Last Thursday, on the Washington DC Metro, a woman sitting in front of me spoke to a seat mate about ageism, a term first coined by Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute of Aging (NIA).
As I eavesdropped, the woman on the Metro spoke about comments from younger colleagues, the tendency of some to roll their eyes when she speaks, and remarks about her retirement, still about five years away if she waits until she is 65. “I feel so unwelcome,” she commented,” that sometimes I make jokes about my own retirement just to counteract what I hear.”
Yet as the conversation went on — my apologies for listening in — it was clear that this woman loved her job and was engaged in her work. Lots of people in their late 50s and 60’s can identify with this situation.
So I read with interest the November 10, 2013, Washington Post article, In an Era Plagued by Ageism, NIH Prizes Older Workers. Written by Post reporter Tara Bahrampour, the report details how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a work environment that accepts — and even celebrates — its older and veteran staff members. The article also includes a link to the AARP 2013 list of best employers for people over age 50.
A Few Interesting Excerpts
- This year, NIH topped AARP’s list of best employers for workers over 50, based on criteria including career development opportunities, workplace accommodations, flexible scheduling, job sharing and other employee benefits.
- NIH offers perks with particular appeal for older employees, including flexible work schedules, generous telecommuting policies, opportunities to mentor younger workers and fitness programs geared for older bodies.
- The benefits were not part of a master plan but rather something that evolved, said Phil Lenowitz, deputy director of NIH’s office of human resources.
- A big draw for scientists such as Waldmann is the ability to view a project in terms of decades, rather than years.
Read the entire article to learn much more.
A Few More Links Where You Can Learn About Ageism
- Dr. Robert Butler, Founding Director of the National Institute on Aging – July 2010, AsOurParentsAge
- Multigenerational Teams Work Best – June 2011, AsOurParentsAge
- Ageism in Action – September 2013, Huffington Post,
- Readers Offer Tales of Silicon Valley Ageism – August 2013, SF Gate (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Ageism and Millennials – Part I and Part II – Dr. Bill Thomas’ Changing Aging blog
- Ageism in America – 2006, A PDF of a comprehensive report published by Dr. Robert Butler and the International Longevity Center (also founded by Dr. Butler).
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