Friday, July 1, 2011

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number Way To Engage In Subtle Discrimination

Naomi Cohn's story of going from unemployed to underemployed in two years contains what I think is one of the more underreported aspects of the Little Depression:
Like my readers, despite my persistence, I could not find a job. In all that time, I had about half a dozen interviews. Most of them were conducted by men who were significantly younger than me. Some of my interviewers asked questions that revealed their possibly unconscious age discrimination. One, for example, asked nonchalantly, "so, how old are your kids?" It was clear in most of the interviews that they were looking for someone with whom they would feel comfortable socially -- and a fifty-two-year-old woman was not that person.
this particular problem facing many of the jobless has been more or less ignored by our political discourse. And yet it still exists.


Charlene said...

You can assume if a 50 year old person is laid off or took early retirement but need to work, they will not find work on the level they once successfully had. An entire generation out of work because of the recession has been removed from the work force.

Young workers should pay attention. It will happen again to them.

Mary said...

I think the question about how old the woman's kids are is illegal, isn't it? If she didn't volunteer the information that led to the question, she might be able to file an age discrimination suit. We have a friend who had been a successful, well-regarded member of his company who was recently fired at the age of 59--the company "wanted to go in a different direction." Yeah, I'll bet. They wanted to go in the direction that they wouldn't have to pay him so damn much. And in other news...legislation was passed yesterday in Michigan that seniority can not be a major consideration when laying off teachers. I hope baby boomers find some of that fighting spirit they used to have and let it be known that this will not stand. People are living longer and healthier lives and they will need to work.

Quirk said...

Yes, exactly the sort of problem my aunt was facing as she interviewed (at age 41) for computer programming, IT, or sys-admin jobs. She's both very competent and very easy to work with, but not 25. Though she thinks it's an older woman thing in particular.