Why Are Gen X Women and Their Problems Always Left Out of the Conversation?

Stressed Woman at Work

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
July 20, 2024 at 6:24AM UTC

Generation X is defined as the generation that was born just after the baby boomers (from around 1946 to about 1964) and preceding Millennials (from around 1981 to about 1996). They were born between 1965 and 1980, and they're perceived as having independence and are touted for their resourcefulness. 

While these are great characteristics, not everything associated with this generation is positive. The Gen X population often feels like the "forgotten generation" or the "left out generation." That's exactly what FGB'er Pvenneman said she's experienced in a post addressed to the FGB Community.

"I read an article today that completely left us out when talking about generations — it isn’t the first time I have seen this happen; it happens often, actually," she writes. "Yeah, we may be seen as the apathetic, whatever generation, but we have hopes and dreams and goals, as well. I read more than once that women my age are dealing with a lot of anxiety because we are not only juggling home and family, but we are the generation helping our boomer parents while still supporting our millennial or Z kids. We were also hit the hardest during the recession because everything we were in the middle of building (careers and nest eggs) came crashing down around us. I know I am not the only Gen X person feeling this way, and I am not whining. I am just trying to figure out how we make sure that we aren’t overlooked."

Pvenneman says that she still has a good 20 to 25 years of work left in her — perhaps even more, because she has not been able to save for retirement. 

"Let’s all have each other’s backs, no matter the generation," she adds. "We are going through a lot right now."

Other FGB'ers felt similarly, chiming in with their own obstacles. Here are seven challenges members of Generation X say they're tired of facing, at work and at home.

1. They're trying to catch up in saving for retirement.

"Us Gen X ladies seems to get looked over again and again," says Mimi R. Bishop. "Gen X ladies are dealing with a lot — juggling trying to get caught up with retirement, dealing with kids while helping older parents. We are resilient and used to rolling up our sleeves and getting the job done, but we need to take care of ourselves, too."

2. They're struggling to find employers who share Gen X values.

"It isn't an easy time to be working in corporate as a Gen Xer," adds Jackie Ghedine. "The work and research I do on our generation shows how our generation is all about quietly producing great work in the corner and, unfortunately, it has made it very easy to be forgotten. We were of the belief that, if we did great work than we would be rewarded but, unfortunately, the game has changed (and we don't know the new rules). Organizations are flattening and the few leadership positions aren't being vacated by Boomers or there aren't enough seats for all those who want to move up. Finding an organization that values experience and efficiency over other things can help — and don't forget to let your voice be known."

3. They're taking care of aging parents.

"It sure hasn't been an easy time, and now we're in the crunch mode of taking care of our aging parents," says Mimi R. Bishop.

4. They're raising families and aging children, too.

On top of caring for aging parents, many Gen Xers are also raising children and now dealing with their adult children moving back in or creating lives of their own and, as such, needing support.
"It is extremely difficult to care for parents and children and try to work; it’s a juggling act that, at times, had me in the bathroom crying at midnight," says Violette1. "It's the guilt of being spread so thin that you don’t feel like you took good care of anyone. You do the best you can." 

5. They're facing ageism.

"Many of us started working in recession in the early 1990’s, and the leadership positions we have worked towards and waited our turns are skipping us," says . "Now , we are facing ageism. It’s exhausting.  Luckily I have always doubled down saving for retirement, but I still have 15 years left to work before qualifying for Medicare."
Others feel it, too.
"I am finding this situation all too common amongst friends," adds an anonymous FGB'er. "I had kids later in life so I have an nine-year-old and a 13-year-old. In the past five years, I have had to care and then bury both my parents and clean up their financial mess. I have always worked from home while raising my kids as a bookkeeper, personal assistant and professional organizer. Now I am ready to go back to work full time but cannot seem to find anything above $15 an hour... Ageism is a real thing. I just never thought I would experience it at 48."

6. They're fighting for the spotlight.

"I'm a Gen X woman who sacrificed my career to care for aging parents and young children (not my own)," says an anonymous FGBer. "I have little saved for retirement because I've been in and out of the workforce to act as a caregiver. So, I too, (and many others) am having to hustle and become very creative to try to catch up. [We're always left out of the conversation] because millennials are the ones running the show. So either they're the ones focusing on themselves or others are catering to them because they're the 'in crowd.' They are discussed and dissected ad nauseam. I'm also not whining, however, in order to solve a problem we have to be honest about it... I think the answer is for Gen X to start making some noise in the media. We've not gone the way of the dinosaur (yet) and are still here. We have much to offer in the workforce and society. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be marginalized."

7. They're struggling to pay off debts.

"College was more expensive for many of us; housing was more expensive for many of us; we had recessions, the dot com bubble, and the housing bubble happen RIGHT as we were trying to get established," says Laura Talon. "As a younger Gen Xer, I not only had a mess of a marriage, too, but it also took me years and multiple career pivots to get established in my career. I don’t think any of us are ungrateful for missing some of the nonsense boomer women had to contend with in the workplace, but... every generation has its struggles."
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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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