Today’s Featured Comment
This summer I have explored what it means to be an older woman in education. I’ve questioned a number of things in part because of the lack of respect that I think I’m getting.
I have to be honest and confess that I was expecting respect just because of longevity. I do my job and I do it well but I am not owed anything because of my age. I know more and do many things easier and better than my younger colleagues. When they want help, I help – otherwise I don’t bother.
I really had to ask myself why I wanted recognition in the work place and I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter to me very much anymore. I wanted it because I thought I was entitled to it. (To be brutally honest.)
When I shared some of these observations with some younger teachers, they didn’t consider me older. They did consider several other teachers who are younger than me older. Some of that is because of my attitude. The ‘older teachers’ are considered old because of how they dress, how they talk, and they don’t keep up with trends, the profession and technology.
I work for a younger man and work with younger teachers. They consider me young because I’m enthusiastic, dress nicely, am interested and engaged in life and my profession. It’s an attitude. That’s their observation. I’ve gotten a lot of recognition in my career but that is honestly not my focus right now. However, if I wanted it I would do some things differently than I am now. I would publish, be more active in my professional organization, conduct staff development. I would sell myself differently.
There is a bias against older women for sure but some of that we bring on ourselves. Then we complain about it and act like victims. I’ve seen that too often.
And for the record, older men are experiencing the same thing. If our culture values youth, and I believe it does, we might ask ourselves what is it about youth that is valued. I don’t think it’s just looks. I thinks it’s passion, energy, commitment, being engaged with life and interested in the world.
Here’s one more thing, you get what you give so give what you want. That means giving younger people as much respect as you think you should have. I know that I’ve been guilty of not doing that.
[This comment was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]