Women over 50 are up to 25 times less likely to be called for a job interview than women in their late 20s, new research from Anglia Ruskin University’s Lord Ashcroft International Business School shows.

An experiment measuring job applications revealed a disparity between the chances of applicants being offered an interview based on their age, despite similar experience and qualifications. The difference proved to be much wider for women.

Andrew Crudge, employment specialist associate at Thomas Eggar LLP:

“Age discrimination against job applicants is evidently still widespread. New research confirms what was already widely suspected: older applicants are far less likely to be offered a job interview compared to their similarly skilled, but younger, counterparts.

“This, of course, isn’t lawful.  Discrimination laws apply to job applicants just as they do to employees. The issue is that this type of discrimination is incredibly difficult to prove. The older applicant wouldn’t have immediate access to the other applicants’ details, so they would usually never know that their age was a factor.

“However, if an applicant does suspect discrimination, they can submit questions to the employer to help determine this.  Based on the research, it seems that the employer’s responses would often provide evidence in support of the applicant’s claim.”

Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University’s Lord Ashcroft International Business School conducted an experiment where they used constructed CVs of “jobseekers” aged 28 to 50 with similar skill sets to apply for more than 1,800 jobs over the space of two years.

Results showed that candidates in their 20s were on average 4.2 times more likely to receive an interview offer. Younger men were 3.6 times more likely to reach the next stage in an application, compared to 5.3 times for women.

Andrew Crudge added:

“Some have argued that discrimination laws are no longer necessary because employers simply don’t discriminate anymore.  This research demonstrates that this is clearly not correct, and so employees and job applicants need protection against discrimination now as much as ever.”