Ageism in the Working World: Being a Young Woman in Business
From a part-time retail and hospitality jobs, to progressing into more senior and managerial roles, to taking on freelance work and becoming your own boss, at any stage in a young woman's career, she encounters discrimination on every end of the scale I've been thinking about writing about this issue of ageism in the working world for a while now, so here it is, my honest views about the way young people, and females in particular, are treated when building their career, and how it can have huge impacts down the line.
I'm 21. But sometimes I feel like I'm actually 41 on the the inside. I'm not a non-stop party-goer, I'm in a long-term, live-in relationship and I can't wait to get university over with so I can work full time. As far back as I can remember, I've resented being young and couldn't wait to be a 'proper adult' and make my own money. My life might sound boring as hell, but I still love it, and I still go out of my way to make the most of this exciting time, having as much fun and working as damn hard as possible. My adolescence was a shit show, no holds barred, so my twenties are a time when I'm charging head-on at what I want from life.
Confident as I try to be with my choices, there are people who have made me doubt them. From those first few years woking in minimum wage retail jobs where I worked twice as hard as the other staff combined but got paid half as much, to getting told I am wasting my youth by getting stressed out by work, to being resented by my peers for prioritising my career, and of course avoiding taking about my age and the lifestyle I have related to that so people in the wider industry don't assume a lack of experience, intelligence or insight.
The way I have felt about the (albeit minor) issue of agesim in the workplace ultimately led to me to Facebook and Twitter, undisputed online homes for great intellectual debate... It turns out that I'm not the only one who feels like this. Search for the term 'reverse ageism' and it's surprising how much this term is tossed around. I landed on a couple of interesting articles on pop culture and career sites, and also an academic paper from a HR journal called 'Too old or too young? The impact of perceived age discrimination'
Usually youth is valued, put on a pedestal. And it does continue to be; hell, the younger a person is when they acheive something great, the more people will take notice; however I do believe this becomes a form of discrimination here in relation to a lack of respect, and very often- a lower salary. With age comes experience, sure, but is it the right kind of experience? Is it the right skill set? Is it the right attitude? I am really interested to hear other people's thoughts on this issue- have you experience agesim on any end of the scale in your workplace?
Tunic: House of Sunny Earrings: H&M Trousers: Barnardos, originally Zara Sunglasses: IOLLA Shoes: Tods
Photography by Ellie Morag