Challenges and Opportunities
Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou
Chapter 11: Age stereotypes and discrimination
Considerable scientific, legal, and public effort has been devoted to understanding and remedying workplace discrimination. Despite positive strides in recognizing and addressing discrimination due to sex and race, many other forms of stereotypes and discrimination, such as ageism, quietly prevail in the workforce. At best, employers and coworkers are simply unaware of ageist attitudes and behavior (e.g., failing to invite an older coworker to a social outing); at worst, they condone and even encourage them (e.g., telling age-based jokes, actively dismissing a young coworker’s contribution). This chapter focuses on ageism, a form of discrimination still often tacitly accepted in Western societies. As the workforce becomes increasingly multi-generational and as the number of older workers continues to rise, age-related stereotypes and discrimination (the cognitive and behavioural manifestations of ageism, respectively) become increasingly important to address. This chapter explores ageism as it is directed toward both older and younger workers. I consider differences and similarities in their experiences, diverse in age as these workers may be. I also discuss the practical implications of ageism or, put differently, why organizations should care about this matter. In addition, I consider several of the many actions organizations and employees can take to reduce the presence and negative effects of ageism. I conclude by suggesting future directions for researchers interested in tackling the pervasive problem of ageism in the workplace.
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