Globally, 3 in 4 women experience ageism in careers: survey

How does ageism manifest in the workplace?

Globally, 3 in 4 women experience ageism in careers: survey

More than three in four women across the world have experienced ageism throughout their careers, according to a new report.

The survey by Women of Influence+ among 1,258 respondents across 46 countries found that 77.8% have encountered age-related discrimination in their careers.

Another 80.7% said they have witnessed women in the workplace being treated differently because of their age.

"It's a clear indication that we are facing a pervasive and systemic issue," said Rumeet Billan, CEO of Women of Influence+, in a statement.

Manifestations, impact of ageism

Among those who experienced age-based discrimination, 40.7% said they encountered it within the first decade of their career, while 55.9% said it happened after surpassing 21 years in their professional journey.

The most common manifestation of ageism in the workplace is hearing age-based stereotypes and/or assumptions, which is cited by 74.8% of the respondents. Others said it manifested through:

  • A lack of respect from colleagues (50.1%)
  • Unfair treatment in promotion process (49%)

As a result, 62.2% of the respondents said they suffered from increased stress as a result of experiencing ageism. Others said they:

  • Second-guessed their capabilities (61.8%)
  • Overcompensated or worked harder to prove their worth (59.3%)
  • Experienced lower self-confidence (55%)

More than half (57.7%) of those who suffered from ageism also said their career progression had been impaired because of it.

More than half also reported feeling a lack of sense of belonging at work (52.1%) and experiencing dissatisfaction with their employer (50.9%)

Addressing ageism in the workplace

Billan said their findings are a call to action for employers.

"It's time for systemic change," Billan said. "We must collectively work towards creating environments where age does not define capability or limit opportunity."

Women of Influence+ outlined five measures that employers can take to address ageism in the workplace:

  • Raise awareness and provide training and education
  • Implement preventative policies and hold people accountable
  • Develop reciprocal mentorship programmes
  • Focus on competencies over age when recruiting and hiring
  • Include ageism as part of DEI strategy, initiatives, and programmes

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