Home Join the Chat Other people’s issues It’s Complicated

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    Kate Thomas

    We are awesome, us girls!! Wise, smart, fun, hard-working, and the best friends you could want. Yet we face judgements and barriers we are so used to, we barely see some of them. We look in the mirror and we know our worth, we know what skills and talents we have, and the achievements of our lifetimes. But other people see only an older woman.

    Ageism is rife and we must be aware. The more we call it out, the better for us all. According to the Harvard Business Review, women whose children have grown up “raced back into the workforce, only to see their careers stalled by a reduced tolerance for ageing women at work”. We are taken to be less technically savvy, lacking in stamina, and wanting to slow down. Age discrimination is illegal, but the problem is that it’s difficult to prove. And the emotional cost of doing so is great.

    But even in a public place, ageism prevails. Lining up to order your coffee in the busy café… you are overlooked in favour of the young, pert, woman beside you. At the bank, I have personally done some research. I get much more attentive and respectful treatment if I go in my business suit, and do my hair and makeup. This may be true of younger people, too, but I am not convinced. Of course, there are variables, but there is a trend.

    The #metoo movement also applies to us. How many of us have endured sexual harassment or abuse? And how many of us keep it to ourselves, because we think of ourselves as “too old” to worry? If we discuss incidents of harassment occurring now, with friends, both men and women say – “take it as a compliment” – but it’s still uncomfortable and WRONG! And if those doing the harassing are not called out when they do it to us, they will go on and do it to another. In fact, it is often the men of our generation who have ingrained habits that disrespect women. #metoo is applicable to us all, and we must ALL honour it.

    And in our own relationships, it’s vital that we value ourselves. We have a responsibility to lead by example, to show our girls that we respect ourselves and our achievements. We must honour other women of accomplishment – mothers, carers, employees and friends. It’s time we stuck together and went public. Women are the strength in our society and we fill the gaps, often set the ethical standards, and teach our children. Why not be proud?

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