Monday, June 05, 2006

The ism that no one talks about


According to Wikipedia there are two common forms:

Although ageism can refer to bias against any age group, ageism (and age discrimination) are usually focused on either of two targets, the actual age limits being vague:

* Adolescents (Ageism against adolescents is also called "Adultism"), stereotypically calling them immature, insubordinate and irresponsible
* The elderly, stereotypically calling them slow, weak, dependent and senile.

Well I'm in neither of those groups, but I'm relatively young (in my 20s) and as a result feel ageism all the time. Last semester as a lecturer, in the class room as a masters student, in conferences where people seem to love saying bad things about young workers. Someone even suggested that perhaps I am trouble finding a new place to rent because I am young.

I'm particularly feeling it in my new job though especially when one of my colleagues says things like

x was really nice, probably because she is young and stupid

In conferences I'm starting to feel more and more insecure voicing my opinions and contributing because there always seem to be one worker who has something negative to say about young workers in whatever field they are talking about.

I feel like standing up and shouting:

just because I or anyone else is young doesn't mean we don't have experience and skills of our own. Not to mention enthusiasm, passion, energy and ways of looking at things that might be just outside the square.

Well for one thing young workers are not generally burnt out and bitter like some of the workers who seem to have found themselves either in the wrong job or just stayed on longer than they probably should have. So as a result they snap at everyone and just spread their negativity. Btw, I don't mean all or even the majority of the older workers are like that, but I figure its one issue that you don't see with younger workers. So basically more experience is not necessary a good thing.

I know the ageism I experience is partly because the offenders are insecure about their own age. But it sill hurts, it still makes me feel more and more like my thoughts are worthless and that I have nothing to contribute when I know deep down that I do.

1 comment:

-A. said...

My hunch is that the ageism reflects deep-seated jealousy on the part of the older workers. You're young, enthusiastic and have a big career ahead of you. They're further along their career and are risk-averse to trying new things. Take it as a compliment.