Contributed by National Highway
6/04/2022 - Look Fabulous Forever
The founder of Look Fabulous Forever, Tricia Cusden, has spoken to her network about the discrimination older women face at work and offered her advice on how to navigate the workplace.
The key issues that came up from the 21 people interviewed were:
One of the interviewees, a senior Human Resources Manager, believes that she encounters ageism in recruiting managers who refuse to interview anyone who is (presumed to be) around 60 years of age. “They assume that older people are plodders, slow, winding down to retirement. They think that they’d find the work too much and wouldn’t fit in with the team. They also presume that every older worker is the same – computer illiterate and slow.”
If you’re finding it hard to get a role, there are some strategies to help you stand out in the workplace:
Holding onto a job
Many older women have also had issues where their seniors have asked if they are considering retirement, even if they are in their 50s with no plans to retire. A senior teacher recalled a situation she faced:
“The new headteacher (female) started to make the older staff feel ‘vulnerable’ in their employment. I was one of the ones she was trying to ‘replace’. In our one-to-one meetings, she once asked me about retirement… when I was 59! She began to undermine my role and even told me that my senior position was ‘not permanent’. I involved my union at that point because my position was permanent.”
If you feel like you’re being pushed out of your job, then there are key things you can do to protect yourself:
An NHS nurse with 41 years of experience who now works in community infection control has had to endure comments that she couldn’t be compared to a much younger team member ‘because her computer skills were not as good’ (an irrelevance for her job) and that she was ‘keeping a younger person out of a job.’
Many older people have dealt with comparisons to the younger people they work with, which are often not positive.
If you are facing comparisons at work, you can:
Subtle ageism disguised as “banter”
Subtle ageism has been noticeable to some older people in the positive comments given to younger staff who were ‘refreshing’ and ‘enthusiastic’, whilst there was no such encouragement to older staff. Other people interviewed had also been hurt by “jokes” that make fun of people’s age.
To deal with the so-called, “banter”, you can:
If you’re feeling the pressure of working as an older woman, you’re not alone. There are resources and groups you can reach out to for help and advice, such as Look Fabulous Forever’s Facebook group, Tricia’s Super Troopers, and other networks.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme was “Break the Bias”, which we all can do by working together and supporting each other.
You can find more information and future stories from older women in the workplace here – https://www.lookfabulousforever.com/blog/challenging-ageism/breaking-the-age-bias
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