The Everyday Ageism Project

The Everyday Ageism Project aims to capture people’s everyday experiences of ageism. Research by EURAGE shows that across the European region, ageism is the most commonly experienced form of prejudice, yet relatively little is known about how it is experienced, who experiences it and the situations which may leave people vulnerable to age discrimination.

By providing a safe forum for people to anonymously share their experiences, the project aims to understand the consequences of ageism and the ways that age discrimination can affect people’s everyday lives. We also wish to encourage people to share their stories to show that ageism does exist and that it is a valid problem worth discussing.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Qualifications vs. Relevant Experience?

60 year old male reveals hidden age bias in application processes

"I am an assistant lecturer at a British university and was enthusiastically encouraged over several months by my head of department and his Director of Research to apply for a tenured post. Negotiations about the exact nature of my future employment were discussed in some detail, even down to how many days I would work for the department, whether I was likely to produce an REF-able book by the deadline of summer 2013, how much time I would have available to write, and how I might contribute to the department's research aims. At the same time, the head of department started to come under pressure to employ only a candidate with a PhD, because the university wanted to enhance the department's research profile. I do not have a PhD but I have been active in the field all my life, and have in fact published more widely than any other member of staff - not in refereed journals but in professional journals that cover the field in question. When the advert for the job was eventually published, it made possession of  PhD an essential criterion, not a desirable criterion, and as a result my application was immediately filtered out of the selection process. A very much younger candidate was chosen, with very limited proven impact."

"PhDs are rather rare in my field, and were even rarer when I was at university. Since the arrival of HEFCE in 1993, however, PhDs are becoming much more common, to the point of now being the minimum entry requirement for even junior or "early career" lectureships. As a result, there is a built-in bias against giving tenured employment to anyone of my age, because I grew up in a climate where PhDs were not expected and not normal."

[This made me feel] "Very, very miserable: I had been given the impression by the staff in this department that their enthusiasm for me would carry me through, and that they really saw me as a fully-functioning future member of staff with a huge amount to contribute. I told my wife that a new phase of my life was about to take off. Even my Director of Research had been delighted at the idea of someone of my age and experience becoming an early career lecturer - an event that could have expanded the nature of early-career academic research as performed by young academics."

"I already knew that the stakes were loaded against people of my age in the jobs market, but I had not realised that this loading was institutionalised and not just personal. Often, people don't choose older candidates because there's a natural tendency to favour the young, who are also more easily manipulated by older staff (especially in the contest for promotion) but also more easily forgiven for mistakes. I did not realise that the bias against older candidates was also a reflection of formal processes."

Friday, 14 December 2012

Competence judgements clouded by young age

25 year old tells how she is 'continuously underestimated' at work

"In a review at work (I am a support worker for young adults with learning disabilities), I was told by my boss that I could not hope to understand some of the issues affecting some of the service users that I support "because you are too young" and was patronisingly told that it wasn't my fault as I simply had not had time to mature yet! My boss then likened me too other staff who are 19 years old and completely choose to ignore the fact that I am in fact very mature for my age and have a first class degree in psychology with clinical psychology and received 90% in my module relating to people with learning disabilities. He also chose to completely ignore reviews from my manager who works directly above me who said that I was one of the most capable and insightful members of staff in the entire company."

[I think this is ageism] "Because my boss refused to see clear evidence of my competence, and preferred to simply view me as "young" and stereotyping me as incompetent and immature."

[This made me feel] "Shocked. Undermined. Irritated. Infuriated. I felt also felt defeated, as though all my hard work was pointless and all my future efforts were pointless if he would continue refuse to see me as an individual and fail to acknowledge who I actually am and what I am really capable off. 6 months later I still work for him, and am still continuously underestimated."

The boss was estimated to be 45 years old. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Troublemaker teenager?

28 year old remembers how her school uniform made her feel like she was being judged 'troublemaker'

"When I was in Secondary School, I would always be followed around the local shops by various staff members and security.  There were also signs on the shop doors that stated 'No groups of students in school uniform. One at a time please'-probably as they could only follow one person at a time! One time I remember being in the shopping mall with 3 friends (not even in a shop!). We were asked by a security guard to move along. I asked why? He said because we were blocking the pathway, yet there was plenty of space and groups of mothers with prams who were not being asked to move. Although, this happened to me years ago I have witnessed it happen to others of a similar age ever since.  I believe we were only asked to move due to our age. The other groups of older people were not treated in the same negative way."

[This made me feel] "Extremely angry, that just because I was in a school uniform and with 3 friends I was being treated like I was a petty thief or troublemaker."

The shop staff and security guards were estimated to be between 30-50 years old. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Too old to be a student?

Male, 23 years, tells how he was judged "too old to be a student" 

"I went to get my phone fixed at a local mobile company. When the person started fixing it he asked if I was from around here. I said yes, I am a student [at the University] and I received a reply of "your a bit old to be a student aren't you."  He seemed to base a stereotype of university with age and thought based on my appearance (without knowing my age) that I was too old."

"I felt ok, not shocked. Though this was the first time anyone ever judged my age whilst I have been studying at university. I was more surprised."

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Trouble Managing Older Staff

40 year old female tells how her age was an issue for others when she was 23

"I was a young manager [aged 23 years], managing older staff.  When yearly reviews on staff  were conducted one member of the team would not accept the report score and disucssed this with the rest of the staff who then would make digs at me. The comments were I was too young too know what I was doing."

[This made me feel] "Angry as I knew the job as well as they did and had previous managerial experience."

The other staff were estimated to be around 50 years old. 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Too Old for Treatment?

Daughter tells how her mother was treated in hospital 

"My mother [in her mid 80's] was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which had spread to other organs. During a meeting with a consultant she said to us "We have no idea how advanced the cancer is, but due to the age of your mother we will not carry out any investigations or any treatment.  Thank you and goodbye".  If my mother had been younger, I feel they would have carried out a biopsy, or some kind of investigation.  It was almost as if she was too old for them to be bothering with. We were stunned, firstly by the news, then with the fact that we were going to be left to look after my mother with no support from the hospital."

The consultants were estimated to be around 40 to 55 years.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Interview for Managerial Position

23 year old male tells how his age was raised in a job interview

"In a job interview for a managerial position the question was raised of whether, at my low age compared to my peers, I would be respected enough to make decisions and lead a team. If I am capable of doing the job then age should not matter."

[This made me feel] "emotionally charged to prove that age would not matter."

The interviewers were estimate to be around 35 to 45 years of age. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Patronising Treatment in Hospital

28 year old female tells how her 86 year old grandfather was patronised in hospital

"Whilst in hospital my grandfather was spoken to as if he was a child. He was told that he was using his razor incorrectly even though he had used it that way for years.  Despite the fact that he was a coherent educated man the nurse spoke to me about him as if he wasn't there and then talked to him as if he was a delinquent. She was really rude in her tone."

[This made me feel] "unhappy, embarrassed for him and cross."

The nurse was estimated to be 30 years of age.

Monday, 3 December 2012

PhD Interview

26 year old female experienced ageism in an interview for a PhD

"In an interview for a PhD place the Director of the research degree programme asked me whether my young age (23 at the time) could mean that I wasn't ready for a PhD. I was surprised at the question and felt patronised. I think age is irrelevant when it comes to doing a PhD - relevant factors are things like experience, qualifications and personal attributes."

The Director of research was estimated to be between 55 and 65 years old.