that I am grateful.
But I learned there is an ugly underbelly to the rainbow sparkles of the tech ecosystem. Where “failing fast” is celebrated, workers at all those failed start-ups are expected to quickly move on. Many do, but others, often those like me over 40, are left behind. We seem to be suddenly invisible.
A friend told me that during his late 40s, he was fired from four jobs due to age-related discrimination, and he’s got a collection of NDAs to prove it. We both have advanced degrees from top universities, international work experience, and can run circles around younger professionals in our fields. Millennial recruiters tell us we are “overqualified.” It took me a while to figure out that was a euphemism for “too expensive” or “basically dead already.”
I’m now 49, and I have had three Valley tech jobs in four years, two of which I lost after clashing with mediocre, insecure men. I’m tired of the toxic, dysfunctional work environments they created and the blatant, disturbing sexism and ageism experienced there. I am tired of the stress-induced anxiety attacks at 3 a.m., when I woke up in a panic, barely able to breathe.