So, here’s a novel concept. What if we told you that women over 50 are starting to rule the world? You think we’re joking? The fact is that there are now more women in this country over 50 than at any other time in our history. They are healthier, better educated and they don’t plan on disappearing just because they have reached a certain age. In fact, women are realizing that a number doesn’t have to define who they are or what they can do. See? We told you it was a novel concept (at least to men). FirstLantic profiles a few of the women leading the way and they are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
While not a household name, Susan Zrinsky is a legend in broadcast journalism. She was the inspiration behind the character that Holly Hunt played in the movie Broadcast News. Now Susan Zirinsky, age 66, has become the first woman to lead CBS News. Despite having incredible qualifications including more than four decades at CBS as a broadcast journalist and an executive producer on “48h Hours,” Zrinsky is recognized as one of the hardest working people in television by her peers. She has won two Peabody awards, several Emmy’s, the Edward R. Murrow Award and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Television & Film Awards. And she regularly wakes up at 4:45 every morning and exercises seven days a week. That is almost as impressive as her credentials and her new job!
Donna Shalala from Florida became the oldest woman freshman to serve in the House of Representatives when she took office earlier this year at a young 78. A former academic who served as President of both the University of Miami and Hunter College, Representative Shalala also served as the 18th United States Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001. On June 19, 2008, Shalala was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush and in 2010 she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights and she also been awarded more than 50 honorary degrees. Shalala recently joined the Congressional softball team which is most likely also a record. Too old? Not anytime soon.
Ginni Rometty is the first female CEO of IBM and has been at the helm since 2012. She was 54 when she was appointed to the position. Rometty has put IBM on a new path steering it towards technologies of the future, such as cloud computing and blockchain, and is not afraid to take risks to accomplish her goals. In October 2018, she spearheaded the acquisition of cloud computing firm Red Hat for $34 billion which became the largest software deal in history. Rometty started her career at General Motors after receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern. She became an engineer in 1979 at a time when most women were not going into the fields of science or technology. Rometty is now considered one of the most influential people in the world and has won numerous accolades including, Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” Time’s 20 Most Important People in Tech and Forbes’ America’s Top 50 Women In Tech as well as Bloomberg’s 50 Most Influential People in the World. What an underachiever!
In summary, the women that we profiled are not only powerful, but they are also bucking the trend that women over 50 are obsolete. And while there are plenty of people that still dismiss women over a certain age, that eventually has to change. With the average life span of women in the U.S. at 81.1, more women are choosing to work well into their 60s and 70s with almost a third of women age 65 to 69 now working. And Susan Douglas, a professor at the University of Michigan who is writing a book on the power of older women, said “a demographic revolution” was occurring.“ Older women are now saying ‘No, I’m still vibrant, I still have a lot to offer, and I’m not going to be consigned to invisibility,’ ” Here, here — Let’s “raise a toast” to that!