Saturday, May 14, 2011


I don't know whether you've noticed, but women of a certain age are invisible.

I am one of those women and I am increasingly aware of it. I have what I think is an interesting job with lots of interaction with intelligent people. But outside the sphere of my work life, I often feel invisible.

For example, at a recent family-centric event, I found myself seated with a newly-acquainted woman and a male family friend who happens to be gay. As the conversation went, I might as well have not been there. I asked the woman questions. She turned to the man. This was obviously not about a physical attraction. I concluded that my hair color sends a signal that I have nothing of interest to talk about with someone half or a third my age. And I am reminded that our culture belongs to the young.

It happens other places, too. One place is on airplanes. I do quite a lot of business travel and sometimes get upgraded to first class. It's a bonus, especially on long haul flights, but the treatment by female flight attendants has been consistently, noticeably, and repeatedly  different.

In one case, the smiling attendant kindly delivered their suit jackets, which had been hung, to the two men on the flight just prior to landing. My raincoat was hanging beside theirs, but it was up to me to find it! Perhaps my hopes for better service had been set too high as the flight attendant had taken it and hung it for me on takeoff.

I'm not sure this is totally an age issue. It may simply be female discrimination.