Age and Experience: Tackling the Dreaded Conundrum to Inclusivity

“A basic truism in gerontology is that age per se is meaningless: it is always mediated through social processes and cultural attitudes.” (John Macnicol, 2006)

On March the 13th we witnessed the 95th Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, where history was made on multiple grounds. Stealing the spotlight were two of Hollywood’s greatest women, Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis, winning Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively, for the film Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022). In Yeoh’s speech as she collected her award, she goes to say:

“For all the little boys and girls, that look like me, watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dreams, dream big and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you, you are past your prime. Never give up.”

Her words were significant, for Yeoh had made history. History as the first East Asian actress, of Chinese-Malaysian heritage to win the award, bringing visibility to such minority communities on the grounds of racial difference. Simultaneously, and perhaps more pertinently, her speech also addressed, what sometimes is seen to be a hidden conversation, one which references age, and in this case, at the intersections with gender. This Oscars along with other key award ceremony’s this year, were dubbed “as the year that actresses in mid-life and beyond are finally getting their due.” (1) Along with Yeoh, we saw actresses like Angela Bassett and Jennifer Coolidge, all in their 60s being nominated, with statistics proving that women over 40 made up 4 out of 5 of the nominations for best Actress at the Oscars, and 5 out of 6 of the leading Actress and Supporting Actress nominations at the Bafta’s.

Moving away from the workings of gender, on the flip side of the social perceptions around age, on March the 28th, we saw Humza Yousaf being sworn in as the current First Minister of Scotland. Not only is he the first minister of South Asian heritage and who is Muslim, but who has also become the youngest person to take up post at the age of 37. It is worth noting here, that the First Ministers first role within the political landscape, came in 2006, when he worked as a parliamentary assistant for Bashir Ahmad, Scotland’s first Muslim MSP in 2007 until Ahmad’s death two years later. He also went on to be a parliamentary assistant for other MSPs, including Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, who 16 years later, he has now taken over from.

This article then, looks to the question of age, from both sides of the spectrum. It will look to why age is part of the Equality Act and how discrimination plays out, where for example someone perceives you to be older or younger than you are and treats you unfairly because of it. In any case, age should not be an issue when it comes to getting the right person to do the job, however we know that throwaway comments that you might often hear in the workplace, around age, such as “being over the hill”, “of a certain age”, “little old lady”, or “your young and naïve”, would suggest otherwise.


To read the full article, “Every Statement Needs a Platform: Guidance For When to Make a Statement”, you must be a PILAA Member.




(1) White, T (2023) Women Over 60 Are Finally Winning Awards, But Is It Enough? ELLE online. Available at []

(2) Macnicol, J., 2006. Age discrimination: An historical and contemporary analysis. Cambridge University Press.