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Invisibility in later life

A survey by Gransnet reveals the extent to which women feel overlooked and patronised as they get older - seven out of 10 believe women become 'invisible'.


woman sitting alone


The survey highlighted the discrepancies between how men and women are treated as they age:


  • Seven out of 10 (70%) believe that women become 'invisible' as they get older, but only a third (32%) think the same applies to men.
  • Women start to become 'invisible' at the age of 52, while men avoid this fate for more than a decade longer - the average age highlighted for men was 64.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe that older women tend to be more invisible than men of the same age, putting the phenomenon down to society being obsessed with youth (62%), ageist (54%) and sexist (35%).
  • Nearly two-fifths (37%) said that younger people have patronised them as they have got older. And a quarter (23%) said that if they’re out with a younger person, people tend to talk to the younger person rather than them.


Respondents also identified day-to-day scenarios that contributed to their sense of being overlooked, which included:


  • Being passed over when waiting to be served at a bar or pub (43%).
  • Being barged past in queues or crowded spaces (34%).
  • Being ignored in shops (31%).
  • Being ignored when entering a restaurant, garage or other service business (25%).
  • Being passed over by staff when in a queue in a shop or service business (24%).


More than half (54%) say they receive less random attention from the opposite sex. And nearly a fifth (18%) said that people had let doors slam in their faces.

Yet an upbeat one in six (17%) said that they enjoy being 'invisible':


  • Two-thirds (65%) said that they feel more confident as they get older.
  • Eight out of 10 (79%) said that they care less about what people think about them as they have aged.


65% believe that style and confidence have more to do with how people are treated than age, although only 6% said that they get more attention now than when they were younger.

Gransnet Editor Lara Crisp said, "No one likes to feel invisible or be ignored while out at a restaurant or asking for help at a shop. People of any age should be able to go about their daily lives without being discriminated against and the results of this survey are further evidence that everyday ageism exists. The 'invisibility divide' between men and women is particularly worrying, fuelling pressure on women to appear 'younger' in order to be taken seriously whilst men are judged less on their looks."


Read the full survey results here.









Images: Shutterstock