It was probably more than 15 years ago when I first heard someone refer to middle-aged women as invisible. It was incredibly depressing...even for someone who felt like she had eons until she was middle-aged.
The eons went by at light speed, but fate was with me. And the future is good. That someone may have been right about middle-aged gals then, but he (you knew it was a he didn't you?), is dead wrong now.
Women over 50 are 16% of the U.S. population, 22% of US adult population, and 41% of US adult female population. According to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau, every fifth adult in the United States is a female over 50...and plenty more are on their way!
As Avivah Wittenberg-Cox & Alison Maitland point out in their book Why Women Mean Business, women have been elected to the highest political office in countries from Germany to Finland and Chile and made their way to the foreground of presidential battles in France and the U.S. for the first time. They make up half the governments of countries like Spain, France, Finland, and Sweden.
As noted by USA Today, in January of 2009, 13 of the country's 500 largest publicly traded companies were headed by female CEOs. The Center for Women's Business Research has found that over the past 15 years, women have started 70% of new businesses and that relative to the economy at large, woman-owned businesses are growing twice as fast in number, three times as fast in employees, and four times as fast in sales revenues. And 73% of women business owners in nontraditional industries are age 45 or older.
And according to the National Institute for Educational Statistics, in 2006-07, women earned 62% of Associates, 57% of Bachelors, and 61% of Master's degrees.
So women over 40, and you thirty-somethings who feel that middle-age is eons away, take heart. You and I are members of the healthiest, wealthiest, most independent, most active, most educated, and most politically and economically powerful generation of women in history.
Guess we're not so invisible anymore!
To learn more about this extraordinary transformation and the opportunities it presents I highly recommend reading: The She Spot by Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen, Why Women Mean Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox & Alison Maitland, and my personal favorite, PrimeTime Women by Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women.