Is it harder to succeed at work as a woman over 50? Not at these companies

April 1, 2024
Women over 50 at work

Knowing can be uncomfortable.
Knowing the difficulty women face in the workplace is uncomfortable.
Knowing that this difficulty is often compounded as they age is… well it’s downright frustrating.

Of course, men experience ageism as well, but here’s the big difference. Research shows that as men age, they are viewed more positively when it comes to employment and work.
Which might be why despite intending to retire around the age of 64, the average age of retirement for women is just 52.

But knowledge is also power. By knowing, these statistics we can take action to work for employers that foster inclusive workplaces where every individual’s unique journey is valued – no matter their age.

Employers like AngloGold Ashanti, Softcat, EY, Accenture, and Moone Valley City Council. Each has been endorsed by WORK180 as an employer supporting women. And better yet, each has a remarkable story to tell about how they support women over 50.

In this article, we share the powerful narratives of five remarkable women. These women share the aspirations they still have for their careers, the moments when their employers truly supported and included them in the workplace, and some invaluable advice for those seeking to continue to thrive in their careers at their age.

AngloGold Ashanti Australia | Softcat | EY | Accenture | Moonee Valley City Council

AngloGold Ashanti Australia

Mining, resources & energy | 501-1,000 employees

Gabriela Baladova is an Exploration Geologist at AngloGold Ashanti Australia.

“I am 60 years old. I completed a Masters in a combination of geology and foreign languages at Charles University, Prague in 1987. Two years later there was a velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia…”

Tell us more about your career, and how you hope to grow over the next 10 years?

“After the removal of the Communist government, a lot of industries were consequently shut down or re-organized. Mining was among them, and a lot of geologists lost their jobs.

“On the other hand, other jobs were in demand, for example teachers of English. Thanks to my experimental study, I had another degree ready so I could start teaching at a high school.

“Ten years later, I participated in Fulbright Program (international exchange of teachers and students), and I got an opportunity to teach for a school year at a high school in Arizona, US.

“After that, I travelled around the US with my two little daughters. I visited all the magnificent geological features I had learnt about when I was studying geology back in the 1980s. During the trip, I realized I missed geology, a lot.

“I started looking for a geologist role in the countries that offer positions in exploration geology. Australia was one of them. It took me eight years to find my desired job in Australia.

“I would love to continue what I am doing and work on my skills at being an even better geologist. I would also love to see other mines and deposits.”

Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported in your current workplace.

“When I studied back in the 1980s, there were no computers and no internet. I came back to geology after 20 years and it was not easy to catch up with all the progress in technology that geology is using today.

“The Senior Geologist at the time, taught me how to use Vulcan and Leapfrog and was very patient with me. This made me feel supported and gave me skills I didn’t have before.

“These new skills helped me discover a deposit as a Greenfield Geologist, and I contributed to the discovery of the Astro Steeps deposit here at Sunrise Dam.”

What advice would you offer other women over 50 who are looking for a new job right now?

“Where is the will there is a way.

“Whenever I start something for the first time, I always tell myself: If others could do it, I can do it, too.”


IT, digital, & online media services | 1,001-5,000 employees

Sarah Jane Sydenham (she/her) is Head of Internal Procurement at Softcat

“With 24 years of service to Softcat, I have witnessed and experienced the transitional phase of perimenopause for approximately five years and now into menopause.”

Tell us more about your career, and how you hope to grow over the next 10 years?

“Two years ago, I discussed my career path with our then CFO. I shared my desire to no longer manage people, a task that had become increasingly challenging as I began to navigate through menopause.

“I was encouraged by his response: ‘We have to think about an alternative that benefits both you and the business.’

“Consequently, I was transferred to the Head of Internal Procurement, a change from my former role as Head of Operations.

“Since Softcat has provided me with the opportunity to continue my professional development, I feel extremely fortunate. Changing from a highly reactive, people-management role to one that is project-oriented and focused on specific outcomes is not only aligned with my current needs, but also leverages my strengths.

Softcat‘s support has been remarkable in facilitating this transition, allowing me to grow and develop without the stress of menopause.”

Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported in your current workplace.

“The menopause policy at Softcat and its supportive network are remarkable examples of workplace empathy and adaptability.

“The support network that was established is not only a testament to the organization’s inclusive culture but also serves as a beacon of hope for those undergoing similar experiences.

“Moreover, the introduction of tangible resources, such as the weekly availability of experienced Menopause GP support at the head office and a virtual clinic catering to other offices, underlines Softcat’s practical commitment to employee wellness.

“My own challenges with menopause-related symptoms were confidence issues, hot flushes, and overall capacity. Softcat‘s exceptional support system showcased the company’s flexibility and understanding by tailoring a role that accommodated my needs during a challenging period.”

What advice would you offer other women over 50 who are looking for a new job right now?

“Having identified a gap in awareness and support, I launched a support network for employees navigating through menopause, which now has around 40 members.

“To foster a supportive work environment, I began with a management meeting about menopause struggles and symptom management. It highlighted the pressing need for such an initiative from the overwhelming response from colleagues who cited personal and familial struggles. This initial meeting marked the genesis of an ongoing campaign to increase menopause awareness within Softcat, fostering a culture of support and understanding.”


