Why we need older women in the workplace.

Do you have older, female colleagues as role models? If you do, consider yourself lucky.

For younger women entering the workforce, it can be disheartening to see a lack of female representation at the top levels.

And with few older women in top jobs, it’s hard to find a decent mentor or role model to emulate. Someone who manages to find that balance betwee their home and work lives to look up to and want to mirror.

This is just one of the many reasons we need more older women in the workplace.

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Hilary Clinton is running for POTUS at 68. Image via Getty.

“A good workplace is one in which you can look around and see versions of yourself five years from now, or ten,” Lisa Miller, who became editor of The Wall Street Journal at age 30, writes for New York magazine.

“But for women, this exercise in mirroring gets harder and harder as they push toward 40, and 50, and beyond — for the simple reason that older women with ambition don’t stick around.

“They dial back, drop out, start their own thing.”

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Miller says older women get fed up with competing against men who feel no urgency to rush home and want greater control and flexibility in a job.

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Sheryl Sandberg. Image via Getty.

Wildly successful women like Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg are the exception, rather than the rule, she says.

Miller says having women over 40, 50 and 60 is important for more than just workplace diversity and richness of experience; studies show that companies with females in leadership positions actually perform better.

A 2012 Dow Jones report showed companies with at least one female senior executive were more likely to succeed than those with all-male executives and venture-based start-ups with at least five women involved were significantly more successful than those without.

Yep, women are good at their jobs. Shocking, I know.

Families and Work Institute vice president Anne Weisberg pointed out that women who have achieved some level of success by middle age are likely more experienced than middle-aged men who’ve slogged it out at one company.

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Boost Juice boss Janine Allis. Image via facebook/janine.ellis.

“Because women so frequently turn the heat up and down on their careers, because they move laterally, and back and forth between work and home, because they work efficiently but not necessarily during ‘working hours’, they have in some way already adapted to the new way of doing business,” Ms Weisberg told the magazine.

“It’s the men who expect a secure paycheck and a steady climb who have to readjust.”

Miller says the data on female success is “appalling”. She says women earn the same amount as men when they enter the workforce, but pay parity drops the moment women have children and take time off to care for them.

“By the time a woman reaches the age of 50, she’s earning 55 cents on the dollar,” she says.

“And because they step on and off the track, women in general have less retirement savings than men; they are less likely to be participating in employer pension plans; once they’ve left the workforce, they have a terrible time getting rehired, largely because age discrimination, which is against the law, is directed particularly at women who are past the age where society deems them attractive.”

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Anna Wintour. Image via Getty.

Women over 40 end up “underemployed” in jobs where they are not extended and their abilities are not recognised.

“If we want the next generation of women to be strong, assertive, and demanding in this environment, we have to give them models that show them how,” Miller says.

Amen to that.

 

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