Why do women appear to bear the brunt of ageism at work?
“As soon as women show any visible signs of ageing, they are viewed as not only less attractive, but less competent,” says 72-year-old Bonnie Marcus.
The founder of Bonnie Marcus Leadership in Santa Barbara, California, she coaches women on how to advance their careers and hosts the podcast Badass Women at Any Age. She argues that as women get older, they face the double whammy of sexism and ageism.
Tricia Cusden is the founder of Look Fabulous Forever, a make-up range for older women. “I’m 72 and I’m working as hard as I’ve ever worked,” she says. “In fact, my age is the biggest benefit. It’s my biggest asset,” she adds emphatically.
Tricia gave up her job as a consultant trainer in the corporate world in her mid-60s to look after her sick granddaughter. But when she got better and Tricia wasn’t needed anymore, she felt lost.
“I was very low and I felt very directionless. I didn’t have a life to go back to. And I thought I could live for another 30 years.”
The UN says the number of people over the age of 65 is growing faster than any other age group. It is expected to double in the next 30 years, while the number of people over 80 is projected to triple.
But as the workforce gets older, ageism is also becoming more of an issue. Statistics from charity Age UK show that ageism is the most common type of discrimination in Europe – and it is women who are bearing the brunt of it.
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