What Employers and Workers Can Do to Combat Gendered Ageism in the Workplace 

March 21, 2024

Ways to work together to eliminate gender-age bias in the workplace

The term gendered ageism refers to the intersection of age and gender discrimination, and older women workers are the most likely to face what’s been called this “double jeopardy.” In fact, while 72% of women between the ages of 45 and 74 said they think people face age discrimination at work, only 57% of men in the same age range said so.

We recently looked at the challenges faced by older women in the workforce including earning power, career advancement, and age/gender/race intersectionality. In this article, we’ll present a few ways that organizations and older workers can collaborate to combat gendered ageism.

Implement inclusive hiring practices

Reduce bias at the source by adopting inclusive hiring practices. This means actively seeking out candidates from diverse age groups and backgrounds, including older female workers.

Employers who use an applicant tracking system (ATS) can consider anonymized resume screening (also known as blind hiring), which strips resumes of identifying information such as name, age, and educational institution names that can activate unconscious bias.

Panel interviews should consist of diverse teams. Structured interviews, where every candidate is asked the same question, should also be standard practice. And job descriptions should avoid ageist language such as “fresh,” “digital native,” and “high potential.”

For their part, older workers can remove age identifiers by omitting graduation years when relevant and not listing any jobs dating back more than 10-15 years.

Make age inclusivity part of DEI initiatives

Older female worker with colleague
Intergenerational mentorship opportunities promote age-gender inclusive environments.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter.”

Ageism in the workplace can be as overt as this, but it tends to show up in subtle ways such as tombstones for an “over-the-hill” birthday party or jokes about an older worker needing glasses or a hearing aid. Treat ageism as you would any other form of anti-bias training by educating staff on identifying and avoiding ageist and sexist language.

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that up to five generations are working in the workplace, intergenerational mentorship programs with an effort toward varying gender pairings can also foster age-gender inclusive work environments and benefit workers across the age and gender spectrum.

By advocating for and participating in these initiatives, older women workers help open the dialogue that fosters empathy, challenges stereotypes, and promotes a culture of respect and inclusivity.

Promote diversity in leadership

Actively promote diversity in leadership positions by considering older women workers, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, for leadership roles. This sends a powerful message that age and gender are not barriers to career advancement within the organization.

At the same time, a diverse leadership team starts early. Employers should shape a leadership succession plan to create a pipeline of age- and gender-diverse future leaders.

Invest in training and education

Job training is decidedly age-biased, an issue further compounded by gender. As noted by the Center for American Progress, over the next decade, 42% of the growth of the labor force will come from individuals ages 55 and older, with most of this growth coming from women in this age group. Yet, older women often find their path to mobility hindered by a lack of access to training, upskilling, or re-skilling.

Employers can ensure training opportunities are offered without bias by providing a variety of formats (digital, in-person, self-paced) and promoting mentorships for soft-skills training.


Diverse workforces are proven to be more productive. As the workforce ages—by 2028, more than 25% of the workforce will be aged 55 or older—confronting gendered ageism needs to become part of every organization. By implementing strategies to combat gendered ageism, employers and workers both can create a more inclusive and age-friendly workplace, reducing discrimination and promoting equal opportunities for all employees.