Investigating Age Discrimination in Today's Society

Investigating Age Discrimination in Today's Society

This essay is investigating age discrimination in todays society. It will focus on the key theories of the issues raised regarding age discrimination in the media eye towards women in Britain today.. Key issues at stake?

To begin, age discrimination is defined as the lack of respect for older people in this society. It has come to mean that one age group is more relevant or important over another which leads to some people treating others differently. Age discrimination occurs throughout society and in many different forms of environments, for example, in television, advertising, movies, retail stores, hospitals and everyday jobs. When an older person behaves in certain way their behaviour is sometimes described in an ageist manner, however if a younger person behaves in the same way their behaviour is not always commented on. An example of this is if an older person cannot remember the name of someone or the name of a particular place then people sometimes regard them as being senile or generally put it down to their age, however the same scenario involving a younger person is viewed in an entirely different way, it is remarked on as jokingly having a forgetful memory. Another example of this is if an older person disagrees with someone or something and chooses to complain about it they can be regarded as being cranky or difficult, yet should a younger person act in the same way then they are just said to be critical of issues. Health issues are also sometimes wrongly used in ageism. When an older person struggles to hear things they can be dismissed as "getting old," when possibly the person just has a general problem with their hearing.

Today, television presenters are being dropped from their shows left right and centre because of their age and appearing to be too old. It has been recognized that choosing younger presenters is required to appeal to such audiences on television. The television show Countryfile which airs on the BBC was one of the programmes to face this drastic decision in the media eye. “Miriam O’Reilly was one of four female presenters, all in their 40s or 50s, who were dropped from the 23-year-old show.” (

Miriam O’Reilly acted upon this drastic case of age discrimination and took it to court for further investigation. Miriam O’Reilly talked about her feelings of the age discrimination allegations by saying: “My reaction was that I was sacked because of my age. My ability to do my job on Countryfile had never been questioned. I didn’t think it was fair to lose it for something I had no control over – getting older. Deciding to take action though was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. I took this action because I want to continue my career as a journalist and presenter - I don’t want to be defined as a ‘poster girl’ for discrimination.” (Too Old For TV? 2011)

“Accusations of ageism have previously been levelled at the BBC over the departure of other high-profile presenters including Arlene Phillips, who was dropped as a judge on BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing but returned as a panellist on a new BBC1 talent show format.” (

On the television documentary Too Old For TV? Miriam O’Reilly interviews Les Denis about the issues raised about age discrimination. Les Denis comments: “I'm a TV presenter who had a game show, now it is run by a much younger man. There was a gap in between. I wasn't ousted in any way but I do feel that presenting is very much becoming a younger man’s game and so I've moved shifted into the world of acting where you can be an actor of any age really."

An exclusive poll was given to the public outside of the TV industry where 2,897 adults in February 2011 were asked about their attitudes to older presenters on TV. The public were asked: “whether or not they wanted to see a greater number of older presenters on television than there is at present, 45% said yes, 28% said no. Whether the media is youth obsessed, 60% said yes, 27% said no. Lastly, if the media is ageist, 58% said yes, 26% said no.” As we get older it has been proved that our motivation, skill and interest do not disappear with age. In the workplace some employers seem to think that older workers are against change or are slow to learn new skills and in some cases are not comfortable with new technologies which surround them.
This is very unfair. Everyone regardless of their age should be given the opportunity to progress and integrate within their working environment. An example of the advantages that older people have is that not only do they have a wealth of knowledge but they also have a vast amount of experience. These two assets are often overlooked or disregarded by some employers.

To conclude this essay, age is just a number. People both young and old could be valued for their skills and knowledge.


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