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Scoping It Out: Ageism in the 21st Century

taylor rileyOWENSBORO, Ky. (10/10/13) - Ageism can come in many forms. It’s in the form of a gray-haired grandmother being cursed at by a speedy traveler on the highway or it could be an aging adult not being hired for a job based on the thought of physical inabilities.

Although most people think of ageism being against the later generations, youth can feel the effects of discrimination, too. Modern youth can sometimes be described as incompetent, lazy, and rebellious to their older counterparts. As a person in my 20s, I have witnessed this first hand. When I was first applying for jobs, I noticed that every entry-level position I was hoping for, required two to three years experience. I remember thinking, “How in the world am I going to get experience if no one gives me the chance?”

You could have a better education or more knowledge about the job, but experience means everything in the competitive job market. It’s frustrating, especially when you’re trying to break into an entry-level job right out of college. But, according to national laws, these requirements of age and experience might actually be unlawful.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law “forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”

Before you make the judgment on whether or not the law supports post-graduates, you have to consider the experience that 20-somethings have that‘s not in the workplace. Think about it this way, Generation Y-ers, like myself, that were born in the 1990s, have lived to see three decades, two centuries, and one millennium. Considering if a millennial was born in 1990 in the United States, they’ve seen world-changing events like the rise of mass communication and the Internet, four presidential administrations, three recessions, three wars, and to me, the most influential event of my generation--9/11. All of these things have developed and expanded our knowledge on how the world works and what it takes to live in our world.

I’m not calling for a youth revolt. I’m just calling for respect. We may not have the age, but we do have the experience. We may be in our twenties but we’ve lived and learned. If we put in the same work, we deserve the same result. Ageism is unfortunately growing prevalent in the workplace, but if we keep pushing forward, we can shake off the “slacker” stereotypes.

Demand respect and you’ll get it.

Taylor Riley
SurfKY News

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