Date of Conferral
Despite an aging U. S. workforce, age discrimination at work remains an issue. Researchers have found that beliefs about the aging process affect workers' performance and attitudes. There is little research available examining this phenomenon from the perception of older workers. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of 7 workers aged 55 and older regarding ageism through the theoretical framework of stereotype threat theory. Research questions focused on identifying age-related stereotypes held by the participants, the influence of those stereotypes on perceptions of aging, perception of the impact of aging on job performance, and experienced ageism and discrimination in the workplace. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using a modified Stevick Colazzi method to group significant statements into themes and form a composite description that included textural and structural description. Themes that emerged from the study included culturally absorbed stereotypes of helplessness, acceptance of the participants' aging process, positive perceptions of themselves as older workers, a perceived pressure to retire from coworkers, self-identified physical limitations, and life-stage acceptance. Overall, older workers reported a relatively positive self-image and positive perceptions of work performance by supervisors and coworkers. The findings of this study may contribute to social change by informing employers and employee assistance counselors how to address the realistic needs and concerns of older workers. Further studies in aging may promote understanding of aging not as equaling decline but as a time of opportunity to continue to make contributions to the community regardless of chronological age.