I read an article on LinkedIn by Lesley Jane Seymour about ageism in the workplace that made me want to expand a little bit on this:
I am almost sixty too, just like Ms Seymour. I returned to work in 1994 at the age of nearly 37 after staying at home to look after my boys. I chopped and changed jobs in the next few years without any problems, until I found the one that suited me the most – a medical secretary in my local NHS hospital.
The NHS took me on at the age of 44, after I voluntarily left my previous job. I was promoted over the years and gained experience in several departments until I took early retirement in 2014 due to side-effects of treatment for thyroid cancer. I eventually ended up 2 grades higher than when I started. Probably about 90% of the secretaries there were ladies in their fifties – free of childminding duties and willing and able to start at 8am and work past 3pm. I can actually say that I never came across ageism when I was a medical secretary at all. Even now my ex-manager often sends me emails and asks if I would like to return to work as a bank secretary to cover for holidays and sickness.
The NHS put up with my frequent hospital appointments when I was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and my colleagues always welcomed me back after time off due to major surgery. I cannot fault the NHS at all as an employer. I now receive a pension. I know that some people in their fifties do experience ageism in the workplace, but I just wanted to write about the other side of it.
When I went for one particular interview just before I returned to work in 1994, I was told that the company never takes on women of childbearing age. It did cross my mind to wonder why they had invited me for an interview in the first place, but I’ve since learned that companies do have to interview a range of prospective employees to make their documentation look good. I actually found it more difficult to get that first job when I was of childbearing age and after 12 years at home. The older I became, the more easily I was able to find employment.
I can actually say that I’ve never experienced ageism at work, but was definitely discriminated against in my childbearing years a few times in the 3 years it took me to find a job and return to the workplace.
Have you experienced ageism in the workplace? I’d love to read your comments!