My experience has been that as I have gotten older, it seems I am getting more and more invisible to the corporate leadership, while the aging men seem to get more power and respect. As has long been the case, a man’s wrinkles and gray hair are signs of distinction; in a woman, they often are treated with disdain. What are we older women professionals to do?
– Beth H.
You can’t stop progress: all the studies show that women’s leadership, compared with men’s, makes a hugely positive impact on the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet & Profit. But what is important about now and going forward is that there are more of us women, especially older women, in positions of power as leaders, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. Plus now in the 4th wave of the women’s movement (aka, feminism) we have more self and collective agency and authority than ever before. No longer in the shadows, unseen, unheard. Our sovereignty is not for sale nor will it be relinquished!
Yet, as it has been for generations long before us, when we combine ageism and sexism—or ageism and, God forbid, misogyny—they are merged together in a molotov-like explosive potion, wreaking havoc on women’s careers, stifling their aspirations, and messing with their lives in general. Gendered ageism seeps its way into many areas of our lives.
Women suffer more than men when it comes to ageism and stereotyping, as societally women are considered more invisible, more irrelevant, inconsequential, etc., as they age. This is an important conversation to pursue because the reality is that women are the leaders of the future.Women are moving us into a whole new paradigm shift because women do mean business…Big Business!
Women consumers are the ones that are doing the buying and also are in the workforce bringing in their own money. They are now in more and more positions of leadership and we know from tons of research that women in leadership positions are making a humongous difference to the bottom line, as well as to the culture itself.
Bottom line: All women—with older women leading the way—mean bigger business, so the workplace and marketplace have got to catch up to serving these women, not only as consumers, but as employees and as leaders of the future themselves. Each of us cannot let ourselves be considered irrelevant or over-the-hill at any age or stage. That takes us standing up, standing out, and stepping forward and not worrying about making waves, realizing that this is the time for women to lead. It’s our time to Rock Our AGE!℠
So again, this means women professionals must keep on keepin’ on! It’s our time to step forward into our own feminine leadership shoes—be they old or newbies. I encourage you to be more of who you are meant to be in every realm at every age. Rest assured both women and the men in our lives have everything to gain when we show up!
How are you addressing gendered ageism in your communities and workplaces?