Originally, ageism was understood to be prejudice, stereotypes, and discriminatory behavior targeted at older employees. But with an increasingly diverse and multigenerational workforce, age bias now occurs across the career life cycle — especially for women. “Youngism” refers to ageism toward younger adults, fueled by the conflation of age with maturity and the misperception that tenure is required for competency. Even middle-aged women are feeling the effects of age bias.

Age diversity in the workplace yields better organizational performance while perceived age discrimination creates lower job satisfaction and engagement. The good news is that there are practical steps for leaders to combat this never-right gendered age bias. First, recognize ageism in your organization; you can’t fix a problem that isn’t there. Next, with your employees, address “lookism,” and focus on skills, no matter who has them. Finally, cultivate creative collaborations to encourage learning across age groups.