Reducing age stereotypes in software development: The effects of awareness- and cooperation-based diversity interventions
Negative age stereotypes about older employees are present across industries and they are especially strong in technology-based jobs. They can hinder cooperation and team processes, which are of utmost importance in software development. This paper proposes and compares two interventions to reduce age stereotypes in software development. An awareness-based intervention was conducted on-the job as a quasi-experiment with 56 participants. A cooperation-based workshop was conducted as a field experiment with 74 employees. Both types of interventions reduced bias in performance and innovation expectations favoring middle-aged over older employees. Biases held by developers were reduced particularly strongly. Only the cooperation-based intervention reduced bias toward both older and younger employees. This intervention reduced the bias regarding developer performance expectations long-term (six months). The study extends the diversity training literature in establishing causal, long-term effects for age stereotype reduction in the field. Furthermore, it contributes to the literature by indicating that the contact hypothesis cannot be applied only to reduce age stereotypes toward older but also toward younger employees. The intervention’s design enables practitioners to create on-the-job diversity interventions that employees are willing to attend, and thus reach a majority of employees without being mandatory.
Schlögel, U, Stegmann, S., Maedche, A. & Van Dick, R. (2016). Reducing age stereotypes in software development: The effects of awareness- and cooperation-based diversity interventions. Journal of Systems and Software, 121, 1-15.