While nobody said the road to economic recovery would be an easy one, it does provide a particular set of challenges if you’re a woman over the age of 50. A recent national study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that women over the age of 50 accounted for half of the long-term unemployed.
“Women, because of traditional sex roles that’s a legacy of patriarchy and sexism, often do valuable work that gets zero compensation,” Ghilarducci says. “So taking time off to raise a family, to care for older parents, to go to PTA meetings or to do the generative work of a community, that’s valued in the labor market at zero.”
Even if they lack more formal job experience, older women have gained skills throughout their lives that can be valuable in the workplace, Ghilarducci says. Employers who consider those experiences when hiring could benefit from these women’s skills.
“Employers could actually win if they realize that if they just look a little harder and go beyond stereotypes, that the women who want to work at older ages could actually have a whole host of experiences,” she says. “A smart employer could get a pretty good deal if they look beyond the historical zero valuation of women’s labor and hire a lot of older women.”
Ghilarducci points to the successes of women, in general, in male-dominated industries that breaking stereotypes can prove to be profitable.
“You’ve seen women move into all sorts of areas where men have dominated, real estate sales, bartending, bank telling, bankers,” Ghilarducci says. “When employers cracked the ceiling and kind of opened that up, you actually have expansion of those sectors and more profits.”