The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age. That does not stop some humans - if you can call them that - publicly having their negative say about old or middle aged (in particular) women.
As I approach a significant birthday, I am becoming acutely aware of what many other women have reported before me. In the middle of a productive, rewarding and also contributing phase of my career, I have encountered prejudices from people who should know better.
For instance, while training up younger teachers in the use of digital technology for learning in the classroom, I have been reduced to biting my tongue about comments made by said teachers about the old ones on the staff who don't use technology, when they, themselves, are barely capable of attaching files to their emails. They seem to ignore the fact that I am approaching sixty when they say these things.
Over the weekend I was exposed ( and I use that word deliberately) to a comment from a tutor about principals who are too old to focus on the technology demands placed on them. Believe me, it is not about their age! If a principal has chosen to ignore technological advancements in favour of other principal- type tasks, it is about their attitude and priorities, NOT their age.
I also get ignored in electronics shops, in favour of young customers. I waited for a sales person to approach me this week, so I could buy an Apple TV. At least 5 walked by me to serve other younger people in the shop..... buying itunes cards, and plug in Multiboards. Hello, all you electronics shop managers out there....I am in the position of influencing large electronic purchases. Train your staff! Train them to approach all people in your shops with the same amount of respect for all. You never know, you might get a sale out of it.
And on a slightly different but eerily familiar theme, what is it about criticising the fashion sense of overweight middle aged women? When do these fashion police get out and criticise overweight middle aged men for their baggy bummed pants and ill-fitting teeshirts or bursting-at-the-waist business shirts? NEVER! I feel so aggrieved I am going to start a club to put the focus onto an equal footing. Except it really is not for me to carp on about fashion sense and other qualities that seem to be important to a large portion of the population and maybe that is why they get away with it. Because people let them.
And finally today, we need to appoint a male principal. Why? Is he better than the female applicant? No, but it is what the community want. Really? OMG get that poor female out of there before she gets trapped in that community.
So as I enjoy the last couple of months of the fifties, I would like to know this ageism-sexism thing is not going to get worse than it is already. No wonder women lie about their age. No one want to be treated like a second class citizen.
Have you encountered ageism and sexism in your career? And how did you deal with it?
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Image from clevelandseniors.com