Older Women Returning to Work

Blow back from my politically incorrect comment was swift when the local news featured an article about older women, who for economic reasons are returning to the job market. “Older” is defined as women past the AARP age membership requirement.

This particular agency has regurgitated the same past its sell-by date “help” for the past fourteen years; i.e. women should consider dying their hair and ditch jackets with shoulder pads. The agency focused on hair color and appearances without mention of other cause/effect/remedies.

I commented in an online discussion that concealing the gray fools no one as most of us have chicken neck, arm flab and wrinkles. There is just so much a woman can do to mitigate telltale age indicators. Short of wearing a hazmat suit to the interview, there is little chance your age is not going to become obvious if you are a woman. Unless you fell from an alien planet, most job seekers know to show up in business attire.

I must have touched a nerve as the agency representative fired back a rapid response agreeing  about hair color, stating “the goal is to get a job in today’s youth oriented, frequently ageist and sexist society”. There was no mention of educating employers about the value of an older employee’s experience.

I wondered, what is an older woman, looking for employment to do? Research on the web brought forth even more suggestions that are out of touch. One suggested dental work and a facelift/Botox prior to job search. Many older women cannot afford these procedures.

Part of the answer is we did it to ourselves. For a long time we have been sending ourselves the message that “anti” precedes aging. Bombarded with endless anti-aging cosmetic and herbal solutions, is it any wonder age translates as a negative?

Older women who want to remain employed have to take the initiative to update skills and learn new ones. We need to be proactive about our health and participate in wellness programs.

No one disputes that age is a huge problem for older women re-entering the job market. Employment resources that offer little else other than suggesting a dye job and ditching the shoulder pads need to go the way of bustles, corsets and pantyhose.

January 28, 1902

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