Friday, 15 April 2016

Is There Such A Thing As 'Shelf-Life'' For Women in Work?

You may read this and think this is a total provocation, but I tell you this: the more I hear women in their 50's talking about how difficult it is to change jobs or return to work, the more I believe this is not provocation, it is reality!

You only need look at the number of LinkedIn conversations that are going on about the subject. I quote: Are women over 50 irrelevant? Women over 50, is there still time to be successful? Women over 50 - finding your passion? And the list could go on.

There is, it appears, an incredible amount of experienced and talented women in their 50's who are apparently experiencing unsurmountable blocks when it comes to finding a job, starting over or changing careers.  Why is this the case?

As I have argued in earlier blogs,  women in their 50's are probably at their best, both personally and professionally. Professional services firm PwC's report that I have quoted in a previous piece run an extensive piece of research that actually proved the attributes required to manage a transformation change are not the same competencies as those exhibited by leaders who cope well with day-to-day issues, or even by those who excel in a crisis.’  Most importantly, the research found that those possessing these qualities were mostly WOMEN OVER 50 years of age !

But while it dos not take long to understand why they might be the case (in case you think it is, then please read the blog I wrote at that time as it will provide you with plenty of reasons!) it seems the concept really is not quite sinking in with employers.

Could you imagine a blog entitled : Are MEN over 50 irrelevant?
Could you imagine a man over 50 saying that they encounter issues to do with being more experienced than the interviewer expected?

Yet this is the case with the lady above who says in her blog  "I am a highly experienced marketing professional and have not been able to get interviews, despite resume revisions, LinkedIn coaching, personal coaching and shortening my work experience on paper. When I do get interviews, I am obviously older than the person expected. I've been told that 'my resume is too long', that 'they only want someone with <5 years experience', etc.[...]"

What really strikes me is not just what she says but the amount of comments and supportive responses she achieved.

So I am now beginning to think that if a man is over 50, he is considered highly experienced and full of wisdom; but in the case of a woman, she is simply too old!
But too old for what? To work hard? To understand the industry?  To stay ahead of the game? To grace the workplace with their feminine presence? And why should all that be any different according to your gender?

So you see, I really do not have an answer for this, except to say that there undoubtedly is an underlining bias which in my humble opinion is made worse by some kind of stereotype about what a woman should like and when a woman is at most welcome in the workplace.

But I would love to hear your opinion and find out about your experience. Please feedback your comments and opinions, they are greatly appreciated!

 Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

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