Apparently, recent research shows that fifty-something women have landed the most jobs since the start of the recession. Women aged between 50 and 64 have fared better than men and any other age group during the crisis and are the ones getting most of the available jobs. This demographic has also been dubbed the “Madonna generation”, as they are more likely to view Madonna than Grandma Grey as a role model.
Love her or hate her, the original Material Girl is not too bad a role model to have when one is staring at the inexorable descent into menopause and middle-age. Would that I be as slim, fit, and half as wealthy as her! (Yes, I know, a few of her thousands to spend on some nips and tucks might help, but still.) I have to admit, I do know a lot of Madonna women amongst my friends. They’re attractive, active, successful ladies who are a far cry from the stereotypical grey-haired “wifey”. Several of us still indulge in crazy downhill skiing and mountain biking. One has taken up rock-climbing in a serious way, and is out conquering peaks every weekend. When another turned 60 a few years ago, her birthday bash photos show a group of forty-somethings amongst whom it is impossible to spot the 60-year-old. All of us have disposable income that we like to spend on travelling, entertainment, or nice cars… at least the little bit of disposable that’s left after our kids have had a good go at it.
As for the employment situation, presumably there are several factors there. More middle-aged women are in the workplace than ever before, some through necessity and some through choice. Besides having to pay the bills, a lot of us prefer to have our own, independent source of income. It’s hard to raise a family on a single income these days, so off to work we have gone in droves, even when we still have little kids at home. Maybe women are more flexible in their career choices; willing to consider part-time work or self-employment as valid options. Perhaps many in the 50-64 age-group are returning to the workplace now that their kids are grown, and therefore there are statistically more of them picking up the available jobs.
What is somewhat surprising, though, is that this same report shows that more men are taking on administrative or secretarial type jobs while women are ditching these traditionally feminized roles for managerial and technical jobs. What’s up with that? I get the last part of it, but the first part? Men as secretaries? Is it because men are super-smart and have realized that along with managerial jobs goes a whole lot of stress? Or is it that they have wives who are out there saving the corporate world and so they don’t need to be? Hmmm. Not sure I’m so keen on that trend. Unless men can start to have the babies, we don’t want the pendulum to swing too far over!
Anyway, whatever the reasons for this plethora of middle-aged women in the workplace, I’m going to hold onto the ‘Madonna women’ thought. Maybe middle-age isn’t quite so scary if we can do it her way.