Last Thursday was International Women’s Day! I received flowers at lunch, but International Women’s Day is about more than celebrating women, it is about defending Women’s rights. It was created in 1909 in the United States, and still, more than a century later we still fight for Women’s rights. We also know that women from minorities suffer even more discrimination than other women. Today, I want to discuss a specific minority, Women 50+. Already in 1972, Susan Sontag in ‘The double standard of aging’ showed how women suffer even greater losses than men in the process. More than 50 years later, things have not changed so much but life expectancy has dramatically increased. Women 50+ experience a double discrimination, from gender and from age. For instance, in the United States, Women 50+ represent half of the unemployed and many of them live below the poverty line. In the corporate world, women over 50 are often under-represented in training programs and overrepresented in layoffs in disproportionate ways.

But the story that I really want to tell you is another one, it is the one of Women 50+ in the era of global longevity, with a high purchasing power, and a strong professional influence. In the new era of longevity, the global population of people 50 and over is growing from 1,9 billion in 2020 to 3,2 billion in 2050, with women representing a large part of the growth. Women 60+ represented 605 million in 2020 and will almost double to 1,14 billion by 2050. Just in demographic terms, women 50+ is a large and growing segment. On top of that, women outlive men and often care for multiple generations of family members. As a result, some studies evaluate that 64% of consumer purchases are in the hands (and pockets) of women and that by 2030, they will control 66% of America’s wealth. Despite this strong evidence, few companies focus on the potential of the global 50+ women’s market.

From a career perspective, women are now working longer (more in Nordic countries than in Southern Europe). By the time they reach 50, most have raised their kids who are now independent, and they have 20 years in front of them to achieve great things. Women in their fifties and sixties have accumulated lots of experiences both professionally and personally and are therefore a great segment to tap into for corporations. The Forbes ranking of the 100 most powerful women in the world, is a great illustration of that phenomenon. The first place is occupied by Ursula Von der Leyen, followed by Christine Lagarde and Kamala Harris, all three over 50 and the first two even over 60. In the list 80% of the women are over 50 and half are over 60! The 50+ women today are the most educated generation ever. They lacked role models from prior generations, but they are role models for future generations.

In conclusion, if you are a company, invest in your women 50+ by mapping their presence and their needs, training them, and making them visible … and use them to better understand the huge market opportunity that women 50+ represent. If you are a woman yourself, get ready for the next chapter ahead filled with great professional challenges, and use your economic and purchasing power to invent the woman 50+ to inspire future generations!

If you are interested in the topic of Longevity (across genders), check out our new program in Longevity Leadership covering the impact of longevity on countries, companies, consumers, careers and your own transition.

Have a great and impactful week!

Céline Abecassis-Moedas
Dean for Executive Education & Professor at Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics

This article refers to edition #232 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" newsletter, an initiative of the Center for Responsible Business & Leadership.