Article by Ceri Wheeldon
I realise that the image that I have chosen is a bit extreme – but with all the changes in pension legislation, and with women in Europe on average accumulating 40% less pension than their male counterparts – it is quite possible that some of us will never be able to retire !
So, can we be open about our age at work – and does it make a difference as to whether we are employed or self-employed?
I took part in a discussion yesterday on the topic of the impact of the menopause on women in the workplace. It was suggested that if women in senior positions in corporates would be open to being interviewed on this topic, and those interviews made public, then a better understanding could be reached as part of the process of educating employers.
But it struck me as I was on my way home that women in senior roles may be reluctant to do so.
In our ‘Fab Women’ section of the website I have interviewed many women, all over 50, who have been happy to chat through their experience of setting up businesses, writing books etc, but when I have approached women with interesting roles in the corporate role to do so there has been a reluctance to do so. One even admitted that she did not want her age to be made public, as she felt it would negatively affect her career options. Her colleagues did not know her age, and she did not want them to know.
Does age discrimination at work still exist?
I know that many women over 50 who set up their own businesses do so following redundancy, feeling that age discrimination does still exist in the recruitment process, even though there is legislation in place to prevent this.
But while those who have set up a business are happy to share their stories, challenges and show pride in their achievements and their age- it seems that some of those who are employed may still feel a vulnerability in the workplace when it comes to being over 50.
While Hollywood now embraces actresses over 50 ( just look at this year’s Oscars) , and actresses no longer have to lie about their age, is there still pressure in the corporate world for women to give the impression that they are younger than they are?
Since I started Fab after Fifty some eight years ago, I have seen incredible progress in terms of perceptions regarding women over 50, but when I realise that some women still haveto hide their age in order to thrive (or survive) in the workplace I do wonder just how much progress we have actually made.
I would love your thoughts on this one. Have you felt pressured to lie (or hide) your age at work?