If you’re a woman of “a certain age,” you’re no doubt aware that there’s a societal double standard when it comes to age and gender. Men get older and are seen as distinguished-looking and seem wise. Women just get older.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in — although some professions, like acting, suffer from the issue worse than others. Age is an inescapable fact for everyone — but women seem to suffer significantly more discrimination than men in the workplace over it.
Even though age discrimination is illegal, it’s hard to prove in practice. Does that leave women with any ability to insulate themselves from a company’s attempts to shuffle them out the door once they’re older? Experts recommend that they take these steps:
Keep your rights in mind
The more you understand your rights, the more conscious you may be of acts that smack of discrimination. That knowledge can also give you the incentive and authority you need to stand up for yourself and negotiate a little.
You’ll be more valuable and secure in your position if you constantly work to adapt yourself to changes in the workplace. Keep up with technological changes, in particular. Nothing makes someone (male or female) seem outdated faster than an inability to use the software and hardware that’s everywhere in the workplace these days. If you work in an office, for example, consider taking a few courses or using an online tutorial to update your computer and social media skills.
Network up and down
Learn to develop relationships with co-workers and others in your industry of all ages — both those older and younger than yourself. You’ll stay more visible and be more in touch with what’s happening in all spheres. That also puts you in a better position to become indispensable.
If all else fails and you feel like you’re being forced out due age discrimination, you do have legal options. It may be possible to file a lawsuit or negotiate a better severance package if that’s preferable.
Source: Forbes, “Age Discrimination And Women In The Workplace: How To Avoid Getting Pushed Out,” Bonnie Marcus, May 11, 2018