What are the three types of ageism?
1. Individual ageism
Dr. Robert Butler’s “Ageism in America” report lists this as one of the categories of ageism. Individual ageism, or “personal ageism,” is characterized by individuals’ thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that are biassed against other persons or groups of people based on their older age, according to Butler, who created the term in the late 1960s.
This type of ageism is more challenging to detect than others because it is peculiar to individuals’ internal attitudes and beliefs. However, it is a fantastic spot to begin evaluating our attitudes toward ageism. For example, would you question why one of your older coworkers was assigned to a project that required advanced tech? What makes you doubt it? It’s also crucial to remember that ageism may affect people of any age. Let’s imagine you’re at a huge meeting and a new colleague in their early twenties enters to give a presentation. Would you be inclined to doubt the validity of this person’s claims based on the idea that they are inexperienced?
2. Interpersonal ageism
This type of ageism occurs between people. An individual’s ageism may lead to interpersonal ageism. Let’s imagine you overhear a coworker making a joke about “OK, boomer.” Or your younger employer expresses amazement that you have such a strong social media presence.
Here are some more examples:
• In an interview, they may ask you why “someone with this much experience” wants this role, or you might be called “overqualified.”
• A question concerning today’s pop music is asked in a game of company-wide virtual trivia, and your Gen Z colleague is instantly deferred to because it’s expected you won’t know the correct answer.
• For a workplace event, a speaker is needed. The role is given to a much younger colleague, who is complimented for their “new and energetic viewpoints.”
• At work, things are starting to get crazy. Since “others have small children at home and you don’t,” your manager asks if you can take up a coworker’s load and work overtime.
• Your employer introduces a new program for “digital upskilling.” You add those training and seminars to your schedule, but you don’t see the younger members of your staff participating.
3. Institutional ageism
Institutional ageism refers to the policies and ideologies that discriminate against older people. Ageism is legitimized and considered to be a part of the built-in structure of the company, most commonly through official regulations, with or without individuals having a say.
One example of this is compulsory retirement. Although it is marketed as something purely for the worker’s benefit, with the thought that we all want to leave the job one day, in truth, it is a way to ensure that older workers aren’t “taking over” responsibilities that young people do could fill (because younger workers will be paid less than older workers.)
Another example of institutional ageism, this time experienced by more youthful folks, would be if, at age 24, you were told you’re ineligible for a promotion because only those with postgraduate degrees hold that level of role at the company. Although age isn’t a requirement here, it means younger people are less likely to get promoted because they haven’t finished the necessary coursework.