Ageism takes toll on working women and national productivity
08 Mar 2013
Despite legislation outlawing age and gender related discrimination, a senior researcher at the University of Sydney Business School says that a combination of ageism and sexism continues to act as a barrier to older women who want to work.
In an International Women's Day address Associate Professor Leanne Cutcher said that current attitudes towards life and career cycles still dominate most workplaces and work to exclude older women from the labour market.
Dr Cutcher pointed out that only three per cent of companies listed on the ASX200 are headed by women over the age of 55.
"Age norms dictate appropriate times and ages for particular achievements, roles or transitions in life, such as leaving home, entering the workforce, getting married, becoming a parent and retiring," Dr Cutcher told members of the Older Women's Network. "When people do not conform in line with these age norms they are sanctioned."
Dr Cutcher believes that while ageism also affects men, it is especially corrosive for women who experience age discrimination at a younger age and are seen as 'older' at an earlier age. Dr Cutcher said that efforts by Australian women to hide their age underpin the country's booming cosmetics market.
"Ageism for women begins at 35, and is fully rampant by 50. one would think that, no longer being hampered by periods and the need to seek child care since their children have grown and left, post-menopausal women would actually be an asset in an organisation. Rather, they are "encouraged" to leave, or "up-skill" - and even though the qualifications are there, younger females are more likely to get the job because of the necessity to make a "business case" for an employee who is unlikely to stay long enough with the company due to retirement age being so close. I say this because I lost my job at just over 50 due to lack of qualification (although I had 30 years' experience), I was not granted the possibility to work part-time while up-skilling, and have now been out of work nearly 2 years. The more disadvantaged are those whose husbands' income is sufficiently high to put them out of the range of Centrelink assistance, if only for Health Care Card and/or short term car registration or transport cost discounts while they are studying (because post-grads do not get transport assistance even if they are unemployed). Could give you more examples, but I think you have the picture."
Posted by: L Galliano (17 Mar 2013 3:55pm)