Updated: Jun 1, 2021
If you want to stay on good terms with your female colleagues, here's a tip. Refrain from asking them when they plan to retire. Ever since I turned 60 both as a school superintendent and now working as a university professor, I can't count the number of times that someone has asked me when I'm leaving. And it gets worse; now the neighbor's are beginning to ask.
As women, we are used to gender bias. We have gotten used to men gaining top leadership positions despite our credentials and performance. But now we have to face aging in a workplace that often values youth and beauty. When asked, How many years do you have left ... or I bet retirement would feel good right now.. we feel marginalized and diminished.
According to Forbes Women, men experience ageism as well, but here’s the big difference. Research shows that as men age they are viewed more valuable and competent in the workplace. Women lose their credibility with every new wrinkle. The double whammy hits as we begin to show any visible signs of aging. *
In my studies, I've interviewed hundreds of women over 60, and the majority are still ambitious and don't want to retire. They don't always work for the money. Many reveal that they work to use their hard-earned skills and experiences and realize they still have a lot left to contribute to the world and want to be productive.
So the next time you think about asking your colleague How many years you got left .. consider flipping it and share how much you value their presence in the workplace.
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