Women have a lot to contend with, even after having fought for many rights over the years. Juggling careers and family, becoming skilled in areas which used to be dominated by men, but it seems there’s one stumbling block that is becoming more of an issue, and that’s ageism – especially towards women in their forties and fifties.
Long gone are the days when you had a job for life and now people might have several careers as they choose to try new things, expand their skillsets and don’t want to get stuck in a rut.
However, it seems changing careers, coming back to work for those who’ve taken years out to raise their children, finding a position after being laid off, is becoming an issue. In a recent survey conducted by Forbes magazine, 80% of respondents said they experienced some form of gendered ageism, with 33% of those surveyed saying they couldn’t even get an interview because of their age.
I certainly know my mother experienced this and I myself am currently having this struggle, we also see groups filled with highly skilled women all searching for positions. So why is this happening? You’d think employers would be bending over backwards for people with years of experience, excellent skillsets, the capability to learn new things, plus the added bonus of life experience. The sad fact of the matter is, that ‘lookism’, yes that’s a new word that’s being bantered about is taking precedent, putting huge pressure on women to appear youthful.
Also, we come up against that wonderful excuse ‘you’re overqualified’, so that employers don’t have to pay as much for someone who is less skilled. But many women would be happy just to get back into the workplace, or be given the opportunity to try something new and expand their horizons. There’s a huge misconception that older workers aren’t as productive, which according to research isn’t true at all. In fact, studies have shown that older employees take less sick days, have a stronger work ethic, are more productive and efficient and are better at resolving conflicts. Many companies would argue that they have to spend more time training certain employees in the latest technologies, which isn’t always the case, considering women in these age brackets are Gen Xers who were working at a time before most of today’s tech came into play, so their learning curves have actually been very steep.
This is obviously more of a concern for single women, who might face financial issues and worries about retirement, because they’re simply not being given the opportunities within the job market.
Many women are turning the tide and due to their frustrations at being overlooked, they’re going out on their own becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own businesses. Females over 50 are more successful than ever, because they’ve spent their time learning, gaining experience, honing their skills, they’re more in tune with what they want out of life, they’ve found their focus and want to make a difference.
Men are allowed to ‘age like a fine wine’, however, once a woman shows a wrinkle or two she’s considered past her prime, no matter what her capabilities.
According to UN statistics the number of people over the age of 65, is growing faster than any other age bracket. People are living longer, they don’t want to be forced into retirement anymore and why should they be? So, you have an army of skilled, resourceful, knowledgeable, talented women who are all being overlooked because of their age. Well, at the rate they’re starting their own businesses, they will be the future employers and companies really are missing out on a huge capable work force because of a number.