Am i old enough to be taken seriously?

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Young adults are more likely to lớn report experiencing ageism at work than their middle-aged & older counterparts. So what if you are facing this situation?

Start or join a working group for young professionals. It’s important khổng lồ create a safe space to talk to people you trust.Talk lớn your manager. They may have no idea what you’re going through and can give you tools to help you navigate it.Have an xuất hiện discussion with the culprit. There’s nothing wrong with respectfully approaching the coworker who is demonstrating discrimination against you.Never forget your value add. You bring a special skillset to the office, which is why you were hired.

Ageism cuts both ways.


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I started my career in thành phố new york City, working as an editorial assistant for one of the largest publishing conglomerates in the world. Fresh out of grad school with several years of internship experience in tow, I walked into the 52-story building with my head held high. I was to report directly lớn the senior vice president, an industry legend. She was poised and intelligent và I idolized her.

During my second week on the job, I received her e-mail invitation for an in-person meeting. Heart racing, I dashed through the doors of her corner office that overlooked Broadway và West 56th. Expecting khổng lồ receive my first real assignment, she looked at me và said, “Emma, I just received a package from IKEA. Would you mind assembling my new lamp? Let me know when you’re finished.”

I would love lớn dismiss this humiliating — yet humbling — moment as one bad thing that happened a very long time ago. But it still triggers me today: a woman approaching thirty with seven years of job experience under my belt. As one of the youngest people on my team by a decade, I’m often hesitant khổng lồ assert myself in meetings or ask more seasoned colleagues for help out of fear of seeming naive. In these moments, I find myself back in the corner office, building my first boss’s IKEA lamp & trying lớn figure out her intentions. Was it because I seemed incompetent? Was it because my role included “assistant” in the title?

Or was it what I feared then — và still fear now — that my age makes it hard to lớn take me seriously?

I needed khổng lồ figure out if this insecurity has grounds in reality. Here’s what the research tells me: When you Google “age discrimination at work,” you’ll find article after article about bias against older employees and laws aimed at addressing this problem.In the U.S., the federal government has protections in place to lớn prevent discrimination against workers age 40 and up. Companiescan’t, for example, legally assume that someone isn’t qualified for a job because they are “too old” to understand how khổng lồ use a certain technology or implement the latest innovations. That said, it’s questionable whether these protections always work. Ageism against older workers still runs rampant in some companies and industries.

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At the same time, these protections don’t apply to young professionals. This is a problem. A recent study revealed that young adults are oftenmore likely to report experiencing ageism at work than their middle-aged & older counterparts. It’s called “reverse ageism.”

On đứng top of this, Glassdoorreleased a 2019 diversity and inclusion surveyin the U.S., UK,France,andGermany that foundyounger employees (52% of ages 18-34) are more likely than older employees (39% of ages 55+) to have witnessed or experienced ageism at work.

“Ageism cuts both ways,” Professor Dominic Abrams at the University of Kent, told me. “It’s true that people often apply patronizing stereotypes to lớn older workers và so they are often assumed lớn be less employable. But younger people tend to be more exposed to lớn all forms of prejudice & discrimination than older people — racism, sexism, and ageism.”

According to lớn my research, this is what reverse ageism can look like: More senior or experienced employees overlooking feedback from younger colleagues on projects. Seasoned employees assuming that younger colleagues can’t be trusted with important tasks. Or younger colleagues being the target of stereotypical age assumptions.

When I explore whether these examples fit into my own work experience, I’m brought back to one moment that took place before the pandemic got really bad in Boston. I was in the office, talking khổng lồ a fellow 20-something-year-old coworker about an upcoming assignment. We were brainstorming ideas for a new product, when a senior employee turned khổng lồ us và said, “Girls, can you please take your chatter elsewhere? It’s very distracting.”

My peer & I exchanged a glance — confused, and a little bit shocked. While our colleague may have thought he was just asking for quiet, there were assumptions embedded in his comment:

Assumption 1: That we are “girls,” not two grown women.

Assumption 2: Our discussion was “chatter,” as if we weren’t working on anything of importance.

So no, not all of it is in my head.

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I understand how it might be easy for people tomistrustthose who have less workplace experience than themselves, but this mistrust ultimately works against all of us và can lead to biased assumptions. When older workers doubt the competency of those younger than them, they fail us. They are not helping the next generations develop transferable skills. They’re building barriers of mistrust.