Older women workers - will they be ready for the future workplace?
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New Zealand, like other developed countries, has an ageing population and an ageing workforce (OECD, 2006a). This study looks at one age cohort of women, 50 years and over, who in the last few decades have become more visible in New Zealand workplaces (McPherson, 2009). Eleven women, between 50 and 65 years of age, employed in administrative roles at Auckland University of Technology [AUT University] were the sample group. The study aimed to gain an understanding of how stereotypes affect the self-efficacy of older women working in administration roles and whether negative stereotypes had an influence on their decision-making to undertake training and development opportunities. A qualitative case study explored participants’ views on four main areas; training and development opportunities within the organisation; stereotypical attitudes; perception of their own identity within the workplace and finally, their future development expectations. The study built on previous New Zealand studies around stereotypical attitudes associated with the older worker (e.g., McGregor & Gray, 2002; Wilson & Kan, 2006). Underpinning this study was the assumption there is a link between negative stereotypical attitudes and the older workers’ self-efficacy towards undertaking training and development opportunities suggested in previous studies (e.g., Maurer, 2001). Findings from this study showed whilst the women had a positive self-identity and did not outwardly associate with the negative stereotypes of the older worker, stereotypical attitudes did affect older administrative women to some extent. In particular, the study identified a link between stereotypical attitudes and the participants’ self-efficacy towards seeking future employment. The research concluded that overall there was no definite link between negative stereotypical attitudes and participants’ self-efficacy to undertake training and development. However, the study did help identify areas where Auckland University of Technology [AUT University] could introduce new initiatives to develop their older female administrative workers so they can reach their full potential.