I seek women of my age or stage who look cool and proud and smart and stylish and modern. I imagine they recognize one or more of these qualities in me and we acknowledge each other as we pass, silently. ‘I see you, lady!’
A blog post from The Ladders about “What 50 year-olds Know That 20-year-olds Don’t.” I object only to the photo of a woman who’s, like, 80, which makes me suspect that someone who’s, like, 20, chose it. Also, these two are just not helpful.
- “You’re probably a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for being” (notable exception: our stable genius of a president)
- “It’ll all work out” (It will. But that doesn’t mean I will like it.)
This from the heart-breaking poem called “Washing the Elephant.”
And here’s the heart-breaking part:
Washing the Elephant
I’m drawn to articles about ageism, especially as that relates to women who achieved real success and, at the age of 50 or 60 or even older, still have it. “It” being some combination of experience, expertise, management skills, a strong work ethic and the potential to grow in a job. Currency, in a word.
But the workplace views her as a worker whose currency has been so devalued she’s not even considered for positions for which she’s well- (or over-) qualified,
(I see errors I’ll let stand that reveal bias in my own writing: “60 or even older” and “still.”)
An editor and one-time EIC of McCall’s, Sally Koslow is “lucky” enough to have published novels, she writes in The New York Times. So while she doesn’t appear to be struggling, she feels the bias all the same: “In my mid-fifties I was shown the door,” says Koslow, who wrote the novel “Little Pink Slips,” about the magazine world. “The old saw goes that on a deathbed body wishes they’d spent more time at the office, but I suspect many women whose careers stop prematurely do.”
She makes the point that women who choose (and who can choose to) take off a few years, or a decade, to raise children, have a narrow window to achieve success. Rejoin the workforce at 35 or 40 and you have 20 years to succeed. After that, if you’re Koslow, you’re joining “the gig economy,” as she calls it, while admitting that hers is a pretty good gig. On the other hand, a woman I met recently spoke of her current gigs, hustling for video and film projects after having worked on staff at Saturday Night Live. “To make ends meet, she works at the food-sampling table at B.J.’s,” a mutual friend confided to me.
So I join Koslow in her plea to HR people everywhere: “Hire someone’s your mom’s age.”
7 Unexpected Business Lessons I’ve Learned From Millennial Women
I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to mentor millennial women — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more… Read more on Tue/Night >
I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to help millennial women climb the corporate ladder — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more. Famously, there’s Madeleine Albright’s “special place in hell” arguing from the “should” camp (although she’d later characterize the statement as “undiplomatic”). There’s Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s supposition that women feel obligated to not show a gender bias leading the “why they don’t” discussion.
And then there’s the less discussed but pervasive—and patronizing—attitude of a certain kind of senior leader toward her younger female colleagues. The sentiments shared with me, because I am old and it is assumed I will feel the same way: They are entitled, brash, not deferential enough toward leadership, look at their phones when I’m talking in meetings and let’s not even get into what they wear to work. As a theme, the objections are mostly about ignoring social queues and not adhering to “normative” workplace behavior.
It should (but doesn’t) go without saying: what’s “normative” changes constantly. I try to remember this when I find myself rolling my eyes at generational differences in the workplace. It’s also worth knowing they’re rolling their eyes back. I’m thinking of the time I referenced “the ladies room” only to overhear one female employee grousing to another: “why the f***k is a grown-ass woman talking about a ‘ladies room?’” The truth is, adapting to a changing world is how any of us survive— in the workplace and on the planet. And I don’t intend to stop adapting now, even if the change agents are women 35 years younger than I am. A partial list of what I’ve learned:
- Casual references to calories, dieting and “I feel so fat” are not OK
When I was the rising generation, a certain kind of striving-to-be-inclusive female boss would attempt to cozy up with “just us gals” chat like this. Fifty-something leaders, myself included, need to celebrate body positivism as a great leap forward.
- Pronouns matter
I got into a ridiculously heated discussion over using they/them when referring to an individual, so as to honor their not choosing to use he/she/him/her. My wrongheaded objection was based on grammar — an individual can’t use plural pronouns, I said. I was so, so wrong. The argument ends here: yes, they can, whatever Chicago Manual of Style might think.
- (Office) Clothing, optional
Women miss the point when they judge each other on clothing choices: bared midriffs, ripped jeans, lacy bralettes worn over tops. Too long, we’ve had men characterize us by how we dress. Let’s not do that too each other, OK?
- Don’t use prissy punctuation on Slack
I’m an editor. I like a well-placed semi-colon and the proper use of a one-m dash. But Slack (or a text) is not the place for them.
- Stop all that ‘splaining
Sometimes, when you’re the boss of people in the room or simply when you happen to be the one talking, you talk over people about something you know less about than they do. This is a kind of abuse of power, at worst, and borderline offensive, at best. And by “you” I mean “me.”
- Girl, not interrupted
I’ve been stunned—in a good way—at my younger female colleagues easy deflection of manterrupters. It’s not harder than this, as it turns out: “Give me another sec, I haven’t finished my point, Andrew.”
- I am not her mother
There’s slightly icky workplace type called the Office Mom, who helps the young’uns personally and professionally (whether they want her help or not). It’s all too easy to see your daughter or son in like-aged colleagues, but they’re not actually your children, let us remind ourselves to remind ourselves.
Put another way, it’s best to steer clear of anachronisms like “the ladies room.”
How to pronounce deus ex machina (doesn’t come up a lot, but still)
Which direction to cross myself in a Catholic Church: left to right, right?
How to spell commitment without autospell’s help: how many t’s, how many m’s and don’t read too much into this.
The rationale for the Electoral College
To remove my mascara before I get into bed, after which time it’s it’s far, far too late
Not to drink a third glass of wine
Featured at TueNight this week: http://tuenight.com/2017/02/sleepless-in-suburbia/
There’s Alyson Walsh’s blog “That’s Not My Age.” I mean look at her! She’s beautiful and cool and British. And she recently posted this photo of Lauren Hutton. I’m following her (anywhere).
Catherine gets real about “no makeup,” better called “some makeup” and also “lots of makeup.”