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University staff told not to use words like 'elderly' or 'pensioner' because it's 'ageist'

University staff told not to use words like 'elderly' or 'pensioner' because it's 'ageist'

Workers at the University of Manchester have been requested to call people aged 60 and over ‘mature individuals’

The University of Manchester has asked staff not to use terms such as ‘pensioner’ and ‘elderly’ as they have deemed ‘ageist’. 

According to a report on inclusive language in the school’s guide, workers at the university have been requested to call people aged 60 and over ‘mature individuals’ instead, as per The Telegraph.

The report said: “Only include age if it is relevant, for example with initiatives that are only available for a particular age group.

“Don’t use age as a means to describe an individual or group where it is not relevant, such as ‘mature workforce’ or ‘young and vibrant team’.

“We actively avoid ageist terms such as ‘elderly’, ‘OAPs [old-age pensioner]’, ‘pensioners’ or ‘youngsters’, instead using terms that are objective.”

So, the terms ‘senile’ and ‘ancient’ are definitely out of the question.

Julian Eales / Alamy Stock Photo

A spokesperson for the university told The Telegraph: “Our guidance document encourages the use of more inclusive language to avoid bias or assumptions and not to talk to people in ways they might perceive as disrespectful.”

They added that they hope the guide promotes ‘commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion’ while informing people how to communicate in the ‘most appropriate and respectful way’.

They continued: “Our approach is in line with most other organisations, who would not use ‘OAP’ in an official communication.”

Similarly, according to How to Avoid Ageist Language in Aging Research? An Overview and Guidelines, the term ‘elder’ is acceptable; however ‘elderly’ is not.

Sergio Azenha / Alamy Stock Photo

The book cites the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (1995), which says that the term elderly usually elicits imagery of someone fragile and dependent.

They added: “These connotations are inaccurate and misleading because older people can also remain active, independent, and robust.”

Additionally, in a survey conducted by WerkLabs, 60 per cent of surveyed participants had said that they had experienced ageism in the workplace.

Among those people, 75 per cent reported having experienced age discrimination during a job search. 

ResumeBuilder also published a recent study where nearly 40 per cent of hiring managers acknowledge reviewing applicants’ resumes with age bias.

Around 80 per cent of surveyed employees said they had reservations about hiring employees aged 60 and over.

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Jankunas / Alamy Stock Photo. Ben Schonewille / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News