Gendered ageism: how can we beat the cumulative bias women face?

WM People has launched an e-book for International Women’s Day on the various issues that combine to create the gender pension gap.

Three generations of women, girl, young woman, middle aged woman all looking off camera

 

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WM People is publishing an e-book on gendered ageism for International Women’s Day to highlight the issues facing older women at work and to join the dots between gender diversity policies through a woman’s working life.

The e-book, Gendered ageism: how can we beat the cumulative bias women face?, is sponsored by global digital infrastructure company Equinix, which is this week launching an amazing new initiative for women looking to get back to work and develop a career in technology. Its ‘I Am Remarkable’ programme, which includes mentoring and other career transition support, celebrates women’s transferable skills and helps them to reskill for jobs with a genuine career pathway as well as addressing the gender gap in technology.

Gillian Nissim, founder of WM People, said: “This year’s International Women’s Day, where the focus is on addressing bias, we want to showcase what some of the most progressive employers are doing and how it all links up over a working lifetime.”

Gendered ageism is a topic that crosses all of WM People’s websites in that many of the issues that contribute to women’s increased likelihood of encountering financial problems in older age begin or worsen when they have children. WM People has, for instance, long charted the long-term financial impact of career breaks and the unequal care burden faced by women as well as practical initiatives to reduce this, such as flexible working at all levels, equal parental leave policies and returner programmes that help them return to jobs where their experience and skills don’t go to waste.

These issues are cumulative and in part fuel the gender pension gap, which stood at 37.9% in 2020, down from 40.3% in 2019, although it rose for two years in succession before 2019. That is much higher than the gender pay gap which, according to the Office for National Statistics, stands at 7.9% for full-time employees, but 15.4% for all employees – both up on 2020 figures. The ONS remarks that the gap significantly worsens as women enter their 40s, after many have children.

The issues affecting older women in the workplace have got some attention of late. For instance, there has been a lot of focus of late paid to the experience of menopausal women in the workplace, with various surveys and events highlighting high drop-out rates and an impact on working hours. And there has also been a growing awareness of the number of older women who have dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic and are now classed as ‘economically inactive’. Health seems to be a key issue, but WM People feels more research is needed into the reasons, the impact on longer-term financial wellbeing and on potential poverty and dependence in old age.

Nissim contintues: “Now seems to be the right time to shine a light on older women at work – not just how to retain them, in a labour market characterised by mass shortages, but also how to attract them back.”

In January, workingwise.co.uk launched a survey to find out the experience of older women in the workforce in view of concerns about the gender pension gap.

Some preliminary findings of the Age and Gender Survey 2022, sponsored by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, feature in the e-book alongside analysis of the issues that contribute to the gender pension gap and case studies which show what some of the most progressive employers are doing to address it.

*To download the e-book, click here.



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