Age discrimination uncovered

Have you faced age discrimination in your daily life? If so, you’re not alone. According to research, two thirds of Australians over 50 feel that they have been subjected to ageism in their day-to-day lives.

Insurance company, Apia has today launched the findings of a social experiment, exposing the hidden age prejudice in contemporary society. This experiment was carried out in conjunction with a national study designed to reveal common perceptions about those aged over 50 in Australia.

In the experiment, a group of people in their 20s and 30s were asked to assess the abilities of a group of people in their 50s and 60s. Despite the older group consisting of a personal trainer, a race car driver and a drone pilot, the individuals in this group were excluded, with the observing group commonly attributing these traits exclusively to younger people. These traits included being ‘fit and healthy’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘energetic’. At the end of the experiment, the younger group was able to meet the older group and discuss their subconscious age discrimination tendencies.

In addition to two thirds of those over 50 feeling the sting of age discrimination, research results also show that this same group feels easily dismissed and misrepresented by the media.

Apia Executive Manager, Geoff Keogh, says the statistics highlight a job to be done: “The research we undertook revealed some startling insights into perceptions of age in Australia. It’s time to break through this stigma and start conversations around the topic. The social experiment highlighted an underlying prejudice that those involved may not have realised existed. Our campaign aims to demonstrate that life experience should be recognised and respected.”

By exposing the hidden age discrimination in Australia, Apia seeks to encourage mass conversation about the problem. It hopes to create a shift where Australians over 50 will be accurately represented by society and the media, and younger Australians will think twice before drawing conclusions about a person’s capabilities based simply on age.

Apia’s spokesperson and iconic broadcaster Glenn Ridge said, “I’ve found that over 50s continually endeavour to reinvent themselves and adapt to changing times and situations. Staying vibrant, relevant and open to new experiences is something that’s important at any age, not just as the years add up.” 

Why not watch the video of Apia’s social experiment?

Opinion: stand up and fight stereotypes

For those who know where to look for it, older age stereotypes are easy to spot. In the media and in advertising we are shown older people who are unable to use their smartphones, who forget where they put the car keys and who suffer with chronic pain – as if these complaints are confined only to those in this age demographic.

In recent years we’ve seen a large shift in focus towards fairer representation of society’s key marginalised or oppressed groups, including women, homosexual couples – and older Australians.

When we consider that these groups are all seeking the same thing – equal rights and fair treatment – then we can take strength from knowing that we are all in this together. Individuals in these groups don’t want to be cast in the dark anymore and when they are supported by organisations , such as Apia, that stand up for and with them, change happens.

By exposing age prejudice through this social experiment, Apia is playing a significant part in helping individuals recognise the unfair perceptions they may hold.

What can the rest of us do to eradicate ageism? We can challenge the stereotypical remarks of others, begin conversations about the very real capabilities of older people and point to the many remarkable people in your life, who just happen to be over 50.

Why not read our article on fighting age discrimination?

Have you faced age discrimination in your daily life? Do you feel that those over 50 are inaccurately represented by and in the media? What specific changes would you like to see in how over 50s are treated?

Written by ameliath