Ageism; The Forgotten Discrimination

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; The Forgotten Discrimination

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!


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I have experienced it.

    I was rejected on multiple interviews for just my age. They told me this, "Your qualifications are good, but you're too young. Come back in a year and you'll have a job"

    This happens very often, and now whenever I work and am asked my age I hesitate. Normally people assume I'm 19-25 by my looks and voice. So saying I'm 17 could be a hit.
    I try to avoid age as a topic and anything else related (school, schedule) as I don't want to lose business over my age.

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    • Sorry you have to deal with that but it will get better hopefully!

Most Helpful Girl

  • I do think ageism is a socially acceptable form of discrimination and I hate it. In a small example, I remember vividly when I was younger going for a job interview with a girl from my school. I was 16 and she was 18. I was over-qualified for the job, it would be easy for me and she had embarrassingly turned up to the interview with no knowledge of the company nor consideration for her job role. And she still immediately got the job and I didn't. The two interviewees didn't make it any easier for me to accept it. One blatantly said he wanted to hire someone hot and of age to flirt with on the job which is why she got it and I didn't because I was a minor even though there was nothing in my contract that said I had to be 18 (since I did my research before turning up). And the other guy just said they didn't want to work with a 16 year old. You shouldn't get paid based on your age, you should get paid based on the effort you put into your work and your dedication

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What Guys Said 10

  • People have their stereotypes and people like to put labels on others. I think this is a human condition to want to put things into perfect little boxes so they can identify them. Our past experiences also cloud our judgment in the present. Once again, a very human condition. If it is a societal problem, then it still isn't something that can be changed within a short time frame and it takes many years, perhaps decades or even centuries for a substantial shift in culture and values.

    Bringing attention to this is fine, but I don't think there really isn't anything that can be done about it. A person will label a beautiful person as successful even though they know nothing about them because that is how their brain associates it. When you see a guy surrounded by a group of people and he is the center of attention, chances are, people are going to think he is popular and by extension someone of value, but that guy could really be irresponsible and narcissistic.

    While we shouldn't judge books by their covers, people do it all the time. That is because the cover is usually, at least partially, correct. Stereotypes exist for a reason. Is a defense mechanism in the human brain to allow us to predict outcomes for our own survival, or in a micro sense, our own benefit.

    Take for example US racial profiling. Many gangs are composed of black and Latinos. Over 50% of all murders are caused by ~5% of the population (black males). Inner cities are where the heaviest concentrations of black Americans reside. With the drug trade and use is so high in these areas, along with broken families and other catalysts for criminal behavior, it is no wonder police are ultra vigilant against suspicious looking black males. What makes a black male look suspicious? Does he dress like a typical hoodlum or thug? Does he hang out on the corner like drug dealers? Does he have tinted windows in his car and park his vehicle in drug infested areas?

    Just as labels are created out of the human instinct for self-preservation and gain, profiling is used to more quickly narrow down potential threats.

    A person can game this system. How? Act and package yourself to not look like stereotype (continued):

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    • - If you dress and act like a slob, dress sharp to be more attractive to women.
      - If you want mature people to not use your age against you, dress/speak/act like a mature person. Watch classic movies and read about the culture from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
      - If you want fit people to respect you more, lose weight!
      - If you want to not be racially profiled by police, don't walk with your pants halfway down your ass, wear gaudy jewelry, have gold fronts, or act like a hoodlum.
      - If you don't want to be considered a skank or a promiscuous woman, don't dress in clothing that reveals all of your assets and flirts with every single man who gives you attention.

      You might argue that it shouldn't be up to you to change your behavior to be accepted, well tough shit. People will make assumptions based on past experiences (see the first post). It is human nature. You can argue that nature into you are blue in the face, but it isn't going to change anything.

    • Show All
    • Sociology has always intrigued me, but mostly when the theory is heavily grounded in statistics. It shows that common knowledge is really just common delusion in many cases.

