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Age Discrimination: Too Young at 20, Too Old at mid-40s


Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination, Ferda Ataman, denounced age discrimination against women. She stresses that this issue is detrimental to both women and the economy.

Ataman emphasised that women bear the burden of age discrimination in the labour market regardless of age. In their twenties, women are frequently viewed as incapable of handling responsibility or as risky hires due to potential future childbirth. The picture does not change much for women in their thirties; discrimination can impact mothers who perhaps also work part-time. Women face a no-win situation, as those in their 40s are then deemed too old and either overlooked for promotion or labelled as difficult when voicing their demands, according to Ataman.

The online magazine “Palaix F*luxx” presented twelve women aged 47 to 64 from different industries to promote a new, positive understanding of age in society with the campaign “Ohne mich würdet ihr alt aussehen” (You’d look old without me). Founder Silke Burmester highlighted that the campaign stemmed from the issue of women in their mid-40s becoming invisible in the labour market, attested by hundreds of discrimination cases in the previous years. Despite the urgent need to address German labour shortages in specific fields, many older women find themselves shut out of the job market. Burmester emphasizes the importance of the economy recognizing and accommodating older women, ensuring they can contribute effectively alongside younger generations for optimal performance.

Smart Against Ageism (SAA) is working towards an inclusive society and is developing an educational programme against ageism. The focus is on tackling stereotypes about people based on their age.