Nowadays, people don’t just automatically retire at age 65. Instead, they keep working well into their golden years. But if you’re a woman over 60 who’s looking for a job, a new study shows your employment search could be quite challenging.

“Robust” age discrimination exists when it comes to older women who are seeking jobs, reports the National Bureau of Economic Research.

According to, the recent study, conducted by three economists, submitted more than 40,000 mock applications for jobs in 12 cities. The jobs were advertised online in four categories: office administration, retail sales, security guard, and janitor.

The mock applicants fell into three age groups: younger (29-31), middle-aged (49-51), and older (64-66). All the resumes in the “older” category included people with more than five years of work experience.

The study revealed:

  • Female applicants in their mid-60s who applied for low-skill jobs were less likely to be called back for interviews than men of the same age.
  • Employers were less likely to interview older applicants in three categories: office administration, retail sales, and security guard.
  • In all four categories, call-back rates were about 35 percent lower for older workers than younger workers.
  • Discrimination against job applicants closer to the retirement age (64-66) was more prevalent than for middle-aged workers (49-51).
  • Evidence of discrimination against older women was especially prevalent in retail sales jobs. While younger applicants were more likely to be contacted for interviews in the sales arena, the gap was twice as large among women older than 60 than for men over 60.
  • For administrative jobs (receptionist to office manager), older women were less likely to be called for interviews.

The research further showed that bias exists against men age 60 or older for certain occupations. However, the discrimination against older men was less than the researchers’ anticipated, based on prior studies.

The economist who conducted the study suggest that age discrimination laws do less to protect older women who may be targets of both age and sex discrimination. Also, prior research has demonstrated that physical appearance matters more for women, and that age “detracts more from physical appearance for women than for men.”

The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are knowledgeable in all aspects of discrimination laws. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against based on your age, please contact us to learn how we can help.

Tad T. Roumayah

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Tad T. Roumayah

Tad Roumayah focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, representing employees who have encountered discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower protection claims, wage and hour violations and other employment issues and disputes.