What do Dolly Parton, Ita Buttrose, and Judy Dench have in common? Apart from their high-profile status, they share another common thread—they are all well over 50, with two of them even surpassing 80 years of age. Despite their seasoned years, they continue to work tirelessly and excel in their respective fields. While they may be prominent figures, there are a substantial number of older women who are making invaluable contributions to society and the economy.

Yet, the question arises: why is it often such a challenge for women over 50 to secure employment? Stereotypes and biases surrounding older women can persist, perpetuating assumptions of decreased adaptability, lesser tech-savviness, and a slower learning curve. Rationally, we understand that such traits are not exclusive to any particular age group; they hinge on the right person finding the right role, sometimes necessitating appropriate training and support.

There is plenty of research which show the immeasurable value of the wisdom and experience that older individuals bring to a workplace. This wealth of expertise and maturity offers a wider perspective, fostering increased creativity and innovation. Moreover, it leads to heightened productivity and a more steadfast commitment, ultimately resulting in lower turnover rates.

For older women, the advantages of maintaining regular employment are substantial. These encompass financial stability, heightened wellbeing, and improved mental health. On a broader scale, this equates to reduced reliance on welfare.

Yet, the Human Rights Commission’s research has confirmed our anecdotal evidence that employers are slow to take on older workers. So, what steps can be taken to address this issue? The media has something to answer for. Programs like ABC’s “Old People’s Home for Teenagers” serve as poignant reminders that, fundamentally, we share more similarities than disparities. We’re all on the same journey aspiring for a sense of belonging, purpose, financial independence, and dignity in our lives.

The Older Women’s Network NSW (OWN NSW) has stood as a steadfast advocate for older women in NSW for over three decades. We staunchly believe in the right of older women to be active contributors to the political, social, and cultural life of the nation. As part of our ongoing mission, we are thrilled to introduce our Pathways to Employment Program for women over 50. This is a free service designed to work one-on-one with older women to facilitate their re-entry into the workforce.

The Pathways to Employment Coordinator, Sharon Stone, will offer support in resume writing, interview coaching, job search strategies, and, most importantly, confidence-building. Although our program is relatively new, we’ve already assisted several women in securing employment. The only prerequisite for entry into the program is that you are over 50 and reside in NSW with a desire to rejoin the workforce. Sharon is available at pathways@ownnsw.org.au or call (02) 9519 8044 to learn more.

If you’re an employer seeking to enhance your diversity and inclusion strategy, Sharon would be delighted to hear from you. Embrace the wealth of experience and wisdom that older women bring to the workforce—the benefits are boundless for all!

Sharon Stone
Coordinator Pathways to Employment

Mobile 0414 824 444

Email: pathways@ownnsw.org.au