Older women are not only reclaiming their place in offices, breaking glass ceilings across professions, they are also better at adapting to the fast paced changes of the modern world. I didn’t say that, an MIT expert did. According to Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “One of the greatest under-appreciated sources of innovation and new business may in fact be women over 50 with new ideas, lots of life ahead of them and with the verve to get it done. Coughlin is the author of The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market, and he bets that the future is female, older women, to be specific. He is not wrong, is he?
- An MIT expert says that the future is female, or rather belongs to older women.
- Older women are more prepared for life after middle-age, he says.
- Perhaps the bias that we encounter helps us adapt to be resilient and strong.
- Older women are care-givers, run their homes, in control of their finances, and are also demanding to set the rules of their relationships.
According to Coughlin, women are taking lead in relationships, especially when it comes to pulling the plug on one. He says that most of the divorces among 50-plus couples in the US are initiated by women.
According to Coughlin, women are living longer, have more education than ever, “chief consumer officers” in the house - who decided what merchandise and groceries are bought, and are caregivers to elders and children in their families. Adding to that, older women are now moving to entrepreneurship increasingly, they are saving money and are in general, better prepared for old age. What’s more, according to Coughlin, women are taking lead in relationships, especially when it comes to pulling the plug on one. He says that most of the divorces among 50-plus couples in the US are initiated by women.
Coughlin’s findings may be specific to the US; one can see how many aspects of it may also be true for a culturally contrasting set up such as India. While women are dropping out of workforce, and still struggling with patriarchy to attain equality both in and outside of their homes, it is equally true that they are tough and resilient, and thus in a better frame of mind to deal with problems that middle and old age present to a person, namely, career-stagnation, eldercare, changing technology, financial stability and dysfunctional relationships.
Somehow, the challenges that this sexist and biased world presents to us since a very early age, prepares us to take hardships in our stride. What’s more, it conditions women into seeking solutions and jump into the deeper end of the pool of challenges rather than be intimidated by them. While the stereotyping of women as caregivers and home-makers is unfair, over generations women have adapted themselves to work around the system and squeeze in their personal brand of empowerment in their personal and professional lives.
Women have been quietly harvesting the knowledge and experience that bias and hardships bring their way and slowly the centre of power is shifting, in business, homes, relationships, literature and even films.
Take duties like elder-care and childcare for instance. A lot of women have to leave well-paying jobs and stay at home to be caregivers. While it meant financial dependence on husbands and absolute loss or professional standing some years ago, women have up-skilled themselves, to seek work from home or part-time/freelance opportunities, which help them salvage their careers to an extent. A steady income also means that women have financial independence and thus are in charge of their expenditure, savings and investments.
Infact, according to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) data of all the insurance policies purchased, 32 percent are bought by women, indicating a shift in mind-set among women. Women no longer believe in leaving financial matters to the men in their lives. Also, while not all skills in life may equip you for a decent pay-check, there are many which one can call “life-skills” that make survival and sustenance easier. Buying grocery and medications, accompanying the elderly to the doctors, means that women are better equipped to handle emergency situations in the family. They know whom to call and where to go.
Add all these adaptations and life skills to the sense of agency and independence that age brings us, is it even surprising if the MIT expert found out that older woman will “rule the world”? Hardly, it is just that our perception of power and authority keeps us from seeing capability and efficiency as impressive personal skills. Women have been quietly harvesting the knowledge and experience that bias and hardships bring their way and slowly the centre of power is shifting, in business, homes, relationships, literature and even films. At the end of the day if life is all about survival, then bring it on, we are ready.
Image Credit: Glamour.com
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.