I have chosen to review ‘Ageism in the Workplace’. This journal article was published by Helen Dennis and Kathryn Thomas in regard to Ageism that is still alive after the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) has been around for over 35 years. I chose this article as it is relevant to the studies which I have taken in the module “The Discourse of Aging”. This article focuses on the many sides of Ageism and the discrimination that is evident within the workplace towards older people. For this assignment, I will show some of the relevant points in this article that I believe are the main points that link in with what I am currently studying in this module. I will also critique the points in which Dennis and Thomas have discussed in this article, backing them up with relevant sources.
From reading this article, I have taken a few points that I found interesting and relevant that Dennis and Thomas have brought up in this article. The article discusses how Robert Butler in 1968, defined ageism as the ‘systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against older people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplished this with skin color and gender’ (Butler, 1975). Dennis and Thomas exchange views on how ageism is not only evident in the workplace, but in healthcare, media, advertising, and education. In this day and age, we always see young models in the media and advertisements. (Dennis and Thomas, 2007). In the workplace, it is more evident when it comes to hiring a new employee. Many employers will look for a young employer has they think that they are more capable. Sarah Kagan wrote an article on “How Respect for our Elders is Ageism” and discusses how we tend to try and assist the elderly in tasks as we think that they are “incapable” of doing it themselves. (Kagan, 2018). This links in with ‘Ageism in the Workplace’ as it is often stereotyped to hire a young person a lot quicker than a more mature person. Personally, I don’t agree with this as the mature person could have a lot more experience than the younger person.
Although it is said that ageism in the workplace is mainly to do with hiring, Dennis and Thomas have proved otherwise, backing up their information well. They explain how only 10% of the complaints made to the ADEA were in regard to hiring. They also talk about how 63% of complaints were thrown out due to irrelevancy. (Dennis and Thomas, 2007). The Anti-Ageism taskforce (2006) discusses how the majority of ageism is not reported as it is difficult to prove in the workplace. While it is true that ageism is to do with the elderly like it is said in this article, there are many other articles that prove that ageism in youth is a big part of it also. In a recent study, younger workers were stereotyped by both older- and middle-aged workers with unsavory labels such as lazy, irresponsible, and arrogant (Finkelstein, Ryan, & King, 2013).
They discuss how ageism is evident in healthcare “Ageism is pervasive and evident in the media, healthcare, education, and advertising”. (Dennis and Thomas, 2007). They continue on to talk about how healthcare assistants just automatically assume that an elderly person is incapable of completing tasks on their own, so the healthcare assistants do it for them. Evidence of this is backed up in Sarah Kagan’s article “When Respect for our elders is Ageism”. Kagan explores the stereotype and shows us how we can be ageists unknown to ourselves. By saying stuff such as “oh let me do that for you” or “I can help you with that” may easily offend an elderly person who is more than capable of completing it on their own. The realization can help us calm down with ageism, but she is correct in her views. Kagan talks about how we have a caring personality towards an elderly person and automatically want to help them although they might not need it, which backs up Dennis and Thomas’ discussion.
A big part of “Ageism in the Workplace” is the discussion on the pension and the retirement age. It is discussed how employers don’t like to hire mature people as they are closer to the retirement age and the pension age. This is another massive stereotype in regard to Ageism. Having the retirement age at 65, when many people are capable to work over this age. This is when people typically start referring to people at this age as “older people”. People use that quote in reference to the age 65 or older because it is linked with the retirement age. (Ruddle et al., 2015).
In conclusion, from reading this article I can now see how ageism is so highly used in everyday life and how it is so easily used in the workplace, whether it is a mature person themselves working or whether it is a young person working in healthcare services with elderly people. I also can now see how ageism is not just to do with elderly people and how young people can be discriminated against too. Reading this article and the other sources that I used to back up the information I am now more aware of what ageism is defined as and I feel more educated towards what I am currently learning in our module “The Discourse of Aging”.