There’s something haywire about how women are expected to crunch our most celebrated achievements into a timetable that frequently lasts fewer than 20 years. Find a partner. Raise some chicks. Zoom to the top of your field. Check each box by 50.
We may mistake this Acela for our life until it whooshes past, stranding us with other gut-kicked women whose jobs have ended for reasons H.R. never admits are age-related. Going forward, many employers ignore this mature work force, most likely because they don’t want to pay the salaries experience deserves, despite the fact that women earn, on average, 80 percent of men’s wages.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of long-term unemployed people in the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket are women.
Hey, I’ve been there. I loved going to an office, where satisfaction was wrapped in camaraderie garnished by a salary, health care, paid vacation and sick days I never used. In my mid-50s I was shown the door. Opportunities came along, far from my home. I held out for a situation that did not involve relocation while I watched my industry — magazine publishing — start to disappear as if it were written in vanishing ink. Remaining jobs went to editors with three years of experience, not 33.
Which is why I joined the gig economy. For the past decade I’ve worked hard, hoping to write books as long as editors and readers will buy them. My second act has gone well, perhaps because I report to a taskmaster: me. I’ve also been lucky, and for that I’m grateful, but self-employment is hardly an option for everyone, nor does it offer any benefits beyond the chance to work in dollar-store leggings while Facebook “likes” replace human contact.