Episode 146: Ageism, or Prejudice Against Our Future Selves

In the beginning we may have discriminated against women because of their potential to be mothers...[later] we’re discriminating against them because they’re perceived as not as qualified or less likely to be flexible.
— Terri Boyer
Photo by PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images

Most of it is in our head, because ageism starts between our ears. We can re-frame our own narrative about aging.
— Rachel Lankester

This is the second of two shows on what happens as women in the workforce get older. And a lot of it isn't good. Women can experience a double whammy of prejudice that men don't, and it's affecting our bank accounts apart from anything else.

Kate Wiseman and her dog jack

Kate Wiseman and her dog jack

In this episode we meet Villanova University women's leadership professor Terri Boyer, and founder of Magnificent Midlife Rachel Lankester. Each discusses age discrimination (which is perpetrated by both men and women) and suggests ways we can tackle it, beginning with women not buying into the narratives we've been fed over the years. OK, centuries. And we meet late-in-life lawyer Kate Wiseman, who's having a positive experience of being an 'older woman' at the office.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading:

Rachel Lankester started The Mutton Club after going through the menopause earlier than most. She wanted to create the kind of (positive) content she couldn’t find on being a midlife woman.

Older Women are Being Forced Out of the Workforce from the Harvard Business Review.

Why Are So Many Older Australian Women Becoming Homeless? from Pro Bono.

Episode 145: Working through Menopause

Sometimes we hear, ‘the guys don’t understand what’s going on,’ meaning the male line managers. But it’s the female line managers who have just as little information about it too.
— Julie Dennis
Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by seb_ra/iStock / Getty Images

We play at being superhuman all the time. And I think if more of us can have these honest conversations then there’s less chance of us being discriminated against.
— Rebekah Bostan

You're commuting to work and you start overheating; you're suddenly feeling more anxious about everything; you can't sleep properly, and your colleagues and family are driving you nuts.

Julie Dennis

Julie Dennis

Many women in their forties start feeling these signs of peri-menopause. And in the UK, some employers are actually moving to support their female staff as they go through this transition. But menopause still remains largely under-discussed, particularly in the youth-obsessed US (why would you admit you're menopausal when the workplace is already sexist and ageist?) In this show we meet Julie Dennis, a menopause coach, and Rebekah Bostan, an employee of a global company - each is determined to bring more transparency to one of the last workplace taboos.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading: Here’s a blog post Rebekah wrote about peri-menopause in the workplace.

You can learn more about Julie Dennis and her work here and read more about her book, the Hot Flush Freedom Challenge, here.

This piece, Puberty for the Middle-Aged, first got me thinking about peri-menopause.

If you have something to add to the discussion please post a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Episode 144: Class and Career (re-release)

This will sound funny but I feel like I wouldn’t advise it, this path that I was on. You have moments of pleasure you have to enjoy and appreciate, but it’s grueling.
— Denise McKenzie

I first released this episode in October of 2016. In it, three guests speak about the impact your social class can have on your career, and your comfort level in the kind of job your parents never did.

You can read the full set of show notes and link to a transcript here, on the original show’s page.

Episode 143: True Equality: When It's OK to be Mediocre

The idea is to say we’re not perfect, or great - we can be just as bad, evil, hopeless and ridiculous as men, but so what? The point [is] we need the freedom to be just people.
— Pilita Clark
Photo by eggeeggjiew/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by eggeeggjiew/iStock / Getty Images

Pilita clark

Pilita clark

We all need inspiration in the form of successful women. But sometimes the pitches I get about the latest amazing, do-it-all star who's 'killing it' can make me feel tired rather than inspired.

Financial Times columnist Pilita Clark is in the same boat. She argues that true equality means not having to be utterly stellar to receive recognition. In this show we discuss her theory that women should be allowed to be as mediocre as any man, and what it’ll take to get there.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

As I mentioned in the intro, those of you who are managers or about to become one should check out former guest Anne Libby’s On Management newsletter.

Further reading: Here’s the column Pilita wrote that got me reflecting on my own inbox full of superwomen pitches: Women must demand the right to be as useless as men.

During our conversation we discussed the book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

Episode 142: Working Daughters: Your Career + Parent-care

I just remember taking her to one doctor, and one doctor’s appointment took five hours...So how do you do that and still balance your career or progress in your career?
— Maria Toropova
Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

The doctor that day asked me why I worked and didn’t quit to spend more time with my mother. It was a brutal day.
— Liz O'Donnell
I have to believe there was a meaning for my music, for my soul...that me going through that experience was teaching me something about what it means to live.
— Kate Schutt

The issues surrounding work and motherhood are out in the open and being talked about. Less so the issues around working daughters. And a lot of us are turning into working daughters. In the US, the average family caregiver is a middle-aged woman who often has a family of her own and holds down a job. But as this show reveals, it’s not just women in their forties and older who are trying to maintain careers and livelihoods while caring for at least one parent.

Maria Toropova was just 29 when her mother got sick last year, and both their lives changed utterly. Now she’s the sole wage earner and caregiver to her 65-year-old mother. Kate Schutt found her musical career hard to keep up while caring for her mother in the last years of her life. And Liz O’Donnell founded Working Daughter to bring more attention to the work/eldercare clash and provide support to the women doing this work.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading: Here’s Liz O’Donnell’s piece in the Atlantic on working daughters and how invisible the issues can be.

Liz is also the author of the upcoming book, Working Daughter - a Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents While Making a Living.

Kate Schutt made this TED talk last year about how to help your friends and family through a loss.

Episode 141: When I'm 85 - an interview with Madeleine Kunin

It doesn’t end at 80 or 85. As long as you’re still curious, as long as you’re still interested in new things, you can be happy.
— Madeleine Kunin

A few years ago I spoke to former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin for a show called Politics is Power. When I took some of her career advice and wrote it up in a LinkedIn post, it got hundreds of (positive) comments. So when I heard she had a new memoir out about being in her eighties, I couldn't wait to speak to her again.

In this show we discuss what it's like to officially be an old woman, and talk about some of the highs and lows of reaching your eighties. We discuss how Madeleine has changed as a person and go back in time to her childhood, to parts of her career, and to the time she became a single professional woman at 60, after many years as a wife. She found love again at 71.

Being 85, she says, 'is not what I pictured in my mind.' It’s better.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading: You can read more about Madeleine’s marriage to John Hennessey in this New York Times piece.

Here’s an obituary of John from the Burlington Free Press and an appreciation by staff at Dartmouth College, where he spent much of his career.

Madeleine’s previous two books are Pearls, Politics & Power and The New Feminist Agenda.