Age Stereotypes in the Health Sector
While some people embrace the idea of gaining wisdom as they age, others fear that their youth may put them at a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining employment within their chosen career in the health care field. Unfortunately, their fears are well grounded in reality because older people face widespread discrimination both during the job hunt and in the stability and advancement aspects of their career. It isn't to say that youth doesn't bring challenges and discrimination as well but it means that in Britain, most discrimination is aimed at older working adults.
Investigating Age Stereotypes
Stereotypes are generally described as preconceived notions about a person or a group of people. Stereotypes can be loosely based in reality or may be firmly rooted in ignorance. Either way, the key problem with stereotypes is that they prevent a person from being fairly judged by their own merits and skills. While most health care careers place a greater emphasis on youth, which is associated with strength and vitality, others focus on older applicants because they are deemed more mature and academically oriented.
Regulations on Age Discrimination
While you may already be familiar with regulations for equality in the areas of race and gender, age is a commonly ignored stereotype. Today, age concern has become an important issue in the health care workplace, which can impact a person's employment in a health career. Age discrimination can present in less obvious, subtle ways and it is more likely that a workplace will not have specific regulations and protocol to deal with age-related discrimination in a health care career. With the ageing population, however, the entire workplace is becoming older. With our improving health standards and level of patient care in Britain, people are living longer and healthier lives, which means that the retirement age has been shifting upwards as older adults continue to work rather than retire.
In response, newer laws have been introduced in relating to age concern in the workplace. These laws help to ensure that older adults are not kept from accessing and advancing in health care careers. In addition, redundancy regulations may not discriminate against older individuals. Even with these laws, employers can still attempt to discriminate against older people. For instance, older workers tend to work part-time rather than retiring. In this way, an employer could make part-time workers redundant, knowing full well that they are removing older workers from the health care workplace. Not only that, but during the hiring process, an employer or recruiter is not allowed to impose an age minimum except in rare circumstances where such an age minimum is legally justified.
Age Discrimination Against Younger Workers
In some health care careers, age is associated with wisdom and experience. In this way, a younger health care worker may be discriminated against due to their youth. For example, scientists are generally stereotyped as older, grey-haired men who are academically oriented. Youth can be seen as a sign of inexperience, lack of knowledge and even a lack of intelligence.
Dealing with Age Discrimination
If you feel you are the victim of age discrimination in the workplace, the first point of contact should probably be your employer. Some instances of discrimination could be related to poor communication and weak workplace standards, which can sometimes be improved with better dialogue on all sides. You can also file a legal claim regarding the age discrimination and in some cases such as during the hiring process prior to employment, this may be the preferred method.
Age is important in the sense that as you become older, you do have more years in which to gain valuable health care experience. At the same time, people of all ages are still capable of meeting the requirements for many jobs. When an employer discriminates against an otherwise qualified applicant simply due to their youth or older age, they should be held responsible and accountable for their actions, which are illegal in Britain. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, the best thing you can do is to speak out and help to draw attention to the illegal practice of age discrimination. Your choice to speak out will not only improve working standards for you, but it can improve working standards for everyone.