When Experience is a Liability

By Matt Perry

When the New York Times sought a powerful voice to illuminate the dark scourge of ageism in America, they asked Ashton Applewhite, author of March’s This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, who was profiled earlier this year by the California Health Report.

In her recent piece for the Times, Applewhite eviscerates an ageism trend so common that two-thirds of older job seekers have experienced it: “A dumb and destructive obsession with youth so extreme that experience has become a liability,” she writes.

She includes several exasperating anecdotes, like the former Apple software genius who after retiring in his mid-50’s couldn’t get a job at an Apple store Genius Bar, and the science educator with over 40 years of experience who couldn’t get work: “It’s really a blow, since I still feel like a vital human being,” she says.

Applewhite further decries the spill-down effects of ageism on younger generations. She reveals that engineers in Silicon Valley are getting hair implants and Botox injections before job interviews to make themselves younger and, well, more vital.

Ageism has become so prevalent that even comedian and social critic Bill Maher has called it the last remaining acceptable prejudice.

So, it should be no surprise that older adults are turning to late-life entrepreneurship in record numbers.

Finally, there may be something deeply ironic in the fact that Applewhite, at 64, feels blessed to work for an organization that embraces workers of all ages: The American Museum of Natural History.











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