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Letters: Brogrammers and older workers

Before Facebook went public today, thousands and thousands of hours were spent coding. People -- guys usually -- writing the programs that would make the website work. And that gets us to our undisputed top letters story of this week, about the 'brogrammer' -- young men and the work culture they can sometimes create.

Jesse Langham is a computer programmer in San Francisco. He wrote in to say way to go -- in getting it so wrong.

Jesse Langham: As a programmer with social skills, perfect vision and pockets that never need protection, the coining of the world "brogrammer" is quite thrilling to me. Because the number of stereotypes that apply to me has increased to two. I no longer have to explain that I am not an awkward nerd when I tell people about my work. Now I just have to tell them I am not a sexist or tactless frat boy. So thanks for that, Marketplace.

We did get a lot of letters from women who agree the brogrammer is alive and well in their tech workplace. But not Lisa Schnettler. She's been working in IT for close to 20 years, most recently in Jersey City, N.J.

Lisa Schnettler: These womanizing frat boys described as IT guys. I've never met one. Sci-fi nuts, definitely. Sometimes condescending until you prove your bona fides, sure. But disrespectful of me as a woman -- never.

The economy is, by the broader numbers, getting better. But by each individual situation -- not really. Earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office came out with a report saying the number of people 55 and over who're long-term unemployed has soared since the recession.

Thea Belecz from McCall, Idaho, wants to know more.

Thea Belecz: I am 55 and fit this profile. I would love to hear you do a spot regarding how people in my age group are managing. Are they moving back in with their 90-year-old parents? How and what are they doing?

Story ideas always welcome. Praise about, and problems with, what you hear on the program as well. Write us.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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With regards to Thea Belecz's question:
I haven't heard much regarding how the struggles of the baby boomers are affecting their kids. I'm a 27-year-old full-time student working on my PhD. My husband is one of the many college graduates who still hasn't been able to get into a career that utilizes his degree, and he's working in the janitorial job he had before he graduated. About 4 years ago, just when I was about to finish my undergraduate work, two significant things happened: I was accepted into grad school, and my dad was terminated from his job. My parents lost their home last year, and had to live with us for a while in our little apartment. They are now living in Section 8 housing, and we are thankful that they are able to get food stamps and the little help that Medicaid provides. However, my mom has a degenerative back injury that has been going untreated due to inadequate health coverage, and she has progressively lost the ability to do a lot of everyday things for herself. My dad recently turned 60, and has faced age discrimination when looking for work. They have no assets, savings, retirement, or other family members to fall back on at this point, and due to medical bills from years past, they need to declare bankruptcy, but don't have the money to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. I'm just hoping that as their only child, I'll be able to take care of them. I love them and desperately want to see them enjoy life again. The last few years have been an emotional and financial struggle, and I worry about what kind of hardships may be ahead.

I'm almost 60 and was in business to business sales for over twenty years. For my mid-life crisis, I decided to become an elementary school teacher. After ten years if trying to break into teaching, I went back into sales, consumer electronics telephone sales. After 8 years of that, a down-sizing left me jobless. I decided to think about things I was interested in and came up with insurance. My dad was a State Farm agent in the 60s and 70s, so I knew a little about it. I studied for the licenses, and was hired within a month of being licensed and looking for a position. I feel great that my experience helps people make the right decisions about how much insurance they should have. Not bad.

Greetings Marketplace,

With regard to your story and Thea of McCall, ID.

This transitioning architect (I've been a home-dad for 11 years no different
than a home-mom) of a young 56 has suffered for 5 years trying to find a
new job. Even though I have massive talent (expert BIM and virtual modeling
skills, decades of experience, very creative) I have been repeatedly turned down
because of age bias or some would say age discrimination no different than
race discrimination. Marketplace has reported on this problem. It is painful,
frustrating and is a cause of heavy anger in my heart. It's always the same,
I'll interview (if I get the chance) and they come to the age part suddenly the
interview goes flat. What happens to many of us is that technology becomes
the enemy. If I Google my name it will come and a leading fact that pops with
is my age. Right then it's over for any employer doing research. I contacted
the information company and they will not even respond much less remove the fact.
And guess what the underlying problem really is: HEALTHCARE. Employers
do not want a healthcare liability going forward with costs out of control. I have
even offered to provide my own if they pay fairly. NO WAY - almost all employers
I talk too want inexperienced so they can "mold" them. The experience is irrelevant,
in my opinion it's ALL ABOUT THE SHORT TERM MONEY................ Just another
reason why healthcare should never be tied and/or dependent on an employer.
Why are the two even related anyway?

How are we managing? Miserably with great stress and fear of the
future. Age discrimination against the law? Good luck trying to prove
that one w/o anything in writing and no employer is that stupid.

Cheers Thea and all the best going going forward and all I can suggest
is: expect the worst than what you get can only be better........

Michael Doll AIA - frustrated and starving architect

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