How Does Ageism Impact Young People Too?
Often, it’s assumed that ageism is a stereotype that is felt only by older adults. However, reverse ageism describes when younger individuals are stereotyped against because of their youth.
When older adults suffer from ageism tactics, they may lose jobs or have a difficult time getting job offers. In a similar fashion, when younger adults experience reverse age bias it can be detrimental to their careers.
If a younger worker receives stereotyping based on their age, they may not climb the career ladder the way they could if they were instead judged based on their capabilities or abilities at work. These younger employees may be ready to lead, may be able to work hard, and be knowledgeable, however they could find themselves held back because they don’t have a certain number of years experience under their belt, and are judged strictly on that number, instead of their ability.
It is often discussed how older adults can combat ageism in society and within the organizations they work for, but it is less talked about how younger generations should act to remove the ageism biases they face throughout their own career growth and received opportunities.
So, what can young adults do when they feel the effects of age bias? First, they can find a mentor to talk it through with. That person can be an older adult at work, a co-worker of similar age who has experienced the same thing, an HR representative, a family member, or an external mentor. By talking out what is happening, the young adult will be able to better hear their own narrative, and determine the next course of action they should take.
Often, the next step is bringing up concerns with those that are doing the stereotyping. Whether it is a boss refusing a promotion, or a co-worker cracking jokes about inexperience. By talking with these individuals, it will become clear if the negative interactions are planned out, or accidental.
Often, we stereotype and share out our personal biased ideas without much thought. We have been programmed to think and act this way from a young age, and we might not realize we are causing pain or problems towards those around us.
Talking with the culprit who is perpetuating age bias might simply solve the problem, but if it doesn’t, there are additional steps to take.
A young adult experiencing reverse ageism can file an official complaint at work, or can write an op-ed piece about their experience. They can reach out to upper management, or speak with a company that works to fight age bias. The trick is to not be silent.
Often times we are told not to put up a fight, especially at work. However, when it comes to stereotypes holding us back, the time to act is now.
Younger adults will experience ageism as their careers progress. If they’re currently experiencing reverse ageism too, they have a doubly long road ahead of them. It’s our responsibility to work together to eliminate ageism from society and allow all ages to have a healthy work environment.