New Research: Ageism in the Workplace

Ageism is recognized by the World HealthOrganization as a “prevalent and insidious problem,” and can act as a dangerous employment discrimination tactic, even if it’s unintentional. The fastest growing segment of the American workforce is employees aged 65 and older, according to AARP, yet new survey results show that a majority of people experience ageism before the age of 45. Ageist remarks and comments, when internalized, have proven to have negative impacts on a person’s mental and physical health so it’s important to combat ageism at every level of a company. 

This past summer, Fairygodboss surveyed 1,000 people over the age of 40 to understand the prevalence of ageism in the workplace, learn how it affects employees, and determine what employers can do to better combat ageism at work.

They initially set out to see if there were any differences in the ways men and women experience ageism and, while there were a few notable differences, there are far more similarities. The survey found that there are more distinctions between respondents who have and have not experienced ageism when it comes to their perceptions of ageism at work.

Key findings

Among Fairygodboss’ key findings:

  1. 28% of respondents said they’ve experienced ageism at work
  2. Men report being more likely than women to have been asked their age when searching for a new job 
  3. Women are 1.8x more likely to color their hair than men to appear younger for work while respondents who have experienced ageism are 3x more likely than those who haven’t experienced ageism
  4. Respondents who have experienced ageism in the workplace are 3.6x more likely to fear being pushed out at work because of their age than respondents who haven’t experienced ageism
  5. Despite the majority of respondents wanting to retire after the age of 65, 53% believe that it will be difficult to keep their job or get a new one starting at age 50


So what can employers do to help? According to the survey, respondents said avoiding discriminatory interview questions, offering additional learning opportunities to all employees, and encouraging mentorships between younger and older employees are the top 3 actions employers can take to help prevent and combat ageism in their workplaces.

For more information, check out Fairygodboss (login required).



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