Fran Braga Meininger
Ageism Among Women
As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for conferences and women’s groups to affiliate with and further my work. So, when a national organization announced their women’s content provider’s conference, I couldn’t click through fast enough.
It sounded perfect for me. The location was convenient, the conference dates fit my schedule and my latest project fit perfectly into the overall theme.
But I didn’t.
As I scanned the photos from previous conferences, something was painfully obvious and glaringly absent. There was not one silver headed woman in the crowd of hundreds. Not one.
It seemed this was a conference of women’s health and lifestyle content providers that somehow left us out, ignored that we existed and focused only on women up to a certain age. I was appalled. But not surprised.
There are only a few writers exploring the topic of how this generation is aging. But it’s timely, important and the field is growing. There are just too many mature women to be ignored. We are the largest population bubble in history to reach this stage of life and a women’s content provider’s conference that completely discounted that trend was inexplicable.
I decided to inquire, to see if I would be welcome. I sent off a message introducing myself and waited for their reply. I’m still waiting, a year later.
My guess is they read my message and didn’t know what to say. Would they have a place for a 65-year-old woman who doesn’t write about skin care, hair care or child care?
I get that I’m not their demographic. But why not? I’m still a woman. How did I, and we, get left out?
It's possible younger generations may not welcome us to be a part of their gatherings because they don’t share our issues as theirs. They may have convinced themselves they won’t look or feel like us when they reach our era. I didn’t expect to either.
But whether they realize it or not, we have something to offer them. We have a collective wisdom and a perspective on life that has merit. Our stories and experiences could help illuminate their path.
Even if we aren’t invited to be a part of their session about nutrition while breast feeding or balancing a career with a growing family, there’s plenty we could talk about. We’ve lived through those years and possess insight into where they are now.
It’s disheartening to be excluded, especially by women. Discrimination and ageism are unacceptable especially among women and we need to address it. We can’t continue to be exclusive, segregated and discriminatory. If we are to take our rightful place in this world we must pull together, to form communities that strengthen and empower us all.
The recent elections demonstrated the power of motivated, engaged and strategic women. We are an undeniable force when we work together. We change minds, improve conditions and create opportunities. But in order to activate that power, we need to recognize we are all part of the greater whole and treat each other with respect, kindness and acceptance.
Come on, Ladies, let’s put this idea forward in our lives - note it, keep it present in our thoughts and intentions, constantly watching for opportunities to pull another woman forward, asking directions from women who are farther along the path and most of all do our best to recognize the value within us all.