4 Things You Can Learn From Your Older Female Co-Workers, Because We're All In This Together

Co-workers can make or break your work life. If you love yours, you're lucky, and if you hate them, you're screwed. Although the gender of your colleagues doesn't necessarily impact what they have to offer, for us ladies, there is a special kind of mentoring that older female co-workers do have on lock.

I once worked in an office for years and never really had close contact with anyone outside my age bracket until my boss assigned a consultant in her 50s to help me finish a project. I met this personnel change with an immature eye roll, but soon found out that the woman was actually super cool and had a ton of great stories to regale me with during lunch breaks. While this won't always be the case, this particular incident helped me rethink the ways I viewed age in the workplace and how I viewed my own future in the company.

According to a recent op-ed in New York Magazine, my experience is exactly why we need more women of different ages in the workplace, particularly in fields where women as a whole are underrepresented. Here are four things you can learn from your older female co-workers, because solidarity isn't just for the under 40 set.

1. How To Navigate Your Field As A Woman

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Contrary to some reports, we haven't reached gender equality in the workforce just yet, so being a working woman still has its challenges. Older female co-workers know this better than any of us, and can teach us a thing or two about building a lifelong career.

2. How To Strike A Work-Life Balance

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If you're planning on having kids, hearing how other professional women were able to do so and keep their jobs can be super helpful. And if you're not, it's also useful to discuss how you can plan your work life accordingly with someone who also made the same choice many years ago.

3. How Far Women In The Workforce Have Come

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In many respects, it's much easier to be working-while-female these days, and hearing stories from your older female co-workers about fielding office sexism back in their day (hello, Mad Men!) only helps confirm that (some) progress has been made.

4. How To Work Better With Women

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While outdated stereotypes suggest that female co-workers and bosses are more likely to tear you down than offer you a hand up, recent studies have disproven this theory. Granted, the "queen bee syndrome" still exists in certain offices with certain women, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a lot from women in their 40s to 60s about the ways patriarchal conditioning pits us against each other in the workplace, and what we can do to resist it.

Images: NBC; Giphy (4)