Consulting & professional services | 5,001-10,000 employees

Lisa Smith (she/her) is a Partner – People Consulting at EY.

“I am 56. In the past, at 56 many would have considered retirement. However, today’s fast-changing world and ageing population present a wealth of opportunity for women my age.”

Tell us more about your career, and how you hope to grow over the next 10 years?

“As a partner, my career is unlikely to grow through promotion.

“However, by staying current through continued learning and a network of diverse relationships, I will remain excited and challenged, expanding the services I provide to my clients and supporting the development of our future leaders.”

Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported in your current workplace.

“A time I felt truly supported was when the EY organization removed the partner retirement age of 60, thus removing a barrier to career progression for me.

“This provided an opportunity for me to strive for partnership at the age of 54, something I had previously thought was out of reach.”

What advice would you offer other women over 50 who are looking for a new job right now?

“My advice to any woman over 50 is to understand a prospective employer’s values, mission, and culture. Research how employees are treated, the company’s approach to work-life balance, and its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“Don’t be afraid at an interview to ask for insights into the employee experience, career development opportunities, and work environment. Stay up to date on company news, press releases, and industry publications to understand the company’s recent accomplishments, challenges, and future to be sure it’s the right organization for you.

“I would also recommend you reflect on the experiences and knowledge gained throughout your career and encourage you to seek feedback from others on what they see as your strengths. Often we don’t see or acknowledge these ourselves.

“I can’t highlight enough, how important connections are, including former colleagues and industry contacts. Be open to exploring different industries or jobs that could benefit from your expertise and emphasize your ability to adapt to change and learn quickly.

“Be bold and ask someone you have seen successfully transition to a new role or industry to mentor you, someone who can provide guidance and support as you navigate your job search and career transition.”


IT, digital, & online media services | 5,001-10,000 employees

Philippa Spork is Chief of Staff at Accenture ANZ.

“I’m 52. My mother always told me how much she loved her career in her 50s – and I have to agree with her.”

Tell us more about your career, and how you hope to grow over the next 10 years?

“When my mother retired at 60, she said she’d achieved and earned more in the last 10 years than she had expected.

“I agree with her – because now I’m older and wiser, care far less what people think of me, and I’m starting to think about what the next phase of my life might look like. I would like to think my career evolves over the next 10 years, and I’m looking forward to doing it in my own style and at my own pace.

“I’d like to start leveraging more of what I know, and not as much of what I DO. I would love to share what I’ve learned about people, clients, and creativity over the years, with the next generations who are juggling small children and all the pressure that comes along with that.

“I am lucky to have older children now, with more freedom to navigate work around me not the kids.”

Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported in your current workplace.

“I have always felt supported by my workplace when it comes to my family. If one of the kids is sick, or I need to go to a graduation or a school assembly, nobody has batted an eyelid.

“The new fans that Accenture has introduced as part of their menopause support are awesome! I definitely get hotter.”

What advice would you offer other women over 50 who are looking for a new job right now?

“If you’re over 50 and looking for a new job? Be confident and challenge yourself to explore areas where you can add value, whether in a new space or not.

“Now more than ever it’s important to be true to who you are and where you want to be.

“For most of us over 50, it’s less about the kids and more about us! So, my advice is to look for roles where you can leverage your experience and knowledge where it’s needed, share it with the new leaders coming through the ranks and always be honest about what you want at this stage in your career.”

Moonee Valley City Council

Local, state, & federal government | 1,001-5,000 employees

Laura Campbell Change Management Advisor from Moonee Valley City Council.

“I am 56. We mature women bring so much to the workforce and there are plenty of employers looking for that perspective.”

Tell us more about your career, and how you hope to grow over the next 10 years?

“As a change management advisor, I’d love to see my role become redundant. It’s a pipe dream, I know, but imagine our people leaders being so skilled in their role of supporting staff to transition through change that my services are no longer required.

“Instead, I imagine the next 10+ years of my career will be to continue to grow and develop professionally so that I can support our leaders at all levels to support their staff and make sense out of change.”

Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported in your current workplace.

“I started in this role just as we were starting to return to offices after the worst of the pandemic. On my first day in my role, I attended a large engagement session which brought together people from across the organization to codesign our people plan. I was offered the opportunity to give an impromptu introduction to myself and my role.

“Never one to turn down a chance to take the stage and discuss change management I gleefully began rambling about what good change looks like and how we have an obligation to support our staff. I was thrilled by how many people came to me that day and in the weeks to follow to share their enthusiasm about change management and a willingness to collaborate. In the years since I have had so many exciting opportunities to collaborate on projects, support and coach leaders, and develop and deliver important initiatives.

Moonee Valley City Council also offer alternative work arrangements for employees due to extreme menopause or menstruation discomfort. It is enshrined in our 2021-2024 Enterprise Agreement. It provides provisions for offering alternative duties on the conditions equal to their substantive role.”

What advice would you offer other women over 50 who are looking for a new job right now?

“If I were to give advice to a woman over 50 looking for a new job now, I would encourage them to reflect on their knowledge and experience from all aspects of their life and how they can bring that into their new career.

“Women my age have memories of being subservient in a male-dominated workforce and a lot has changed. Thankfully there are many organizations, such as Moonee Valley City Council who value diversity, be it gender, ethnicity, ability or identity.”

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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