www.forbes.comDo Professional Women Over 50 Have An Expiration Date? How Gendered Ageism Sabotages Women’s Careers
The expiration date for women may be unconscious and unintentional, but it is a reality that professional women face as they age in the workforce.
Women encounter many workplace disparities and ageism is just one of them. It is disheartening to hear about this being so prominent in the workplace and I can relate this to LIU's staff. I have seen two times as many older male professors than older female professors. There is a nexus with being too old and too young as well. If a woman is too young, she is seen as a worker that will eventually get pregnant and leave the company for an extended period of time, while if a man is young, companies would see him as an eager and valuable asset to the team. The stigma that women lose their working capabilities once grey hair and wrinkles set in is disappointing to say the least. Experience is needed in every field, whether that be experience in a particular career or in life.
It is very sad to think that in addition to struggles that women face, they also have to deal with ageism and not in a way that I would expect. Before reading this article this is not something that I would initially think about. I've noticed, as Alexandra has written, that there are a lot more older male professors than older female professors. I think a way to change this is by changing the negative connotations that older working women may have. This can be done by encouraging older women to go into their desired work fields. I feel that after a certain age if a woman doesn't achieve a certain career goal they may have they are discouraged from working towards that goal. If more women were encouraged to work towards those goals, I feel that there would be more older working women in professional settings, and from there this idea of ageism towards older women would o longer be a thing.
I see this even at my experience at LIU, there are many more older male professors who are given more respect from the students than the older female professors I have had. I think it because maybe we hate to admit it but society cares about how women look in a professional setting, even in school the dress code was aimed at the girls to look a certain way that was "appropriate". There are jobs that pressure women to dress a certain way. ex: business, business casual-- you must have your hair neat, heels, and face made up. Everyone is currently aging there is no way to avoid that no matter how many surgeries to cover the process. I understand when employer want fresh faces straight from college to represent their company but maybe they should just want fresh ideas instead
Gendered ageism is usually something women encounter within their workplaces. Such as when a women is a manager somewhere and some men won't take them as seriously as they would if it were a man. This also goes for promotions, if an employee sees a male and female in the same position they are most likely to lean towards the male in the position because they view them as more dominant. Also as women get older the are deemed to be less powerful in a higher position. A company is more likely to favor a younger women opposed to an older woman. But also hiring younger women leaves the company with a chance of leaving just in case of being pregnant.
Gendered ageism, undoubtably concerns women way more than men. Women are always held to a higher beauty standard whether it is in the makeup, model, entertainment industry or other work environments. It is sickening to have read that women will go and inject themselves with fillers or get botox in order to look younger. All because of the ridiculous stereotype that women do not perform as well with more wrinkles and grey hair. Ageing is bound to happen to ever human and should not be yet another reason to use against women's ability to work. To put an end to this issue, we can begin by targeting this stereotype of older women not being good at their job. Number one, they have more experience when they are older and number two, physical beauty has no correction to job performance. By educating all work environments with these facts, people will hopefully better understand that the beauty ideals placed upon women are difficult to keep up and affect their lives socially, mentally and physically. We can attack this issue in popular magazines, newspapers, movies, commercials, etc. As more people see this perspective, they will begin to alter theirs. We need to change the way people think and act against women ageing and showing signs of ageing. Women already have so many issues to deal with, and getting older should not be one of them as this is a natural process that all people eventually go through.
It's disheartening to know that many women are scared to show signs of aging in fears that they may lose their jobs. Aging is something that happens to everybody and is completely inevitable. I don't understand why some employers feel as though signs of aging have anything to do with how competent a women is at performing her job. Whether it be in the entertainment industry or in everyday work environments, women are subjected to beauty ideals that often become hard to maintain. There is nothing wrong with wrinkles, frown lines and any other signs of aging. It's all a part of the natural process of life and it's not surprising that women are a prime target of this type of age discrimination. I've seen many cases in the media where older men are often given compliments such as saying "he's aging like fine wine" but oftentimes don't hold the same sentiment for women. It's because women are always expected to look a certain way and these harmful standards are not kept up for men at the same level.
The idea of gendered ageism is quite an odd concept to me because ageing should be a natural process that is accepted however it is still very prevalent. Unfortunately, it is seen amongst women far more often than men. Bonnie Marcus mentions that women will get filler or botox to look younger to avoid getting fired from their jobs. The fact that gender ageism is felt so strongly it will cause women to feel like they have to alter their appearance to stay young and youthful and to change the natural process of life in a way is very sad. Women spend their whole lives in the spotlight of bearing children, taking care of them and then moving into the role of taking care of their own parents. Being natural nurturers age is bound to happen, even if a woman is not a nurturer age is still bound to happen. I am really big on younger generations being knowledgable about being excepting and even now that as you will grow up to accept yourself in your natural beauty regardless of age.
Gendered ageism is a very prevalent issue. Often it is addressed in regards to struggles faced by female actors and entertainers. This problem affects more than just entertainers but women in every field of work. Under the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 discrimination against people 40 and older is prohibited, however according to a 2018 AARP report, “64 percent of women say they’ve been the target of or witnessed age discrimination”. This alone shows that more needs to be done to address prejudice and negative stereotypes about older workers in particular older female workers. One way that could be used to combat ageism is through promoting intergenerational contact. By connecting different ages through mentoring or team building exercises there will be stronger intergenerational connections and cooperation.
It is sad how women are typically thought of as always caring about others, and for that reason are not taken as seriously as men when it comes to work and career. I once read an article that said women under 25 are seen to be not serious about career, women between 25 and 40 are primarily spending their life caring for children and family, and above the age of 40 women are seen to be caring for their parents. This mentality needs to go. Women are just as capable and career-focused as men and the trouble comes from society not realizing this as a whole. To categorize and generalize an entire gender's life by age is very demoralizing. People do not do the same towards men and as a result men feel that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Women feel as if they are forced by society to fit some sort of role and this is unfair.