But age is a much more serious issue in the workplace, where sexism and ageism appear to be rife. (I say appear to be because it’s a long time since I was in a workplace so I can’t speak from experience). Older women – whatever that means, over 50? – who are employed feel less respected and fear being nudged out. And I know from the experience of 50something friends that it’s extremely hard to get a job, any job, at that stage of life.
When I shared a post on my Work from Home Wisdom Facebook page about entrepreneurs over 50, a reader commented, ‘In my area of expertise (marketing/copywriting) I wouldn’t even consider applying for a job in an agency, for example. They wouldn’t imagine that I could be ‘hip’ enough to understand the zeitgeist.’
If you doubt the existence of ageism, try looking for stock photos of a woman between twentysomething and ancient. A friend and I trawling through thousands of photos on different sites came up with less than 10, one of which I’ve already used in my post about Perennials, the ‘ageless generation’.
I look at this from the perspective of the so-called ‘older woman’, but it may well apply to men too, and younger people can also be sensitive about revealing their age. They fear that their competence and success at work might be undermined if their colleagues and clients know how old (young) they are and their age becomes the main focus.
Dr Christiane Northrup, an expert on women’s health, recommends you never reveal your age, and for a very compelling reason. ‘Our idea of what age should look like programmes our biology in a profound way that has been studied scientifically. When you hang out with people who don’t think about their age all the parameters of health improve.’
In other words, if people are no longer judging you for what is ‘good’,‘bad’ or ‘appropriate’ for a particular age, and you get out of the habit of attributing physical problems and mental performance to your age, you will feel, look and be younger.
Which fits with a TV programme I recall in which 80somethings turned up limping and complaining about aches and pains, but after a period of living with younger people were much more active and positive.
Dr Northrup suggests you stop celebrating milestone birthdays and celebrate meaningful achievements instead. Now that’s a thought, and would bring us as close as we can get to being Perennial.
Are you reluctant to reveal your age? How does increasing age affect your experience and opportunities? I’m interested to find out more.