Ageism amongst Higher Education Professional Staff: Understanding Attitudinal and Professional Consequences

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Colleges and universities benefit from a diverse community composed of faculty and staff who serve to enrich the lives of students. Diversity exists among professional staff just as it does among student populations. Where there is diversity, there may also be discrimination, and older adults may face more burdens as they continue their educations than younger adults (Simi & Matusitz, 2016). This study explores the issue of age discrimination amongst professional staff who have served colleges and universities. Emphasis is equally placed on extracting the experiences of perceived ageism from participants who are both younger and older adults in the industry. These experiences are examined to understand how perceived ageism in the workplace has impacted the individuals on a personal level. Additionally, this research considers the impact that ageism has on individuals and their loyalty to their institutions, which subsequently may impact the operation and culture of the institution. Results from the research study (N = 4) paint a picture of perceived ageism happening in very different ways amongst the participants. These experiences range from relatively subtle comments made by coworkers, including faculty and staff in some instances, to what seems to be the outright denial of an employment opportunity based on their age. These experiences have altered their identities, and the range of ageist experiences is similar to those that have been examined in other research (Shih, Young, & Butcher, 2013). Furthermore, it is likely that the experiences perceived as ageist intersect with other forms of discrimination (Granslee & Sayer, 2006). Ultimately, participants reported holding the higher purpose of serving their students and community that may combat turnover due to ageist incidents, but the experiences raise questions about institutional cultures at a time when the generations may be at odds with one another.

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  • 11/16/2023
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