19 Oct It’s 2021 And Ageism Is Still A Powerful Double-Edged Sword
These past few months, me and my friends have been actively keeping up with vacancies (jobs, internships, part-time, full-time, you name it). In the middle of our ‘online surf’ you could say, we found out that there is an interesting pattern in nowadays’ vacancies. We noticed that from a lot of the vacancies, the companies put age limits for the job position they are opening.
There’s this company offering a place at their Social Media Specialist team, one of the requirements for that position (as they noted) is ‘max. 27 years old’. When we kept noticing those age limits on a lot of the vacancies, I was like ‘wow turns out ageism is still a thing, even in this day and age.’
Yes, most of the time, social media and online job portals are the main sources for our job hunting. A lot of the vacancies shared on online media are probably ‘youngster friendly’ as a lot of them are connected to youth life cultures. We might be thinking, positions like Social Media Specialist and UX Developer are usually around to create something for the company that young people nowadays could resonate with, attracting young people to consume the company’s products.
That sounds like a believable excuse, but how about job age limits that reject younger people. Oh yes, ageism doesn’t just limit adults as we thought it is, but it also limits people of a young age such as teenagers and young adults. How so? While older people are being labeled as ‘not experienced enough in now’s young life cultures’ by ageism, younger people are also labeled with a different set of prejudices. Younger people are probably ‘too over the top’, ‘lacks the knowledge’, and ‘lacks the experience’ for certain job positions.
Kate Morgan shared a young woman’s real-life experience in her BBC Worklife article. The woman whose first name is Leia (last name not revealed for the sake of privacy and safety), is working as a business development team member for a mid-size tech company. Leia is the youngest member of that team, and her so-called ‘superiors’ often judge her for having ‘too much ambition’. Her fellow team members, who are mostly twice Leia’s age, don’t just talk about her with a negative tone behind her back but also make comments such as ‘What does a 23-year-old know about these things?’.
Sounds like simple comments, and people surely can take comments right? But the thing is, comment is the ‘water’ of a company’s environment. If the water spills, the whole floor would be slippery, and people who walk on that floor could be injured. So when there’s a comment, we can expect the dozens and dozens of problems that will follow after it. Underestimating comments could push fellow workers at one company to follow that path of underestimation as a way of treating their younger co-worker(s), and treating co-workers like that could limit the young people’s opportunity and potential to grow in not just that company, but also in the industry they want to shine at.
Kate describes ageism cases like these as ‘acute’. Knowing the circumstances, it’s a pretty accurate adjective to describe its nature. Ageism has rooted itself in a lot of life aspects, with worker level as one of them. Adults who underestimate younger co-workers does that because of the long-coming infliction of ageism that has been there, pushing workers to see age as one of the qualities they can judge from a co-worker. The same set of problems is also preventing older workers to use their potential in the ‘new up and coming fields’ that have connections to young life culture.
Ageism is a double-edged sword, it’s harming both younger AND older workers. We need to note that its existence is the root for many work problems we are facing today, which could be decreased if we apply self-consciousness to our work environment, cleaning away ageism problems.