Business of Men

You’re too young … and now you’re too old

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The joys of being a woman in business are nearly endless — no really they are. For a start, we live longer than men. We’re more likely to survive a huge range of illnesses (because we’re sensible enough to get professional help when we suspect something is wrong). We have superior communication skills, more interesting wardrobes, and greater hairstyle choices. 

Yes, life can be glorious. But there are the downsides in business — mainly the gender pay gap and the glass ceiling. And to those two, you can add the common experience of being told you are too young and inexperienced for a role or an opportunity; that is then given to a male counterpart the same age (and with less experience). 

Whereas a woman is overlooked, men are praised for being so young and talented. And for a woman, after you have invested 20 years into yourself, your career and education, it’s not uncommon to then be told you are now too old and you don’t have your finger on the pulse. 

This is a form of agesim wrapped up in sexism. Shall we call it sagism? 

I remember attending a business networking event where the guest speaker was the newly-appointed CEO of a large sporting franchise. A man. 

He was 32. Praised as being one of a kind. A strategic thinker. A bright spark. It was said he just had to be snapped up in a flash — and he was.

Let’s reverse this scenario: picture a 32-year-old woman with big ideas, a strategic mind and passion. She would be lucky reach manager level for the same organisation. No doubt, just for being female, she would have been told that her ideas are unrealistic, she doesn’t have enough experience or wisdom and is too emotional for such a leadership position. 

A double standard of massive proportions.

Woman are faced with this scenario every day in every industry, whether they are a business owner or climbing the corporate ladder. Putting their hands up for positions or projects but being told they are not ready for the role — and we wonder why they eventually give up or why we don’t have many women in senior positions?

For decades, the only solution — besides going out of your own and pushing yourself as hard as you can, also building powerful alliances (and even then maybe not succeeding because of the same reasons) — was to invest another 10-20 years of your life into your career in order to build the ‘credibility and experience’ you were told you didn’t have in order to secure those top spots.

Then you are hit once again. 

This time you are not young enough, fresh enough and you don’t ‘have your fingers on the pulse’. So your experience and wisdom that was labelled as lacking when you were younger is now the exact reason you are once again overlooked for a leadership position.

And we wonder why women just give up and walk away from applying for the top jobs.

If you want to build a pool of women for senior executive, leadership and board positions then we need to start recognising talent and ability at a younger age — while also appreciating the powerful truth that having experience in an industry or role is a huge competitive advantage.  

Otherwise nothing will change. Ever.

About Amanda Rose

Founder and CEO of The Business Woman Media. Amanda Rose is also the only 'strategic connector', a brand strategist, keynote speaker and host of Amanda Rose TV. Connect with Amanda Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or visit www.amandaroseofficial.com.

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