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Susan told me in confidence that she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night in a panic. The fear that someone will discover her age consumes her. At 62, she uses Botox and filler to hide the s of aging and takes her birthday off from work each year to avoid being asked the question of how old she is.
Susan is an executive in the fashion industry. Looks matter.
Age matters. And women over 50 in the workplace today are victimized by this bias. We all know what sexism is.style rules over 50 women should break - style over 50
Men are promoted faster. Men get paid more. Men still occupy most of the leadership and board positions. And as women over 50 in the workplace, we feel the pressure to remain young and attractive to stay employed. We sense our once sought after opinions overlooked, our work load given away, as we experience younger workers being promoted around us.
We feel marginalized and diminished and are terrified of losing our jobs, knowing full well the challenges we would face getting a new job at our age. Research shows that as men age they are viewed more valuable and competent in the workplace. Women lose their credibility with every new wrinkle. The double whammy hits as we begin to show any visible s of aging. Fearful because they feel they have a target on their backs as they wait to get the dreaded pink slip.
Your colleagues and managers are most likely making assumptions about you at this stage in your career. The general consensus is that older employees, especially women, no longer have the interest or stamina to work. However, in her book, Grit, author Angela Duckworth, addresses how grit actually increases with age. Data from a large sample of American adults shows that ambition begins to increase after age 55 and peaks after Their motivation is not always financial.
They realize they have a lot to contribute and they want to continue to be productive. Prove them wrong! My recommendation is to have a face-to-face conversation with your manager so there is no misunderstanding. Work together to create a career path for the next few years.
Cultivate Your Growth Mindset.
One commonly held assumption is that as people age, they become more fixed in their mindset and, therefore, more likely to have strong inflexible opinions and ideas. In a growth mindsetpeople believe that their most basic abilities can be further developed through dedication and hard work; that their brains and talent are just the starting point.
This view creates a love of learning and a positive attitude that are essential for great accomplishment. What does this look like in the workplace? One way to demonstrate your growth mindset is to clearly state your opinion in meetings without automatically disregarding ideas from your colleagues.
Request training or reimbursement for courses to learn new skills pertinent to your job. Give honest feedback to your colleagues and be open to receiving constructive criticism to support your ongoing learning. A growth mindset supports your ongoing success. If your company offers training take advantage of it. If not, get approval to take some courses on your own.
What courses are relevant to expand your skill set at work? Ask your manager for suggestions. What new skills are you interested in outside of work? Perhaps learning a new language or playing a musical instrument. Try something new. Remember that the brain, like a muscle, continues to develop especially when stimulated by physical exercise. So exercise your brain. Serving as a mentor is a great way to stay in the game, build relationships and visibility across generations, and add value.
If your company has a formal mentor program, get involved and volunteer as a mentor. The relationship can be formal or informal where you serve more as an advisor and role model. Get the word out to your manager and others in the organization that you would welcome a mentor opportunity. This serves many purposes. You gain visibility for the value you offer and you build relationships with younger employees from whom you can learn a lot as well.
Think about what skills and experiences might be valuable to share with others. Make a list of potential topics and ask for feedback from younger colleagues, your supervisor, or Human Resources. Think first and foremost about how you can add value because of your expertise and then who would benefit most from learning more about it.
What else can you do? We need to pay attention to all of this. Because at the end of the day, as we age as women, our performance counts but so does a youthful and attractive appearance. Bonnie Marcus, M. Ed, CEC, empowers women of all ages to own their ambition and talent. She is currently working on her second book about the challenges women over 50 face in the workplace and what they can do to survive and thrive. I'm an executive coach, author, and international speaker with a passion for helping professional women gain the visibility and credibility they need to have a fulfilling.
I'm an executive coach, author, and international speaker with a passion for helping professional women gain the visibility and credibility they need to have a fulfilling career. I work with high achieving women in corporate settings who want to move up and assume leadership positions I help them navigate the workplace politics and get the promotions they deserve. This is a BETA experience. You may opt-out by clicking here. More From Forbes. Oct 16,pm EDT. Oct 16,am EDT. Oct 15,am EDT. Oct 14,pm EDT. Edit Story. Jan 17,pm EST.
Bonnie Marcus Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Getty: Royalty free Getty. Bonnie Marcus. I'm an executive coach, author, and international speaker with a passion for helping professional women gain the visibility and credibility they need to have a fulfilling …. Read Less.Any 50 women out there
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Are there more men or more women in the world?