I am a 49-year-old philosopher who has recently successfully defended his PhD at a Western European (non-UK) philosophy department.
My reading committee agreed that the PhD was excellent, worthy to be published as a book. I have a strong publication record of some 15 papers in good general and specialist journals, including PhilStudies, Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, Biology & Philosophy, Dialectica, Synthese, and 6 more in edited book volumes. I am also an enthusiastic and effective teacher.
Yet I find now that I am being turned down for postdocs within my university and for postdocs organized by the national research foundation of my country, in favor of younger candidates whose publication record is at best equivalent to mine, or in many cases, inferior. Even a small travel grant that has a baseline chance of success of 80 % has been rejected, because the committee "have a preference for younger candidates" (a direct translation of their policy, which can be found online). I suspect that few departments would be willing to hire a 49-year-old in a tenure track position, but I am baffled as to why my age should play a role for positions that offer 3 or at most 6 years of postdoc experience (these positions cannot be turned into a TT position and cannot be extended).
Why is ageism still an accepted form of bigotry? There is so much talk of letting people work longer to combat the costs associated with an aging population, but if you decide to go to college again in your late thirties (as I did) you are severely penalized, even if you are a successful PhD student.
Any thoughts from people in the same situation? How do you surmount ageism? How do you deal with it in application materials?
What say you, Smokers?