A Twitter user who was fired from her workplace for her age has highlighted how difficult the experience can be, inspiring other women to do the same.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 21, 2022. It has since been updated.
The workforce can be a hostile space for women. From the gender wage gap to sexual harassment in the workplace, working women face several barriers of inequity when it comes to succeeding at their jobs. In addition to these systemic challenges, one woman has highlighted what it is like to have a so-called "expiration date" slapped onto her time in the workforce. Elektra, who goes by the username Elektra6618 on Twitter, has started an important discussion about how ageism disproportionately affects women in comparison to their male counterparts. Since it was first posted, her tweet has gained thousands of likes and retweets from others who found the practice of expiry dates unacceptable.
Life-long gender discrimination often leaves older women more financially dependent than older men. Women must have equal opportunity to contribute to the workforce to be able to age with dignity.— Dr. Natalia Kanem /she/her/ella/ (@Atayeshe) October 1, 2021
More on the Int'l Day of Older Persons: https://t.co/Jk33vYViIS#ForEveryAge pic.twitter.com/w0RWaF3BMT
"I need a hug," the Twitter user shared. "At 50, we women become invisible. I'm now 62. I lost my job and was replaced by a 25-year-old. [My workplace has] been trying to find a way to get rid of me for three years now. They covered all their bases. It's humiliating and so hurtful. I was good at what I did. I just aged out." Complicating the issue, Elektra is a single woman with a grown autistic child at home who may not be independent any time soon. Hence, she cannot retire. Her tweet has gained over 4,000 retweets and 64,000 likes. However, what was most important was the responses she received. Hundreds of women began sharing their own experiences through their own posts.
For instance, one Twitter user replied, "I know the feeling well. I lost my dream job to COVID after five years at age 60. [It has been] 15 months with the occasional interview. I sound youthful on the phone but once they saw me in Zoom calls they would pass. I was not ready to be ‘retired’ but knew there was a very real possibility [I would have to]." Another user added, "The number of single unemployed women in their 50s is unbelievable. It happened to me too. [I am] better off now at 67 with my pension. It is like throwing us to the wolves after we've helped build viable businesses. Shameful."
Not worth the time or money. This isn’t anything new, happens to women all the time. Not being complacent. It’s time for a new path, new journey to find something new and exciting. I write books, grants for non profits and advocate for womens right to choose. We may age, not stop— Kacie (@Kaceesthoughts) January 19, 2022
Meanwhile, business owners and human resource managers also chimed in about how important it is for employers to recognize and appropriately value work experience and years of accumulated knowledge. "I hire people older than me all the time (male and female)," Harmeet K. Dhillon, the founder of a San Francisco litigation team, stated. "They have wisdom and a work ethic many younger workers cannot match. [I am] sorry this happened to you (possibly illegal), but it's a great market right now for people who WANT to work!" In a later tweet, she discussed the importance of fair compensation. She affirmed, "[Older, valued people] know what they are worth and are paid accordingly."
According to a study published by the Journal of Human Resources, older women whose high school graduation dates implied an age of 50, 55, or 62 were significantly less likely to receive interview offers than younger women. Furthermore, for each additional 10 years of age, a woman in Massachusetts for instance would need to submit five additional applications on average. This, coupled with cuts to social security programs such as Medicare, may leave older women with difficulty finding alternative sources of income. Elektra, of course, is no stranger to this reality. In order to build more inclusive workforces, it is time for employers to recognize and correctly value the experience older workers, and women, in particular, can bring to their businesses.