“Family Ties” star Justine Bateman, 48, returns to college for computer science degree

We need more women in STEM. Good for her. Glad she’s doing it.


both both both. Seriously. You are doing it right. I have done something similar with statistical computing. My undergrad degree is in creative writing. Did not take a single CS course. But I have found my life’s calling in my grad degree, which is in epidemiology and stats, which is really programming, which is really self-taught, but the biostats was formal education. So you need both, and raw natural curiosity.


I agree. I work in corporate IT infrastructure and it’s still definitely male-dominated.
I have a good friend that’s a senior administrator, and even though she’s spent 20+ years in IT she’s only in the recent couple of years been able to get paid properly for what she’s doing. She wasn’t starving, but dudes doing less and/or around less than her were absolutely getting paid more.
The landscape has changed in the last decade, but there’s room for improvement…


I finished my bachelors degree in my mid-30’s after dicking around for 10 years and now I’m back for my masters after another 10 years. When it’s all self funded, it’s amazing how motivated one becomes.

I was worried about going back and fitting in with the whipper-snappers but I’m finding instead that I’m treated as an elder statesman now with actual, real world experiences to share.

It’s not easy though and I’ve found that my critical thinking skills have hardened over the years of exposure to corporate newspeak. Learning how to learn again (in an unbiased way) is the hardest part.

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Wasn’t she also in that one show, “Too Many Cooks?”


I’m getting a lot of that too, surprisingly from many of the professors! Most of my CS professors are older than me, although not by much for a few of them, but my Web design (design, not coding) professor is about a decade younger. It’s an interesting experience. Oddly enough, I’m not even the oldest student in the current crop of CS students. There’s actually several of us in our 40s and at least one in his late 50s.

I always liked that Marjorie dated a rough dude named Nick.

Hint: My name is Nick.

I’d gone back to community college to prepare to get my bachelor’s, but I refactored that into getting some practical skills so I could get an entry-level IT job and support my partner through grad school. We had some plan that she would then get a full-time job and support me while I went back to school again.

However, I’m not sure if this plan is still viable.

  1. The community college teaching jobs my wife can get with her MA don’t pay as well as my entry-level IT job.
  2. Given how much trouble I had with first semester calculus, I don’t think I could handle the more advanced math courses I’d need to take for a CS degree.
  3. It would probably be easier to complete a degree in the humanities, which I was studying originally, but the only practical purpose that would serve is to meet a requirement that I have a degree of some kind, and it would still cost thousands of dollars and two years of work.
  4. My biggest worry is age discrimination. At 43, I’m already older than almost anyone I work with, and older than almost anyone I’ve seen in this eight-story office building full of IT workers and managers, for that matter, and leaving the work force for a few years would only worsen that problem.

All in all, going back to school for the sake of my career is starting to seem like as much of a long shot as taking a year off to write a novel.

Really troubling story. This is in today’s paper: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/us/driven-from-silicon-valleys-jungle-homeless-face-limited-options.html .

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Congratulations to Justine Bateman. That is fantastic.

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Employment potential for over-40 (even over 50!) computer professionals with a degree? Excellent! This has been my experience, anyway.
Judge for yourself: I went back to college at age 32 to do an engineering degree, because I was sick of being a civil servant & loved computers, and in the early 90s there were no real “computer” degrees. Two years later, I dropped out to take a high-paying (to me) help-desk job, using exactly none of the stuff* I had learned at school, although years later, my knowledge of AutoCAD, even though it was on a mainframe system with no mouse, helped in supporting that product.
I worked for more than 10 years doing mostly tech support, but some programming, Web stuff, and QA/user interface testing. I had all kinds of certificates showing my knowledge and abilities, but no one would hire me at a management level because I didn’t have a degree.
So I got a degree. In Communication, concentrating on Film and Digital Media, which had become a passion in my life. I started applying for jobs, and put my resume into cyberspace. Got offered many film and music related internships, but the only jobs offered for real money? Management-position tech support or Web stuff. During the interviews, I found out that they didn’t care at all what my degree was in - they only wanted someone with a college degree (to satisfy HR requirements) and the Microsoft, CompTIA, and/or A+ certifications and job history to be able to actually know what their employees were doing.
Many companies have given up the idea that an MBA with only enough computer knowledge to open his email account could successfully manage an IT department. They want the degree only because getting a degree satisfies HR and proves you’ve managed to get a degree. If you’re willing to take the salary they’d offer to a degreed 20-something, there are plenty of jobs. If you’re an older woman or minority? Even more jobs, especially in corporate IT departments.**
Now, the age discrimination you’ll get on the job is another story…

*mostly drafting and math
**something about equal opportunity laws


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