Digging Deeper: Age Discrimination for Women
If you can remember gas rationing, or seeing the original Star Wars six times in the summer of ‘77, chances are good you’re “of a certain age.”
If you’re also a woman currently looking for a job, economists say there’s a pretty good chance you’re experiencing hiring discrimination.
According to a recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), there is robust evidence (based on over 40,000 job applications!) of age discrimination in hiring against older women. And another study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that since the Great Recession ended, older women are comprising a growing share of the long-term unemployed.
Reputable publications all picked up the story: Washington Post. Bloomberg. Forbes. And yet, despite the coverage, no one seems overly concerned with the why. The NBER study offered two reasons: discrimination laws may not do enough to protect older women facing age and sex discrimination, and the natural changes in physical appearance associated with aging may matter more for women than men. Okay. Maybe. But, if we’re going to effect change, it helps to understand the root cause.
What is it about older females?
Kudos to the team at PBS Newshour, who recently came to JVS to ask for our help in better understanding the plight of the older female job seeker. For their piece, “Women Over 50: Help Not Wanted,” we gathered a panel of women between the ages of 50 and 65 to hear their thoughts on why companies discriminate against 50+ women. Their theories about what hiring managers think and assume were astounding:
- She can’t pick up new technology. (I believe there are assessments for that.)
- She won’t “fit in” with foosball and beer pong. (Actually, my mom was always the ping pong champion at my house.)
- She might be too opinionated. (So, what you want is someone without a voice?)
- She won’t work hard. (Actually, she’ll work really hard, but without a show.)
At JVS, we coach older female job seekers with proven strategies to combat stereotypes, be it age- or gender-related, in the hiring process. Next week, we’ll share some of the best advice from our team, and we’d love to hear what you think works.
What do you believe about why hiring managers discriminate against older women? What should companies do to stop themselves? What are we missing?
- Thwart Off Those “Old” Stereotypes - Friday, January 29, 2016
- Digging Deeper: Age Discrimination for Women - Friday, January 22, 2016
- Until everyone is working - Thursday, November 6, 2014
Hi, this is exactly where I am now. I am 58. Although I have been lucky in that I don’t look my age, there is no denying I am not in my 20s or 30s anymore. A couple of years ago, I was “phased out” of my company. I had been there 10 years and had received many performance awards over that time. I think it may also have to do with reaching a certain salary ceiling also. They started hiring a number of twenty somethings, so I’m guessing they didn’t want to pay my salary anymore.
One challenge is that I have so much great experience on my resume, but I would need to remove it because the timing really dates me. Relevant experience for my job search now. Removing it would lessen my chances of being called by recruiters.
We also need to be educated in all the industry lingo, news and where to go to stay abreast. We need to be able to talk the talk with the younger hiring managers to compete.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Tamara! We have a great event coming up that I think you may be interested in. It’s a talk on the changing world of work where Elizabeth White, author of Fifty-Five, Unemployed and Faking Normal, shares her story on how she hit a wall at 55. She’ll share tools and strategies that boomers can utilize to make peace with changed circumstances, overcome financial hardship and achieve a more inner-directed and satisfying life. You can learn more and register here.