Unhindered Conversations: Filipinas on Age Discrimination at Work
Age discrimination affects young and old workers. Read how four Filipina professionals overcome stereotypes and preconceptions at the workplace.
Age discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly or denied opportunities because they're deemed too young or too old. It goes largely unnoticed because the prejudices have become ingrained in Filipino culture. But it's no secret that age bias can be particularly hurtful in the workplace.
Here, four Filipina professionals* share their experiences on overcoming preconceived notions about their generations. They hope their ordeals inspire others to embrace age diversity and recognize that birthday candles on a cake do not determine talent or skills.
Competency vs Seniority
Although Kam, 27, has been running her wedding planning company for four years, she continues to face judgment and condescension from business colleagues."I once called someone out for disruptive multitasking during a meeting. He thought I was being 'sensitive' and didn't see it as inattentiveness. He said he has been a multitasker far longer than I've worked,” she says.
"It's so emotionally draining to deal with people who look down on me despite my track record. I think I could do way more if only we skipped the stage where I have to prove myself to an older crowd."
Kam tries to deal with doubters by letting her work speak for itself. However, presumptions about have made her more vigilant about how she conducts herself."I feel an added pressure to remain level-headed and avoid sounding like a complainer – a stereotype associated with younger people. So, I make an effort to be mindful of my behavior."
Tagged as Less Reliable
Studio owner Kim, 30, often heard the words "Ang bata niyo pa" to describe her and her production team. She wanted to view the remark as a compliment, but the message was obviously "inexperienced and incapable of delivering."
Kim learned her lesson when an agency became dismissive of her team's skills and relegated them to filing paperwork. "Our age was used against us. Agencies took advantage of it."
Despite her unpleasant experiences, Kim feels society has become more open to hiring people of all ages. But ageism needs to be discussed more often to dispel age misconceptions.
"In a Filipino household, it is a must to respect the opinions of those who are older even when they are wrong. I don't know the best advice (to combat age discrimination). But start talking about it at home first."
Judged by Their Looks
Rachelle, a content editor and teacher in her late 40s, is frustrated over assumptions about her appearance. Fellow parents at her son's school would ask if she was his son’s lola. Sales personnel would request her senior citizen's card for purchases.
"When I don't dye my salt-and-pepper hair, someone would immediately direct me to the senior citizen/priority line at fast food restaurants!" Rachelle shares. She finds these "honest mistakes" worrisome because they pigeonhole people for their age and looks. If it happens at the workplace, it leads to missed and development opportunities. Just look at online job postings, Rachelle says.
"When I was looking for a job, I discovered I was way out of the age range of about 90 percent of the job openings. There was an age limit, usually 35 years old. I find it very sad when someone older with a wealth of experience gets replaced because of their undesirableage."
Rachel is not afraid to speak up when she hears someone making an "innocent" remark, especially if it perpetuates ageism. She believes that everyone could benefit from becoming more mindful of their biases and taking steps to address them. "See the person for their unique skills, personality, and experience, rather than reducing them to the token senior citizen in society," she says.
Presumed Resistant to Change
School administrator Beth, 43, has spent three decades shepherding students, a job that requires an inclusive attitude. However, when she joined an art school last year, her young team automatically concluded she would be an old-fashioned manager.
"My staff (their ages ranged from 25 to 35) thinks I am too conservative. They tend to 'educate' me that times have changed. Thus, I need to be more forgiving of their 'uniqueness.' One time, we discussed the student dress code (our school doesn't have a uniform), and I felt like I was defending my values," Beth shares with a laugh.
Navigating complex scenarios like these requires Beth to strike a delicate balance. While her expertise makes her a trusted authority on student issues, she often needs to explain her decisions to assure her staff that their contributions are respected and valued.
Persuading young workers that she isn't resistant to change exhausts Beth. But the seasoned teacher understands how vital it is to keep communication lines open to discuss – and unlearn –.
When it's her staff's turn to lead, Beth's fervent wish is they pass on the lessons about age discrimination from their time together. "I hope they focus on a person's competencies, skills, and strengths rather than age."
Breaking Barriers WithSelf-Care
Age discrimination can seriously mess with your confidence. However, having reminders that you are always worth investing in can be helpful. A self-love kit can be a great way to do it.
Skincare is a personal decision – what you focus on and decide to address is entirely your call. POND'S Age Miracle Anti-Aging Day Cream SPF 18 with Retinol C and Niacinamide for Skin Renewal combats wrinkles, dry skin, and hyperpigmentation. It's never too early or too late to start using it as its active ingredients keep the skin looking fresh and supple at any age.
Age discrimination at work is plenty to deal with – you don’t want to have to find fallen hairs on your floor, too. If damaged, brittle locks are your concern, try Dove Botanical Silicone Free Shampoo for Damaged Hair Restore. Its gentle, silicone-free formula made with 100% botanical oil with pink Moroccan rose can restore shine to hair.
Finally, protect your oral health with closeup Gel Toothpaste with Antibacterial Zinc Menthol Fresh. This gel toothpaste has Antibacterial Zinc that gives you fresh breath and removes 99.9% of germs (as per a lab test on select bacteria) with regular use.
As you enjoy some self-pampering, remember that combating age discrimination starts from within. Embrace your uniqueness, own your experience, and let self-care be the armor that shields you from any negativity. Finally, women of all ages are subject to unfair standards and stereotypes – your best chance of being heard is by responding with compassion.
*Last names withheld upon request.