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Consuming to work: gendered ageism in the Australian labour market Susan Ainsworth and Leanne Cutcher Work and Organisational Studies The University of.

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Presentation on theme: "Consuming to work: gendered ageism in the Australian labour market Susan Ainsworth and Leanne Cutcher Work and Organisational Studies The University of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Consuming to work: gendered ageism in the Australian labour market Susan Ainsworth and Leanne Cutcher Work and Organisational Studies The University of Sydney

2 Intersection of 2 trends: gendered aspects Workforce ageing and age discrimination in employment Increased consumption of anti-ageing products and services

3 Workforce ageing and age discrimination in employment By 2021, 20% of Australia’s population will be over 65 (Encel 2003) By 2021, 20% of Australia’s population will be over 65 (Encel 2003) Australia’s workforce participation rates for men and women are among the lowest in the OECD (OECD 2005) Australia’s workforce participation rates for men and women are among the lowest in the OECD (OECD 2005) Progress in combating age discrimination slow and uneven (Duncan 2001; Glover & Branine 2001; Loretto & White 2006; McGoldrick & Arrowsmith 2001; Redman & Snape 2002; Taylor & Walker 1998; Urwin 2006) Progress in combating age discrimination slow and uneven (Duncan 2001; Glover & Branine 2001; Loretto & White 2006; McGoldrick & Arrowsmith 2001; Redman & Snape 2002; Taylor & Walker 1998; Urwin 2006)

4 Workforce ageing and age discrimination in employment Negative stereotypes persist despite large body of evidence debunking them (Encel 1999; Johnson & Zimmerman 1993; Laczko and Phillipson 1991; Metcalf with Meadows 2006) Negative stereotypes persist despite large body of evidence debunking them (Encel 1999; Johnson & Zimmerman 1993; Laczko and Phillipson 1991; Metcalf with Meadows 2006) These stereotypes have been found to influence employment related decisions (Avolio & Barrett 1987; Brooke and Taylor 2005; Ferris, Yates, Gilmore & Rowland 1985; Finkelstein, Burke & Raju 1995; Rosen & Jerdee 1976) These stereotypes have been found to influence employment related decisions (Avolio & Barrett 1987; Brooke and Taylor 2005; Ferris, Yates, Gilmore & Rowland 1985; Finkelstein, Burke & Raju 1995; Rosen & Jerdee 1976) Organisations tend to use young, vibrant bodies as symbols of their brand ethos (Tyler & Abbott 1998; Pettinger 2004; Spiess & Waring 2005) Organisations tend to use young, vibrant bodies as symbols of their brand ethos (Tyler & Abbott 1998; Pettinger 2004; Spiess & Waring 2005)

5 Cultural meaning of ageing Ageing is an embodied and gendered process (Tulle-Winton 1999) Ageing is an embodied and gendered process (Tulle-Winton 1999) Western societies: ageing is problematic, negative (Gullette 1997; Warren 1998) Western societies: ageing is problematic, negative (Gullette 1997; Warren 1998) “Successful ageing” = the extent to which you can minimise or hide it (Andrews 1999) “Successful ageing” = the extent to which you can minimise or hide it (Andrews 1999) Rise of anti-ageing industries

6 Why is it problematic? 1. Contributes to cultural repression of older age groups 2. Physical limits to which ageing can be hidden or masked 3. To what extent do people face discrimination in employment because they present an ‘old’ appearance ?

7 Implications Individual –How much time and money is spent trying to look younger so people can compete in the labour market? Organisational –Are they limiting themselves by using images of youth to appeal to a customer base which is itself ageing? –Are they limiting their potential workforce by explicit or implicit age bias in their corporate image? Government –Does this ageism undermine attempts to increase the workforce participation of older Australians?

8 Getting the real picture Focus groups –Pilot with women –Larger study will include men –Self-nominate If you or your organisation are interested in being involved in the focus groups please contact either Susan or Leanne or Phone (02)

9 References Andrews, M ‘The seductiveness of agelessness’, Ageing and Society 19: Avolio, B.J. & Barrett, G.V ‘Effects of age stereotyping in a simulated interview’, Psychology and Ageing, 2: Baurillard, Jean (1998) Consumer Society: Myths and Structures, ranslated Chris Turner, Sage Publications, Ltd, London. Brooke, L. & Taylor, P ‘Older workers and employment: managing age relations’, Ageing and Society, 25: Duncan, C ‘Ageism, early exit, and the rationality of age-based discrimination’, in Ageism in work and employment, I. Glover and M. Branine (eds), Aldershot: Ashgate. Encel, S Productivity of mature age workers. Paper presented at Older Australians: A Working Future? Adelaide, 7-9 November. Encel, S Age can work: the case for older Australians staying in the workforce. A report to the ACTU and BCA. Ferris, Yates, Gilmore & Rowland 1985 Finkelstein, L.M., Burke, M.J. & Raju, N.S ‘Age discrimination in simulated employment contexts: an integrative analysis’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 80: Glover, I. & Branine, M ‘Introduction: the challenge of longer and healthier lives’, in Ageism in work and employment. I. Glover and M. Branine (eds), Aldershot: Ashgate. Gullette, M.M Declining to decline: cultural combat and the politics of the midlife. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Johnson, P. & Zimmerman, K.F ‘Ageing and the European labour market: public policy issues’, in Labour markets in an ageing Europe. P. Johnson and K.F. Zimmerman (eds), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lacsko, F. & Phillipson, C Changing work and retirement:. Buckingham: Open University Press. Loretto, W. & White, P ‘Employers’ attitudes, practices and policies towards older workers’, Human Resource Management Journal, 16:

10 References McGoldrick, A.E. & Arrowsmith, J ‘Discrimination by age: the organizational response’, in Ageism in work and employment, I. Glover and M. Branine (eds), Aldershot: Ashgate. Metcalf, H. with Meadows. P Survey of employers’ policies, practices and preferences relating to age, Research Report 325, DTI Employment Relations Research Series 49, Department for Work and Pensions. OECD 2005 Ageing and Employment Policies: Australia. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Pettinger, L ‘Gendered work meets gendered goods: selling and service in clothing retail’, Gender, Work and Organization, 12(5): Redman, T. & Snape, E ‘Ageism in teaching: stereotypical beliefs and discriminatory attitudes towards the over-50s’, Work, Employment and Society, 16: Rosen, B. & Jerdee, T.H ‘The influence of age stereotypes on managerial decisions’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 61: Speiss, L. & Waring, P ‘Aesthetic labour, cost minimization and the labour process in the Asia Pacific airline industry’, Employee Relations, 27(1/2): Taylor, P. & Walker, A ‘Employers and older workers: attitudes and employment practices’, Ageing and Society, 18: Tulle-Winton, E ‘Growing old and resistance: towards a new cultural economy of old age?’ Ageing and Society, 19: Tyler, M. & Abbott, P “Chocs away: weightwatching in the contemporary airline industry’, Sociology, 32(3): Urwin, P ‘Age discrimination: legislation and human capital accumulation’, Employee Relations, 28: Warren, C.A.B ‘Aging and identity in premodern times’, Research on Aging, 20(1): Wolkowitz, C 2006, Body Work, Palgrave, London.


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