Older women face discrimination in job hunt

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Despite the fact that women need to work into their 60s to receive a state pension, many who look for new jobs after the age of 50 say it’s harder to find work.

A recent Newshour report on the US’s Public Broadcasting System interviewed several women who had lost their jobs during the recession and each of them revealed they feel they’re being discriminated against because of their age.

Patricia Wilson, a legal assistant, says she was told during an interview that the other employees at the organisation were “very young” and they were concerned she was overqualified for the job. “I just felt they didn’t think I would fit in with the younger group,” she says.

The programme’s economics correspondent Paul Solomon then interviewed a panel of women aged 50 and above, all of whom have struggled to find work since 2008.

Cynthia Josayma says: “When the recession started, my age community all lost their jobs. They have found out, in general, that the middle-aged woman is marginalised.”

Dana Michaels comments that she has interviewed at companies that boast ping-pong tables, ‘beer Fridays’ and even ‘nap Thursdays’. “I was at least double their age and I’m sure they looked at me thinking ‘this old lady’s not going to fit in’.”

Denise Carrillo, who lost her fashion industry job in 2007 and hasn’t been able to find a job since, says she has definitely been discriminated against. “The experience was there and my confidence was there. The compliments rolled, but I was older.”

She moved out of New York City in the hopes of finding more jobs that wouldn’t take her age into account, but she has not had a response from applications in two years.

Economist David Neumark conducted a field study in which he sent out fake CVs, all of the identical except for the names – some of which were women and some men – and the ages, which ranged between 30 to mid-60s. The younger age group was most likely to get a call back among both men and women, but Neumark noted that the older women were the least likely to be contacted.

Another economist, Joanna Lahey, conducted a similar experiment in a controlled eye-scanning lab. Managers looked longer at younger CVs and paid particular attention to sections that indicated age. She found that discrimination actually starts at 35 and gets progressively worse the older the person gets.

In other news, the European Menopause and Andropause Society is urging businesses to take steps to ease the symptoms of menopause for older women.

Watch the full video and read the transcript at to.pbs.org/1SmevuC

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson