Taking a stand against discrimination based on age

Taking a stand against discrimination based on age

Theresa Harrison’s perspective on aging is timeless. At the age of 64, her vitality and skills are remarkable: “I’ve gotten more creative. I am now more creative. I’ve gotten more inquisitive”

Green Street Services, a Baltimore-based technology company she created, handles cybersecurity for the Department of Defense. And she founded the business when she was in her fifties.

Susan Spencer, referring to startup entrepreneurs, stated, “The stereotype is the 19-year-old genius in the garage, correct?”

Harrison stated, “That is me — just add another 30 years.”

In the software industry, though, these 30 years often elicit uncomfortable inquiries: “I’ve been asked my age, ‘How long are you going to work?’ Aren’t you getting tired? Are you planning to remain?'”

Do you believe this has affected your ability to obtain a contract, for example? Spencer asked.

“I believe so, however it’s unfortunate.”

It is a sign of “everyday ageism,” as defined by University of Oklahoma professor Julie Ober Allen.

Imagine someone in their twenties, thirties, or even forties being asked the same questions. Allen stated. “However, for whatever reason, it is socially acceptable to say the same things to a woman in her sixties.

“Everyday ageism refers to comments, interactions, and situations that imply that aging is undesirable. It’s the birthday cards that make jokes about wrinkles and walkers. It refers to exchanges in which someone assumes an older adult cannot utilize their phone or other technological devices. It is also when older persons prefer to believe some of these stereotypes and preconceptions about themselves.

And everyday ageism is prevalent, according to Allen, who conducted a large-scale national survey to measure its prevalence. She discovered that over 93% of older Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 frequently encounter ageist encounters and experiences in their daily lives.

Author Ashton Applewhite stated, “We live in a culture that bombards us from childhood onward, beginning with children’s literature, with messages about how terrible it will be to age and how horrible it is to have any form of incapacity. And if we do not challenge them, they become a part of our identity.”

Applewhite’s only objective is to spread the message. Her novel “This Chair Rocks” advocates for resistance.

Celadon Books

She told Spencer, “My objective is to help spark a grassroots movement, similar to the women’s movement, to raise awareness of ageism, what it is, what it looks like, how it smells, and what we can do to demolish it.”

Applewhite cited appearance-based jokes as an instance of ageism (“It takes twice as long to look half as good”). She stated that everything that links youth with superiority is intrinsically ageist.

Also, anti-aging products such as wrinkle creams. “Absolutely. It’s a multimillion-billion-dollar industry designed to encourage us all to believe that older adults’ appearance is unattractive.”

Spencer said, “What do you respond when someone compliments your youthful appearance?”

“The only snappy response I’ve devised in all this time is, ‘You look terrific for your age, too!'” Applewhite was amused. “And let that sit there. Because many age-based remarks are frequently well-intended. This is meant to be a compliment. However, I cannot accept your complement. It implies that there is a definite appearance at a certain age. And no such thing exists.”

Even the 79-year-old President of the United States is not immune to age jokes. “Because of the age group he represents, it’s thought to have something to do with it when our president falls off his bike,” said professor Allen. “People across the nation frequently lose control of their bicycles. However, if they are not in this older age range, the explanations given for why it occurred are often quite different.”

“So, it’s all well and good to say, ‘Well, we must eliminate these mindsets,’ but how?” Spencer asked.

Allen responded, “I believe the first thing is to raise awareness; it’s sort of a precondition.” “But also to begin making the point that ageism is detrimental to health – and that it is destructive.”

Ageism is detrimental to our emotional and physical health. As a source of chronic stress, it can increase the risk for a diverse array of chronic diseases. Allen stated, “We’ve also discovered that ageism is connected with premature death; persons who experience higher ageism are significantly more likely to die at a younger age.”

In contrast, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those with a positive outlook on aging live an average of seven and a half years longer. And evidence demonstrates that optimistic attitudes might have health benefits.

Theresa Harrison believes this to be true; she asserts that a happy attitude can produce extraordinary outcomes, as she and her thriving business demonstrate. Contrary to our preconceived notions about aging, she is not unusual.

Professor J. Daniel Kim of the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania recently discovered that great entrepreneurs are not kids in garages. 42 is the average age of a prosperous entrepreneur.

Spencer asked, “Statistically, if I’m 50 and considering starting a tech startup, am I more likely to be successful than if I’m 30?”

Kim responded “absolutely” “Vera Wang was forty years old when she established her fashion brand. Walmart’s Sam Walton was 44. Bernie Marcus was 51 years old at Home Depot.

According to Theresa Harrison, she continues on regardless of her age, not in spite of it.

Spencer informed her, “You’re motivational.” “When I’m older, I’ll take all of this to heart.”

“Please do!” Harrison was amused. It maintains my youth!

 

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