refers to the bias attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and feelings towards the older
generation (Blaine, 2018). Ageism is an epidemic divided into various issues
such as stereotypes individuals don’t believe they hold (Schaie, 1993) and
stereotypes solely in the workplace which commonly arise when older individuals
reach their 25 year milestone, of their chosen profession (Dennis & Thomas, 2007).
Assumptions are believed, that the older generation can not accomplish or
succeed with tasks as well as the younger generation. Palmore and Maeda (1985),
state across cultures, the elderly are admired and respected due to their age
(as cited in Levy & Macdonald, 2016).
However, methods to overcome ageism for the older generation, is to
remain positive, optimistic, self confident; keeping from falling into being a
victim of ageism.
In 2019, it will be 50 years since
Mr. Robert Butler (1969), former director of the National Institute on Aging in
the United States (Levy & Macdonald,2016), introduced the term Ageism to
the world. The act of ageism was an issue, but was not defined as one, Mr.
Butler, (1969) explained this through an article he wrote after an interest in
prejudice towards the older generation arose. Mr. Butler (as cited in Levy
& Macdonald, 2016) describes ageism as a form of prejudice that is
completely overlooked and not viewed as a prejudice threat or worry. Ageism
continues to exist due to the lack of viewing ageism as an ism and failing to
view ageism as a serious prejudice term like racism or sexism (Nelson, 2016).
However, everyone will not experience racism or sexism in their lifetime, but
will experience some form of ageism (Blancato & Ponder, 2015). A marketing
research had estimated that Americans who are aging will spend 114 billion
dollars on numerous cosmetic surgeries and products, intended to make them
appear younger to the out-group members or anyone for that matter, who
discriminate against their age (Crary, 2011).
is on the rise more so than ever, due to 77 million individuals being members
of the baby boomer generation born between 1946 and 1964 (Nelson, 2016), and
now that the youngest baby boomers are 50 and the oldest will soon be in their
70’s, it is expected for the aging population to double by the year 2030
(Blancato & Ponder, 2015). Ageism is an obstacle that is divided in several
ways, solely reflected on stereotypes and stereotypes in the workplace or
cross-cultural ageism. Ageism is a prejudice act that needs to be fought-to-end.
Individuals hold stereotypes towards
ageism in more ways than imagined. Many people do not realize they themselves
hold a prejudice on age. A stereotype is a thought about a person or thing
before getting to know all the facts. According to (Schaie, 1993) they believe
in ways to avoid ageism is for students to be taught by both older and younger
teachers, also feeling as though a class should be taught about ageism (Schaie,
1993). Educational ways, such as activities and lessons that touch upon the
topic (Schaie, 1993). Studies have shown that while students observe a
particular sport or race being done they typically assume that just because the
athlete is older they are less likely to win (Pulos, 1993).
Ageism happens so frequently people
are blind to it. More times than most, ageism happens in elderly homes, where
elderly men and women are getting abused in these retirement homes because of
their age (Eriksson, 2001). Surveys have shown that women are more likely to be
abused in these homes rather than men. Women are subjected to both sexual abuse
and sexual harassment. Individuals just assume because someone is old there is
a less interest in predatory attacks. When in reality you are more likely to
get attacked due to your age and stamina (Eriksson, 2001).
Another mode of prejudice that is
directed against the elderly and is a growing problem in the United States is
ageism in the workplace. The factor that highly contributes to the biases and
prejudices that older workers have to face are due to technological
advancements within a company. There is a strict need and also a requirement by
companies for workers to be familiar with computers and other technical tools.
Digital literacy is important to most companies as it plays a role in the advancement
The Age Discrimination in Employment
Act or the ADEA was signed into law in 1967, which forbids discrimination in
the workplace against anyone 40 years or older. However, recent surveys have
shown that many workers still believe there are signs of age discrimination on
the job today. The discrimination based on an individual’s age even persists
even though older workers are not necessarily less healthy, less skilfull, less
educated or productive than younger workers (Fleck, 2014). The study has also
shown that older women face particular challenges in employment because of
their age sex and age.
The study also indicates the
contribution of employers in the discriminating and unjust treatment of older
employees. Employers generally hold negative attitudes about older employees
and are compared to their younger counterparts. In the United States, there are
1 in 5 workers is 55 years or older. In a survey that was taken by more than
1,502 older adults, 64 percent of
workers say they have observed or had have been discriminated on a first-hand
basis. 58 percent of workers believe that discrimination based on their age
begins among workers in their 50s.
It has also been disclosed from the
same survey, that people who had retired did not retire because they wanted to
pursue their dreams or passion. Instead, many people whose employers claimed
that their employees had retired voluntarily were in truth pushed to retire;
exposing the actuality of these situations that retirement is not as voluntary
as employers made it or make it seem. Employees have claimed that they had felt
that they had been pushed out by employers. Some employers would also give them
tasks that were impractical and could not be performed, leaving the older
workers to feel incompetent in their line of work.
The older workers who have to
transition from old working techniques into new working techniques have a
difficult time than younger co workers who already have an understanding of how
to use such devices. Although older workers make up a great proportion of the
work force there is a huge age-based digital divide that is consequently
negative. This phenomenon is known as the grey digital divide, which was first
coined by Peter Millward, which explains the perception, exclusion and barriers
of access to the Internet for older people.
