The New Career Game

Written by Vera Struck

“Irrelevant and too smart” he said. “And what’s with all that sustainability stuff?”

“To be honest, at her age, plastic surgery and hair color could take off 15 years. She has no wrinkles, a good figure and frankly, great energy, but I don’t see the rest of the C-suite taking direction from anyone over 45, much less a woman,” she retorted.

“Too bad, she’d be great at turning around the company,” he sighed, “and I bet we could get her cheap,” his face turning red as I rounded the corner from the corporate bathroom.

“Ms. Struck, I thought you had gone,” he quipped, recovering quickly with, “Mr. Nelson, you’re next.”

My burst of uncontrollable laughter seized the reception area full of hopeful applicants like the entrance of a member from a leper colony. They weren’t sure if I was going to infect them with some terminal dis-ease and, like many of the currently un- or under-employed, they denied the entire incident as part of their perceptive reality.

As I was exiting the reception area, scenes from “Up in the Air” and “Inside Job”, came rushing into my brain. After reading Nickel and Dimed, Scratch Beginnings, You Want Fries With That? and a host of books about the recession, implicit ageism and unconscious gender bias, the only emotion I could muster beyond shock was disgust. As I entered the car, tears were soon to follow.

Yes, disgusted. I’ve worked hard all my life. I’ve been a good citizen, always giving 20% of my income to worthy causes, providing pro-bono services to countless environmental and arts non-profits. Helping animals, children, abused women and cancer survivors whenever and wherever I can. Raised millions for breast cancer research and survivor services.

So why me, why now?

I had just turned 60 and realized regardless of my energy, my tech skills on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, the ability to run circles around my colleagues, I was now considered “irrelevant, too mature, too over qualified, too expensive, a health insurance risk, too smart,” and recently you could add, ”invisible” to the terms describing this over-educated, executive woman of a certain age.

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