Maureen Dowd says women are getting unhappier as they age. Do you agree?

This weekend, Maureen Dowd wrote a New York Times column called "Blue is the New Black," in which she interpreted some recent studies to assert that women in America are getting less happy as they age.

What does Dowd think causes this gender-imbalance? Women have too many choices; it is harder to find satisfaction in more complicated lives; they are less attractive than men as they age; and it is harder for them to find mates.

It is hard not to believe that Dowd's column says more about herself than women in general; maybe that is the point.

What is more confusing is the column that Dowd cites, a column written on the Huffington Post by...a man, motivational speaker Marcus Buckingham.

In Buckingham's post, "What's Happening to Women's Happiness?" he refers to the same studies, which show a gradual decline in female happiness over the last 35 years. Buckingham also cites the same studies for the proposition that women's happiness decreases as they age; he says that women get unhappier than men around the age 47.

I beg to differ, for a couple of reasons. First of all, at, we see women face challenges as they age with an attitude that seems full of confidence and balance; they also gain strength from the support of other women. They seem wise from experience, but not unhappy.

Second, the studies Dowd and Buckingham cite show such a small decline in "happiness" over the years to be statistically dubious. A 10% decline in self-defined happiness over 35 years may say more about what happiness means than about how much women experience it.

And even if these studies are true, what would it mean for companies who seek to do business with the desirable Boomer woman consumer?

Nothing, as far as this man can tell. While marketers frequently use fear and doubt to motivate consumer behavior, we know that Vibrant Women want more than fear and doubt; they want marketers to confirm that they can overcome their challenges. They want marketers to recognize their ability to find happiness in life wherever it may lie.

And, finally, if these women are feeling unhappy, it may be because marketers consistently tell them that they must regret the losses caused by aging. Maybe delivering a message that women over 50 deserve to be happy for all they can still accomplish in life will not just be good for business; maybe it will actually make them happier, too.


Sign up for the Vibrant Nation
newsletter and stay connected!