Women have long struggled with workplace barriers, and the march toward true equality is ongoing. Now, researchers say that workplace protections against discrimination won’t really be effective until older women are treated as their own distinct class.
Why is that necessary? Because women often get a double dose of discrimination in the workplace that combines ageism with gender biases — and they’re not clearly protected when that happens. The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) addresses gender discrimination, while age discrimination is prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). The two laws don’t intersect.
In essence, that forces women who experience ageism related to their gender to bring a lawsuit based on one or the other — not both. For women, this often comes in the form of discrimination based on their appearance. Women “of a certain age” may find their opportunities limited in ways that men of a similar age do not.
Gendered beauty standards tied to youthfulness tend to affect women at a younger age than men, and women may be more adversely affected. In large part, American culture regards men who show their age as “mature,” while a woman who does the same is just seen as “old.”
Researchers suggest that providing older women with specific protections may be essential when it comes to protecting the nation’s economy. There’s a growing shortage of human talent in many fields, and women over 55 years of age could fill that gap — if they’re allowed to do so.
Discrimination in the workplace happens more often than most people realize. If you believe that it has happened to you, find out how an attorney can help.