A recent survey conducted by Durham Business School and Age with Attitude has explored the attitudes of women of mid-life women in the workplace. The results seem to reveal a mix of personal and professional self-confidence which goes against the typical media stereotypes. However, they also reveal a commonly held belief that they are treated differently and negatively by others as a result of their age.
Surely these findings point towards freelancing and contracting as the way forward?
During the period March‐April 2010, an anonymous online survey invited women over the age of 40 to answer a range of questions about their own beliefs regarding mid‐life as well as those portrayed by the media.
The following is what they had to say about workplace perceptions:
* 68% say they are treated differently to men in the workplace.
* 82% say they are treated differently to younger women
* 68% say it’s still hard to break through the glass ceiling
* 62% say they lose out to men in the promotion steaks.
But the findings become very different when they are asked to evaluate themselves personally:
* 77% say they like themselves more as they get older (self-confidence?)
* 61% say they are happier as they get older
* 55%are more likely to change their career mid-life
* 68% believe they can improve their status in their workplace
What was particularly surprising was how positive the women were about themselves despite a massive 82% feeling that they are treated differently to younger women in the workplace. There seems to be a real contradiction here between how they are seen by society and how they see themselves.
When questioned what the key challenges were in their lives, the highest result showed 58% felt a lack of time to re-focus was the biggest issue.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the general positive views the women held about midlife and this was contrary to the views often portrayed in the media, that midlife women are over the hill and lacking in the confidence or ambition to achieve their goals,” said Lindsey Agness, founder of Age with Attitude. “Having said that, it is clear that whilst these barriers to success may not be as prevalent in the minds of the women in the survey, they are very real in society and as a result are holding many women back from achieving their true potential. ”
Perhaps it’s time for women, who feel their age is being used as a constraint in the workplace, to think about going it alone. Certainly these findings suggest the confidence is there.
Lindsey continued: “What this research says to me is that these women have the desire and motivation to achieve success in later life but don’t always have the skills and techniques to harness this ability. The thought it is there but they often fall down when it comes to converting that thought into action. With the right guidance and a more welcoming society, I predict that midlife women will have a much more prominent and long‐standing role in future society.”
It is highly likely that this ‘more prominent and long-standing role’ will be accelerated by more and more women over the age of 40 starting up their own businesses. We could be on the cusp of a mid-life freelance revolution!
Over 130 women above the age of 40 participated in the survey. They were taken across a wide range of sectors.
Age with Attitude is the personal development programme for mid-life women.