Anne Hathaway was told her career would end at age 35. She’s not alone.

Here's how to ensure your career ends only when YOU want it to…

Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathway has opened up about the sexist ageism she faced during the early days of her impressive career.

In an interview with Porter, the Devil Wears Prada star revealed, “When I started out as a child, I was warned that my career would fall off a cliff at the age of 35, which is something I know a lot of women face.”

“The thing that has evolved during [that time] is that more women are having careers deeper into their lives, which I think is fantastic,” she continued.

However, despite praising the evolving narrative surrounding women’s career development stalling after a certain age, Anne, 41, also pointed out that women still do face inequalities in the workplace.

“Obviously, it doesn’t mean we should have a ticker-tape parade; someone said this to me the other day, ‘There’s so much to be proud of and there’s so much to fix.’”

anne hathaway - women's career devlopment

There’s so much to fix indeed. Women being told their career will end in their 30s isn’t just experienced by Hollywood A-listers.

In fact, according to recruitment specialist Roxanne Calder, “Anne was fortunate.”

“She had the luxury of being ‘told’ her career would end by age 35 and thus the chance at rebuttal. For the rest of us, instead, the shocking reality is that it is implied, inferred and assumed our careers will end in our 30s – mostly due to societal views and residual patriarchal conditioning,” Roxanne explains to The Weekly.

What holds women back in their careers?

“Motherhood is the main catalyst propping up the myth of career decline. Taking any time away from work has an impact and of course, affects confidence levels.

“Therein enters self-esteem erosion, imposter syndrome, negative self-talk, and the cycle begins,” Roxanne says.

anne hathaway - women's career devlopment

Megan Dalla-Camina, Founder and CEO of Women Rising, agrees and says, “The intersection of motherhood and work has a profound impact on the perceived career trajectory for women, often subjecting them to various biases and challenges in balancing family responsibilities with professional growth.”

“One significant bias is the ‘motherhood penalty,’ where women are unfairly judged or passed over for opportunities due to the assumption that they may be less committed or less productive after becoming mothers,” she explains.

“This bias can lead to fewer promotions, lower pay, and diminished career prospects for mothers. Women also face societal expectations and pressure to excel in both their roles as caregivers and professionals, which can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

“The lack of adequate family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave or flexible work arrangements, further exacerbates the challenges faced by working mothers, making it difficult for many women to maintain a steady career trajectory.”

How can I continue to develop my career?

If you’re a woman over 30 wanting to know how to ensure your career ends only when you want it to (whether that’s in 10 years or 50), Roxanne says, “Self-confidence and self-esteem are your tools and power.”

anne hathaway - women's career devlopment

“You must have a growth mentality and work consistently on self-awareness. You choose your career and life, not what society says. Be authentic, often uncomfortable, to enable learning and keep abreast of changes, and trends to upskill.”

Megan adds that you should never be afraid of your career stalling. “Millions of women have thriving careers in their forties and beyond,” she says before sharing several helpful tips that’ll ensure your career continues, no matter your age.

  • Continuous Learning: Invest in ongoing education and skill development to stay relevant in a rapidly changing job market. Consider taking courses, attending workshops, or pursuing advanced degrees to enhance your qualifications.
  • Mentorship, Sponsorship and Networking: Seek out mentors and sponsors, both within and outside your organisation, who can provide guidance, advocacy and support. Networking remains essential; build and nurture professional relationships to stay informed about opportunities and industry trends.
  • Visibility and Self-Promotion: Don’t hesitate to promote your achievements and expertise. Showcase your skills through public speaking, social media, writing, or volunteering for high-profile projects within your workplace.
  • Advocate for Equal Opportunities: Advocate for yourself and others, challenging age-related biases and advocating for equal opportunities within your workplace.
  • Consider Entrepreneurship: If appropriate, explore entrepreneurship or consulting opportunities where your experience and expertise can shine without age-related constraints.”

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