HomeLearning CenterWomen Face Age Bias Whether They Are Young, Middle Age or Older

Women Face Age Bias Whether They Are Young, Middle Age or Older

Originally published by Aliyah Frumin for MSNBC

When we talk about ageism in the workplace, we often view it as a bias that affects older workers.

But a new study, published in Harvard Business Review, shows that women face age bias whether they are young, middle aged or older. And that can impact not only women’s ability to rise the ranks, but the broader economy as well.

“A lot of these women are saying, ‘You know what? I want to work for myself, I want to start my own company because that seems like it’s the better way to go,’” said ForbesWomen editor Maggie McGrath on Friday’s “Morning Joe.”

Researchers spoke to 913 women leaders across four U.S. industries (higher education, faith-based non-profits, law and health care). The women were grouped into three categories: “young” (under 40), “middle aged” (between 40 and 60) and “older” (over 60).

Women under the age of 40 said they were called pet names like “kiddo,” and patted on the head. They also faced a “credibility deficit” where they were not taken seriously. They reported being mistaken for students, interns, trainees, secretaries, paralegals and more.

Meanwhile, women between the ages of 40 and 60 were told they have “too much family responsibility.” Some search committees reportedly declined to hire women in their 50s because of “menopause-related issues” that “could be challenging to manage.”

And women who were age 60 and beyond expressed feeling “discounted” and “irrelevant.” One physician told researchers that “while men become wells of wisdom as they age, older women are seen as outdated, harpy, strident,” one physician noted. “Our voices are discounted.”

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