When you think of discrimination, you may predominantly think of racism and sexism as examples. However, discrimination comes in many forms but I find the one that is noticed or spoke about less is ageism. This lack of communication is harmful to those who experience ageism, as they often don't recognise they're being discriminated against and therefore, they are left feeling confused and unable to speak to someone about how they're feeling.
It's unclear why ageism isn't spoken about that often, but it may be due to the fact that people seem to see it as less troublesome or offensive compared to something like racism. Whilst I somewhat agree that ageism isn't as serious, purely because we do not stay the same age forever, it doesn't mean it shouldn't be spoken about. If ageism is ever spoken about it, it is nearly always aimed at elderly people when it can happen to young people too.
Whilst I somewhat agree that ageism isn't as serious, purely because we do not stay the same age forever, it doesn't mean it shouldn't be spoken about.
This topic is important to me as I have experienced ageism myself and have felt the feelings that comes with it. Yet, I felt I had no-one to talk to about it and it wasn't until years later that I realised that I had been affected by ageism, partly because I didn't realise it was an actual form of discrimination. As a 22 year old, I thought it was all over but it seems it isn't, which encouraged me to write this.
Ageism started for me when I entered working life, particularly in the care industry. I started providing care to a terminally ill woman, only to be informed by my boss that they did not want me because I was too young (I was 18). I accepted that it was their wish but it was the first time I'd been denied something purely because of my age and not my ability to do the job.
My coworkers, who are all aged over 30+, used to viewed me as incapable and made assumptions about me, purely because of my age. If I didn't want to work one day, specifically the weekend, it was assumed it was because I wanted to go out partying, when that is not my scene anymore!
If ageism is ever spoken about it, it is nearly always aimed at elderly people when it can happen to young people too.
My age in terms of minimum wage pay has been an issue also. I worked in a hotel when I was 16, getting £3.60 and hour, whilst I worked along a very nasty woman in her early 20s, but she was getting £5.50 an hour. She did almost no work and made me do the jobs she didn't want to do. My other coworkers noticed my hard work, they said that I was doing a really good job and two of them actually spoke to my manager to suggest I get a pay rise. That pay rise never came.
I also think it's bad that the amount of money someone needs is dependent on age. That woman in her 20s didn't need the money as her father bought her huge 4x4 cars and whatever she needed. I have had to pay for my cars and anything I needed/wanted.
As I stated earlier, ageism hasn't stopped despite now being 22, with almost 4 years experience as a carer, caring for people of all kinds. My boss has now said that I am not experienced enough to do a new call with a new person. It will likely go to someone who is older, but who has not actually worked in this industry as long as me and surely experience comes before age? My co-workers have actually said that it sounds like ageism and she's doing it purely because of my age.
Work is also given to older people because they're considered needing it more than me because they may have children and/or a house to pay for. In actuality, some of them are older than me with no children but have partners that also work, but they still get more work than me because they're viewed as needing it more. I don't have a partner to provide a second wage and I have bills to pay!
It makes me feel that whatever I do, whatever I achieve and however I perform, my age will always be used as an excuse as to why I'm denied a job or opportunity. Younger people are stereotyped into one group; they're careless, don't work hard, only ever go partying and don't take life/responsibilities seriously. In the work place, they're also considered as not needing money because they have no commitments yet. That is not the case for all young people and if you view them that way, it's time to start unpicking that stereotype from your mind.
In writing this, I wished to highlight ageism amongst the younger population but I do not wish to deny the existence of ageism in the elderly population. Both are negative stereotypes that need to be eradicated.
It makes me feel that whatever I do, whatever I achieve and however I perform, my age will always be used as an excuse as to why I'm denied a job or opportunity.
Have you experienced ageism? Whether it has been for being too young or for being too old, share your account in the comments!