Friday, 14 January 2011

Is prejudice in the workplace on the rise?
Or doth we protest too much?

This week, #MiriamO ’Reilly, one of the first ever people to take the #BBC to an employment tribunal on allegations of age discrimination, won her case. Miriam, aged 53, was axed from the television show Countryfile after it moved from a Sunday morning show to a prime time Sunday evening slot. In the same week, it was announced that the government plans to save £12 billion by raising the state pension age. The retirement age for women was due to rise from 60 to 65 over the next 10 years, to bring it in line with men, but that increase will now come into force by 2018 – and will go up to 66 years of age for both sexes by 2020.

Miriam winning her case was a great victory for women, but will it change perceptions and views of working women of a certain age? Or are the cases of age discrimination set to rise? With women having to work up to the age of 66, it’s possible that we may see an influx of stories similar to that of Miriam’s.

It seems Miriam’s isn’t the only famous face in the media spotlight who has felt some sort of age discrimination – Moira Stuart was ‘deeply hurt’ when she lost her television role (she now presents the news on the Chris Evans breakfast show on Radio 2), Arlene Phillips was famously axed from #strictlycomedancing, only to be replaced by the younger Alesha Dixon and Anna Ford reportedly feared being sidelined in her 60s.

Do you think men face the same discrimination as women? Take Strictly for example – Arlene was replaced by Alesha but we still see Bruce Forsyth and Len Goodman gracing our screens. I certainly feel there are more ‘older’ men on our screens than women. In fact, industry body Skillset found that only one in 10 women working in television is over 50 – half are under 35 and men outnumber women by almost two to one on TV.

What do you think to the raise in state pension age? Do you think it’s a good idea? I think it’s great that women are able to keep working if they want to, and now also won’t be forced to retire. But for those who were hoping for their retirement soon, they could have a while longer to wait…..

Working in an office full of women (and a couple of men!), I can thankfully say that I’ve never had to experience these issues and, with any luck, I'll never have to!

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