San Francisco — As Gen Z enters the workforce they are faced with the threat of ageism — discrimination, often in the workplace, against individuals or groups because of their age. The World Health Organization said that ageist attitudes toward younger people are common, with perhaps one out of two people holding moderately or highly ageist beliefs based on generational differences.
The roots of ageism towards younger generations often stem from different life experiences between age groups leading to a disconnect. Examples of ageism are being belittled, ignored, passed over for jobs and even be paid lower wages. Some people have even given Ageism specifically toward Young Adults a new name: Youngism.
Expert Luaren Riklen said that “Older people may have succeeded by traditional measures of success: long hours, missing family events and constantly being in the workplace. When they see younger persons’ behaviors that aren’t similar – such as leaving work to go work out or taking health and wellness measures — the result can be a stereotype.”
Eighteen-year-old activist Sarah Goody said that she has struggled with trying to get people to listen to her.
”It can be really difficult to build that sense of credibility that gets people to listen to you. When you are constantly interacting with people who are 30, 40 and 50 years older than you there is a disconnect at times, and also because you are talking to people who sometimes don’t think you should be there,” Goody said. “As a young person, someone who can’t vote, hasn’t graduated from high school and hasn’t gotten a degree in something like environmental science, it can be very hard to be taken seriously. And it can be very detrimental to young people trying to get involved in this work.”
Washington University said that biases against young adults could lead to economic loss for this generation and for the ones to come. A study done by the AARP estimated that by 2050, losses due to age discrimination could climb to $3.9 trillion. Ageism also takes a toll mentally. Being profiled in any way including by your age has been known to heighten stress levels leading to anxiety and other mental health issues.
A study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics said those who faced discrimination of any kind were around 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder.
But, there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Young adults are digital native in an era when such ability is at a premium. This helps young people build careers; particularly in tech and business.
The study by the communications regulator Ofcom found that people in their teens and 20s have the best understanding of technology. Because younger generations are growing up with technology they are more likely to be hired for positions relating to technology.
Studies have also shown that children as young as nine are already thinking about a career in technology, 49% saying that they are actively seeking a career in developing future tech. It seems as though technology could be the way out of Youngism.