Mari September 17, 2008 1:15 pm

Diversity has always been part of the American experience. Yet our history shows we Americans still fail to respect people who are different from ourselves. I know because I continually see these issues in my own life. I went to school to become an IT technician in the early 90's. I was often the only woman in my classes. I had to firm my jaw and press through. I then dealt with hiring authorities who told me I wasn't a good candidate for IT jobs because they "needed someone who could pick up large monitors," for example. I had to fight for a job, and then deal with things like technicians calling me a [expletive], or my employer asking me to learn to perform a function so I could teach it to my higher-paid co-worker who was unable to learn it from a book. I went back to college in 2003 as an older student, and then had to deal with teachers and students treating me as if I didn't belong. Even during graduation this year, while standing at the end of the line of candidates in my cap and gown, the announcer leaned over to the young man in front of me and asked him if he was the last graduate. Now as a baby boomer with years of experience and training, I read about IT employers looking to hire new "college graduates" to begin building their "new workforce" for the future. Hmmm...I am a new college graduate, at age 52. Do you imagine I would be welcomed to this new workforce scheme? Perhaps I am being jaded to think that I, gray-headed and clearly a baby-boomer, would be overlooked despite the big 2008 on my degree. Are we now (going back to...) hiring people by their age? Are we hiring by their accent (or lack of it?) Are we hiring by gender? By nationality? By weight? By religion? By skin color? I think old diversity issues are rising again in the IT industry and it is time we begin thinking about what we are suggesting.