It seems that a new survey suggests that 75% of women believe that just looking 40 finishes their career, and that any career advancement can be forgotten over the age of 51.
With most of us now expected to work until we are nearly 70, it is a significant issue if women believe that they are written off in the workplace before they are even half-way through their working lives.
I can say from personal experience that I experienced my greatest career success (as a headhunter) well over the age of 40 – my experience and market knowledge was considered and asset- how young I may or may not have looked was irrelevant!
Ageism in the media
Much is made of ageism in the media – certainly in the Mailonline’s view of this survey, they are quick to use Arlene Phillips being replaced by Alesha Dixon on Strictly as proof of ageism – but in my own interview with Arlene Phillips she was keen to point out that she was in her 50s when first given the opportunity to appear on Strictly, hence raising her public profile and adding a new dimension to her career.
I accept that we need to change attitudes in the workplace, but women have to change their own attitudes too. We have far more to offer employers than the way we look. We need to focus on continuing to develop our skills so that we can be seen to be adding value in the workplace. Our life experience and working abilities should be of more interest and value to an employer than the colour of our hair or the number of wrinkles around our eyes! We need to be confident in our own abilities if we want to change attitudes towards an ageing workforce- and attitudes will have to change as the population continues to age.
Women in their 40s and 50s make great employees. We have many attributes most companies would value. But women need to believe in themselves first and foremost.
We need more role models to come forward and talk about their successes in mid and later life so that other women can take inspiration and see that careers do not need to end as you enter a new decade – in fact it is possible to start and succeed in second and third careers- as many of the women profled in our Fabwomen features have shown.
Finished over 40? Absolutely not!! And the country cannot afford for us to be. Our skills and experience are much needed!