      It is true, people are lazy. The brain takes the path of least resistance. This is why so many people fail to get over their bad habits, including shy guys like me who find it hard not to be anxious in social situations. It takes hard work to retrain our way of thinking. And to retrain an entire society's way of thinking, ingrained through culture, and through actions of others that reinforce those ideas constantly destroying any sort of progress? That is an almost insurmountable challenge.

      The only way to retrain society is to lead by example. Religious leaders understood this, heck, even Christ himself used this method. However, a lot of people need to be onboard with it to prove the whole of society wrong.

    • I also believe it's part of the human nature and it's a survival mechanism from the past. Although the world is changing fast doesn't mean the evolution is very fast.

  • I wonder what other "-ism" we can invent...
    #HowCanIBeAVictimToday

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    • Ageism is a legitimate form of discrimination?

    • Are you asking me or telling me?

    • Telling you with a questionable tone.

  • Petty people care about petty things.

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  • Of course, I experienced it but IDGAF

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  • Oh yeah. The younger set thinks the older set are out of touch, clueless, stuck in history, and basically irrelevant. And they couldn't be further from the truth. [shrug]
    Old does not mean dead. Aging is not for wimps. :)

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  • Hmm, a former co-worker who got laid off last year is about 60, and even with his very relevant and up-to-date skill set, has been having an immensely difficult time even getting a chance to interview. So I guess if you think it is hard being young, just try being old and in the tech field. Me, I'm hoping to save enough money to get out of the game by that point.

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    • I know it works both ways and I have sympathy for them as well. I have heard that engineering jobs aren't given to people over 50 without prior experience which sucks for mature engineering graduates.

  • Yes I agree ageism is often an invisible discrimination though in Ireland there has been examples of "Grey Power" recently which could be viewed cynically in the sense that they are a rising population group numerically who tend to vote nut they have reversed cuts imposed on pensions and benefits.

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  • nice take

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  • Thank you

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  • That's a friggin good take.

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    • Oh thank-you!

    • May I ask what made/makes it good? I would like some constructive criticism on my writing!

    • Sorry but I don't have any criticism about it

What Girls Said 7

  • Remember people in my company sacking a elderly guy because they thought he was too old.

    True ageism will hit you when you grow old and you hear men saying how you are no longer required because your peak is 18 - 23... yada yada

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  • Ageism exists here as well. I cannot count how many times people got in irrational argument with me but later shut me up by saying "you're only 16 you know nothing". But in reality they themselves never learned to grow up. Smh.

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  • Good take on people being ridiculous and myopic

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  • nice take

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  • People complain about every little thing these days. It's like everyone wants to be a victim. Come on be a grown up because life is not easy and you'll face challenges all the time.

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    • This take was about pointing out discrimination, not getting offended about 'little things'. Would you say the same on a take pointing out racism or sexism? You're the reason why I made this take - you down play something that is very real and not ever considered to be actual discrimination. You can't ignore something that is out of your control and does have an impact on your opportunities - oh wait, isn't that discrimination?

  • I remember the absolute frustration I felt at the fact that the company I used to work for refused to fire our security guard for nearly 3 years worth of complaining, because, as was told to me, she's a sweet old lady who needs the job, but on the same token, we worked with kids who liked to run out into the street when they got loose from a parents eye and as a manager, a kid getting run over by a car on my watch, would be my head and my job. It didn't help anyone if the security was asleep "a couple of hours" during her shift.

    Ageism sucks, but it will happen when you are young, middle aged, and old if you make it that far. The irony is that we expect that with age comes wisdom, experience, and competency, but yet when people finally get up there, they are ignored, and treated as imbeciles incapable of being able to understand the times we live in. All you can do is try your best to prove the stereotypes incorrect and let your skills and your experience or your willingness to get to and surpass the expectation, show those around you that age literally is nothing but a number.

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  • People here on gag are horrible to the older people on gag. The name call and they when it is reported... nothing happens.

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    • Oh really? Why are they so horrible? I haven't seen it myself.

    • They wouldn't say anything to you. I've been called "old cunt... old lady... granny". I've gotten horrible jokes about menopause

    • Sorry they have said that, it's uncalled for. Definitely report it!

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