Study: Age Discrimination Worse for Women

Further proof that businesses cater to millennials and steer clear of older workers.

Businesses love to tout their progressive programs aimed at attracting millennials. Beer in the fridge? Check. Flexible work environments? Oh yeah. Free food? You bet.

Those perks are awesome and attracting talented young workers is crucial, but the dirty little secret about today’s workplace is that workers that are 50 and over are getting left out in the cold. Why hire a 55-year-old who’s going to be much more expensive than a younger worker? (Because they’ll have much more knowledge, far better industry contacts and won’t throw a temper tantrum if they get negative feedback. Gosh.)

Either it’s blatant agism, the byproduct of shifting attitudes toward work or a shift in the employer mindset — but either way, plenty of capable older people are unemployed or underemployed.

But did you know that age discrimination is worse for women? That’s according to a new study in the National Bureau of Economic Research (and written about in this Forbes article.)

Researchers sent out 40,000 “resumes” for office administration, retail sales, security guard and janitor jobs from “job applicants” ranging in age. Younger applicants (ages 29 to 31) got 35 percent more callbacks than older applicants (ages 64 to 66.) Not cool, but certainly not a shocker either.

But when it comes to men and women who are both in the “older applicant” group, women were much less likely to get callbacks than men.

“Based on evidence from over 40,000 job applications, we find robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women,” wrote researchers David Neumark and Ian Burn of University of California-Irvine and Patrick Button of Tulane University.

With people living longer and being less financially prepared to do so, age discrimination at work is particularly disheartening.

“Age discrimination in hiring is especially important in thinking about lengthening work lives …” the researchers said. “A significant share of any increase in employment among seniors would be expected to come from new employment in part-time or shorter-term ‘partial retirement’ or ‘bridge jobs,’ rather than continued employment of workers in their long-term career jobs.”

Do you think there’s agism in the workplace? Seen it first hand? Let us know in the comments.

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