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‘I’m older but I can still do this job’: the experiences of mature women in an age-sensitive occupation

Rowson, T. S. ORCID: and Gonzalez-White, M. D. C. (2019) ‘I’m older but I can still do this job’: the experiences of mature women in an age-sensitive occupation. Educational Gerontology, 45 (4). pp. 248-258. ISSN 1521-0472

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/03601277.2019.1611223


This paper explores how mature female flight attendants [FAs] use Selection, Optimization and Compensation [SOC] strategies to cope with age-related diminishing resources at work. FA is an age-sensitive occupation, and in some organisations, women are under constant pressure to look young and attractive. This Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis study aims to add depth and nuance to our understanding of SOC strategies qualitatively; most published studies are quantitative. A homogenous sample of 5 mature single Filipina FAs, foreign workers employed by Arabian Gulf-based airlines, were interviewed through a semi-structured protocol. Recruitment was through a snowball process. The study found that FAs use SOC strategies to compensate for age-related decline. Off-duty, their focus is directed to activities that help them to meet the organisations’ expectations of youthful appearance and productivity. To achieve this, resources from other life domains are diverted, which leads to negative outcomes from focussing SOC strategies on only one aspect of life. Despite negative personal implications and concerns about the future, the participants still felt attached to their work identities. This shows the importance of understanding the use of SOC strategies within and across life domains, as well as its implications for career sustainability and workability. The use of such strategies at work when detrimental to other life roles is unsustainable. The findings highlight the importance of conducting more qualitative studies on SOC behaviours o specific groups, so the experiences of ageing at work can be explored in more depth allowing areas of concern to be identified.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:84110
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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