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Fighting the New Ageism in America

University of Chicago Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

This innovative look at the rising scourge of ageism combines an activist’s fervor with a realist’s sensitive touch.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Margaret Morganroth Gullette’s intelligent, personal book illuminates biases about aging that probably affect your company, without most of the people who work there being consciously aware of it. Gullette explains the roots of ageism. She provides informative anti-stereotyping statistics; for example, memory problems affect just 20% of those older than 65. Her book also offers suggestions for fighting ageism in the workplace and in society at large, and ideas that will prove useful to those whose work requires planning for demographic changes in the labor pool. Even though her arguments may be densely worded and roam across a wide, not always unified, range, getAbstract recommends Gullette’s impassioned insights to HR managers, hiring managers and executives whose policies and practices must integrate new ideas about aging.


The Newest Workforce Crisis

Companies with labor pools whose members are getting older must deal with problems of ageism in the workplace, the marketplace and the general society. The problem isn’t aging itself; it’s everything surrounding aging: stereotypes and cultural myths, economies and markets, hiring practices, media biases, and even the retirement – or lack of retirement – of the bulging baby boom generation. These forces – the bias, discrimination and the “decline ideology” that describe aging – combine in society, government, the economy and the business world to create a crisis.

Ageism pervades the workplace. “Eliminating midlife workers has become a tacit business practice” in the US and other developed countries. As bankruptcies increase among baby boomers, job hunters in that cohort knock years off their applications and take dated “credentials off their résumés.” In the US, older unemployed people stay unemployed longer than younger people. “After age 45, almost half the unemployed” take a half-year or longer to find work again. In this atmosphere, people in their 50s and 60s face dropping employment rates. In the 1990s, 95% of men aged 50 to 55 were...

About the Author

Culture studies expert Margaret Morganroth Gullette, author of Aged by Culture and Declining to Decline, is the resident scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center.

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