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After reading various letters from many young adults considering leaving this area for better employment opportunities, I felt compelled to address another segment of the population. I am referring to the many midlife and older women who are feeling the lack of opportunity here in Western New York due, in part, to their age.

Ageism and its systematic discrimination is certainly a nationwide issue that seems to be statistically "invisible." Locally, I sensed its existence when a state agency completely overlooked my qualifications for part-time employment.

As a temporary worker with a federal agency, I gained further perspective of how the "fair to all" entrance exam, in reality, may be just portraying a nice-guy image. When the vast majority of newly hired workers in the three years preceding the examination fall into the 21-32 age bracket, new awareness must be gained.

I think most people are sympathetic to midlife and older women who find themselves unemployable for a lack of recent experience. This is compounded by sexism and a double standard that considers women old at an earlier age than men.

But baby-boomers, ages 35 to 50, are the largest bulge in the population. Employers should realize that many older women are willing to work hard and take stock in their lives. And many can offer flexibility without having to worry about day-care for young children.

We are all growing older. Employers should not let ageism permeate their thinking in subtle and unconscious ways.

Susan E. O'Connor

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