A recent study published by the National Bureau for Economic Research finds that employers discriminate against older women at higher rates than older men. The researchers sent out about 40,000 fake resumes to employers and tracked how the employers responded to the resumes. They found that women aged 64-66 got calls from employers 12% of the time and women aged 29-31 got calls from employers 19% of the time, a statistically significant difference. Interestingly, with the exception of janitorial jobs, older men got calls from employers at approximately the same rate as younger men.
This fake resume study method is the same method that researchers have used in other studies. The method is considered more reliable than observing how employers treat real people because the researchers can ensure that the fake applicants have the same qualifications which is difficult to do when you study treatment of real people who each have their own unique qualifications.
After finding these gender disparities in age discrimination, the researchers pondered what drove the gender disparities. One of the researchers thought the gender disparity might be due to societal views on the attractiveness of older men as opposed to older women. “There is some evidence that people’s rating of attractiveness diminishes more quickly for older women than older men,” said the researcher.
One limitation of this study is that the researchers sent resumes to a relatively narrow group of employers. They may have detected more age discrimination against men if the researchers had included more types of employers in their study. As mentioned above, the researchers detected age discrimination in the janitorial field. This may have occurred because of the stereotype that older men are less able to perform physically demanding jobs than younger men. Similar physically demanding jobs, such as landscapers or facilities maintenance employees, may have shown age discrimination at rates similar to the janitorial jobs that the researchers studied.
If you’re a woman that has experienced age discrimination because of your status as an older woman, you have been discriminated against based on both your sex and age. There are legal protections for both types of discrimination. You should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about those protections.