Why women feel less relevant in the corporate world when they enter mid-life

work in office discussing some paperwork, menopause in the workplace

If you’re over the age of 45, have you begun to feel less relevant in your job or what you do?

Business Mentor Yvonne Bridges is on a mission for mid-life women to step into their own power and live the life they deserve with the release of her first book YOU Are Relevant. After years of working at executive level as a global corporate consultant, Yvonne has seen numerous instances of women over the age of 45, feeling sidelined or held back.

Here is why she believes women feel less relevant in the corporate world when they enter mid-life:

Here are the common three laments I hear from mid-life women in corporate roles:

  • I’m no longer put forward for any development opportunities
  • I am rarely invited to important meetings about critical issues
  • I apply for roles that I’m exceptionally well qualified for, and my results indicate I’m a great fit, and a young male, in his early to mid-30s is chosen instead

Each of these statements, and more, contribute to feeling less relevant than when these same women entered their profession.

Before we look at how to overcome these challenges, let’s look at how mid-life women describe relevance.  Here are some of their comments of what being relevant means to them:

  • You believe in yourself
  • You are willing to stand for what is good for you
  • You know who you are
  • You speak with wisdom
  • You speak your truth – thoughtfully
  • You have tenacity and grit
  • You see new opportunities as an opportunity for personal growth
  • You are willing to take risks
  • You learn from your mistakes and accept the invitation they present to take a new direction
  • You share your wisdom generously

Consider these elements of relevance – self-belief, wisdom, tenacity, grit, risks, opportunity. They are important for all women and need to rise in priority for mid-life women. Prior to mid-life, women continue to juggle having children, bringing up a family, running a household, looking after elderly parents, being a partner, and a career. Women experience ageism differently than men. 

Let’s add a couple of statistics on top of this. Women are more likely than men to encounter ageist attitudes – they dye their hair 80 per cent more often than men. Poverty rates amongst women over 65, and even more so after 75, are staggeringly higher than men. In 2018 in Europe, women were 40 per cent more likely to live in poverty than men because of the gender gap in pensions. Women outlive men.

It’s not a surprise then, that some women begin to question their own relevance when they arrive at mid-life. There is a systemic challenge women face in the workplace which begins with their first opportunities for promotion. According to McKinsey’s Women In The Workplace – 2021 report, “there is still a ‘broken rung’ at the first step up to manager … women are promoted to manager at far lower rates than men, and this makes it nearly impossible for companies to lay a foundation for sustained progress at more senior levels.”

This is important because often we seek external validation for our relevance, both professionally and personally. Relevance is internal validation and internal work. It begins by excavating times when you felt relevant in the past and identifying the key features of that relevance. Then, building and owning your relevance continues with clarity around who you want to become in mid-life and beyond, what you need to do to create that shift, and what you will have as an outcome.

Defining and building your relevance is like taking a roadmap and ensuring each stop along the journey fulfills you and moves you forward. When you know this, believe this, and begin to live this, you create two important outcomes:

  1. You step into your power – professionally and personally
  2. You are clear about your future runway

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs in corporations are beginning to acknowledge the work required around ageism and micro-aggressions faced by mid-life women (comments such as … ‘you’ve heard it all before. You really don’t need to come to the meeting.’; or, ‘you should show your arms more. They’re so toned.’; or ‘men don’t need to dye their hair because as they embrace their grey hair, they’re more distinguished. Grey hair for women on television just doesn’t look as good.’ …). Mid-life women who know their own relevance and step into their power, lift themselves and other women too.

ALL mid-life women are relevant. The process to land there is simple; it is not always easy. Like many things women do throughout their lives, finding their relevance contributes to and enables women to confidently step into their personal and professional power. We ALL have runway left in our lives. Believe it. Know it. Live it.

Yvonne Bridges can be found at: www.yvonne-bridges.com and her book – YOU Are Relevant: A Guide For Mid-Life Women To Step Into Their Power is out now on Amazon

YOU Are Relevant: A Guide for Mid-Life Women to Step Into Their Power | Yvonne Bridges

Facing mid-life can be daunting for anyone – especially so for women. Knowing, in the core of your being; YOU Are Relevant; enables you to step into your power. When you decide who you want to be, take aligned action with who want to become, you will have, own and live in your personal power.

After choosing relevance for herself, and working with hundreds of women throughout the world, Yvonne created a Roadmap2Relevance. It’s all right here in this book.

After reading this book you can create your own roadmap, use it over and over again, and expand it for the remaining runway in your life.

You Are Relevant - Yvonne Bridges
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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