Make room for older women in the job market

    Make room for older women in the job market

    Data recently revealed by the Office of National Statistics has found that unemployment of women over the age of 65 has almost tripled in the last year.

    The ONS has calculated a 193 per cent increase in unemployment of this section of society, in the year to May 2021, despite the increase in the pension age to 66; it’s the first time in five years that the unemployment rate for older women is higher than that of men. The report has quite some resonance at a time when the ONS also revealed that job vacancies now exceed pre-COVID levels (now at 862,000) but older workers seem to be at risk of being overlooked, as age discrimination blights the opportunities particularly for older women.

    The pandemic has been harsher to women than men in many ways, with caring responsibilities weighing heavier on them, and that applies to women of all generations. But now is not the time to cast aside the vast experience gathered by older women who work across all sectors, public and private, at a time when the UK faces a glaring skills shortage. Investing in the future and training young talent is the best way to maintain a robust succession plan, but there is a problem looming now, and if we don’t make room for senior women in the workplace, we are working with one hand behind our back.

     Please don’t call me ‘Granny’

    The media has had its fair share of accusations of ageism; not all that long ago the BBC was forced to defend its position after replacing celebrated 66 year old choreographer Arlene Phillips with 30 year old singer Alesha Dixon on the panel of Strictly Come Dancing, while popular newsreader Moira Stewart was dumped by the Corporation at the age of 57, sparking fury from viewers.

    Rose Rouse, Guardian columnist and author of ‘The Advantage of Age’ has weighed in to the argument recently, lamenting the liberal use of the word ‘Granny’ to describe workers of a certain gender and age. She said: “Every other day you will probably see the word ‘Granny’ used in reference to older women: on the BBC; in broadsheets and tabloids; in the local press; on YouTube and other social media. It’s a veritable granny fest.”

    Rouse started writing in her 50s and soon found that opportunities for freelance writers are hard to come by, particularly when age prejudice becomes part of the picture; and the liberally scattered moniker of ‘Granny’ hasn’t really helped anyone. No-one should be defined or labelled by their reproductive history, particularly in the workplace or by the mainstream media.

    This type of lazy stereotyping particularly irks for a generation of women who have been let down by successive governments which have raised the pension age twice, and they now have to contend with being called ‘Waspi’ women… oh please!

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