“Rejected.” The human cost of ageism in the workplace

On Saturday I received this note via LinkedIn from a woman named Amy Claire Massingale. Massingale has a background in business development and marketing, and is also a published poet. She had applied for a position as a business development director for a medical manufacturing company. Her story bears eloquent, maddening testimony to the job discrimination that older people, and women of all ages, continue to confront.

“I was rejected yesterday. After an interview with the decision-maker and then a second interview with his younger male counterpart, I was told that they were looking for someone with “less experience.” A candidate better aligned with their salary range. He wished me all the best in my search.

“I beat myself up for a little while after reading the email. I found myself wishing I had dumbed down the interview so I that I could have made it to the next round. And then crying because that thought had actually crossed my mind. I also feel like crying every time I revise my CV or my LinkedIn profile. Every time I list jobs only within the past decade, like the woman at the unemployment office told me to do. Or when I delete the word “Caregiver” from my bio and type in “Tech” instead.

“We had not actually discussed the salary but the truth is, I would have made it work somehow, because I have a 17-year old daughter at home and I want her to go to college if she chooses to go. She won’t see this, so she won’t know that the real reason I want her to attend college is not necessarily for the job it might land her. Because that could or could not happen and it may or may not make her happy. Who knows what to expect in the gig economy and beyond.

“It is because I want her to see that the world is bigger than the high school “friends” that bullied her and the system that tried, but failed, to accommodate her learning challenges. That it is both more tender and terrible than her toxic social media will ever reveal. That it is more courageous than the men who walked out when teenage feelings and behavior got too big and scary. And that it is more hopeful than the year of childhood the pandemic stole from her. What I want her to see is the resiliency of women. Of any woman, who cares for, and then buries, her family with her dreams. Working full time and writing poetry at night. And then is told that she looks too tired. Or too this, or too that.

“I want her to understand that though many people in life may try to dim her light, or silence her, or make her feel not good enough, inside her is a voice that is her very own unique and beautiful truth. Her job – my job – and the only job that really matters for any of us – is to listen to that voice and tell its story…its “experience” if you will. It’s the only way we’re going to find any meaning in this mayhem, the only way we’re going to find our way back to each other, and the only way this very sick and precious planet is ever going to heal.”

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