Age biases affect the workplace in a
negative manner and the presence of age discrimination is always in effect when
they become influencing factors in making decisions on employment, termination,
retirement, benefits and promotion opportunities (Dennis & Thomas, 2007).
Older people feel marginalized and become dissatisfied and disengage themselves
from their workplace (Laga?e, Charmarkeh, Zaky & Firzly, 2016). Employees
that are old feel that they are being relegated, and thus put at risk their
knowledge and expertise that are equally valuable in the workforce especially
in activities such as the mentoring processes. Older workers can feel useless
and unimportant in their workforce when they are constantly demeaned because of
their lack of knowledge or skill in technology.
Ageism in the workplace begins when
an employee has passed the age of 50 or has marked their 25- year milestone at
their workplace (Dennis
& Thomas, 2007). They suddenly have to deal with criticism about
their work or are assigned work that is below their positions and sometimes
even disregarded in front of their younger coworkers. The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission received 22,700 charges of age discrimination in 2010 (Kunze, Boehm & Bruch, 2011).
However, it is often difficult to prove
age discrimination that employers perpetrate against older workers. This
statistic just explains the growing problem of our society where the people are
rendered useless and incapable once they hit a certain age mark.
Between Western and Asian
traditions, researchers have examined cross-cultural contrast in aging
attitudes (Löckenhoff, 2014). Cross-culture is the dealing with two or more
unlike cultures and offering comparisons about them. Cross-culturalism plays a
huge part in ageism because although it may be different in each region or
area, all cultures have similarities in respect, love, and care for the
elderly. Another study of cross-cultural dilemmas would be more associated with
gender, race, and age. Due to recent research, there’s been a big role for
aging attitudes than shared cultural values due to socioeconomic development
and population aging (Löckenhoff, 2014). There may be a difference in beliefs
and cultures based on aging. Although, cross-cultural ageism is attitudes
toward Arabs and Jews living in Israel, the expansion has went to the Asian
culture, Western culture, and American culture.
In American culture, cross-cultural
has increased in universities, colleges, and schools. Over the past ten
years, researchers Clair and Adgen
(1999), state there has been a rise of one million English-language learning
and now they consist of a percent of 5.5 of total school-aged population ( as cited
in Wasson & Jackson, 2013). In the Western and Asian culture,
cross-cultural is influenced by filial piety and Confucian. Filial piety is the
importance of obedience, care, and respect for your elderly family members and
your parents (In Confucianism), whereas Confucianism is the religion of
tradition, a way of governing, and an easy way of life. How both filial piety
and Confucianism ties in with cross-cultural ageism is because both socially
accept caring, loving, and respecting your parents and elder family members.
The reason for the studies was due to education, race, gender , and age.
Ageism impacts people of all ages,
but people who are 60 years of age and older happen to experience ageism more
often than any other age group (Dittmann, 2003). There are many stereotypes about older people
mostly created by younger generations. For example, a survey of people 60 years
of age and older revealed that it is common for older people to be
discriminated against because it is believed that they are handicapped
(Dittmann, 2003). The media is one of the main problems when it comes to
promoting ageism against elderly adults; they are commonly labeled as useless
or needy when in fact they should be respected (Dittman, 2003). According to
psychologist Becca Levy, it is proven that poor self-image in older people is
linked to increased rates of disease as well as a shorter life spans.
Psychologists do believe that it is
possible to end ageism. One way to end ageism would be for older people to be
more assertive and independent, they should not allow people to assume that
because they are older they are in need of assistance or incapable of carrying
out certain actions (Orenstein, 2015). There are some APA groups who are
helping to support as well as train geropsychologists to overcome the crude
impacts of ageism and ageism as a whole (Dittmann, 2003). Geropsychology is the
study of older people and the diseases linked to age, geropsychologists promote
health and for older people live their lives free of judgment (All Psychology
Psychologists also believe that
surrounding older people with younger people and keeping them active with
regular exercise will also help diminish ageism because it can possibly show
younger generations that older people are just about capable of the same
activities as people younger than them (All Psychology Careers, 2017). Ageism
can also be defeated by remaining positive, if older people are optimistic and
have great self confidence it will be hard to fall victim to the ageist
stereotypes (All Psychology, 2017). Even
though ageism victims may overcome these hurtful stereotypes and discriminatory
actions there will always be people who still hold prejudices against older
Ageism has played a huge role in
society. It is a form of prejudice in which people are categorized and judged
based on their age. It is definitely thought that elders are more discriminated
upon more than children are. As time goes on each generation will have some
sort of different form of history to judge upon; each generation is different
and the world is always changing. Ageism will affect everyone, whether being a
stereotype, cross cultural, and even when it comes to getting a job (Reaney,
2015). Which is why we need to find ways to go about fighting ageism or even
make a change to how certain things work around us.
There are too many people out there
who don’t believe in ageism or don’t even know it’s a real issue (Nelson,
2016). Ageism has divided the older generation from the younger generation; but
society can’t say who’s right or wrong. Both have different ways of living and
thinking; can’t put someone down based on age (Dennis & Thomas, 2007).
Holding prejudice about ageism, age discrimination, and different cultures
viewing age and seniority will always be in effect. There are many different
ways to go about stopping ageism but, it’s who would be willing to put in the
work to stop this horrible trend? Ageism affects everyone of all ages and will
continue to do so; Ageism is a prejudice act that needs to be put to an end.