If my mom were telling you her life story, she would begin with her dad suffering a stroke when she was very little and having to grow up with no money. Despite such humble beginnings, my mom’s career has never been about money. I think my mom genuinely enjoys management, but it has taken a long time and a lot of hardship for her to be able to truly enjoy it.

During my mom’s first job interview, in the late ’60s, she was asked two questions:

1. Does your husband know you’re getting a job?

2. Who will take care of your kids while you’re at work?

My mom passed the interview with flying colors, and she became a Cobol programmer. I loved going to the office with my mom, especially when the computer system went down, because everyone at the office wanted to ask my mom a question.

My dad did not love that stuff. So after 14 years of working, my mom got pregnant and quit work in a last-ditch effort to save her marriage.

After the divorce my mom had two small children and an awkward resume. She had managed a very large team at a very large company years earlier, but the only job she could land was as the secretary for someone who was not qualified to be a secretary, let alone a secretary’s boss. Mom cried a lot. She said no one would call her about jobs because she was 45 years old. By this time I was 21 and could tell her things that she often told me when I was frustrated: Be patient. Once you get an interview, you’ll get the job. And, sometimes you need to send out 100 resumes to get one response.

My mom taught herself C++ at night, after the kids were asleep. She learned Java at another job, where she stole away for long lunches to go to doctor’s appointments with my younger brothers. At still another job, this one at a large credit card company, my mom took the bus to work every day so my brothers could drive the car to school.

All this, and she was still at the bottom of the programming ladder. She reported to a woman who was my age.

If my mom were telling you this story, she’d say this woman was a smart, professional, and a compassionate manager. But every time I tried to imagine reporting to someone 20 years younger than I am, I got sick and sweaty.

Recently my mom got a promotion. Now she manages 11 people at the credit card company, and her new boss made it clear that my mom could move up fast. The first thing my mom did as a manager was use her two weeks of vacation to visit colleges with my brother. The second thing she did was grant a woman permission to work flexible hours so she could be at home with her kid.

It used to be that when I interviewed someone 20 years older than I am, I'd think, “What’s wrong with this guy? Why is he stuck at my level at his age?” But watching my mom navigate her career made me think again: I started hiring people older than I was and while I've only had a few chances to do it, each has worked out well. I realized that I had a bigger problem with the age gap than the people I was hiring. And in all cases, the person I hired had not just a very interesting story but also a lot to teach me, and I felt lucky to have made the hire.

Most of you have not witnessed extreme gender inequality during college, and most of you do not think of yourselves as activists. But I have news for you: The corporate world does not offer equal opportunity, and most of you will need to become activists to create lives which include children and work.

But you probably spent your school years hearing that you can be anything you want and that having kids is not something to worry about now. Both of these ideas are misleading.

Most likely, you cannot be anything you want if you expect to have kids; you cannot be a mom who goes to weekly tap dance lessons or weekly baseball games and a mom who runs a Fortune 500 company or leads the United Nations team to Rwanda. You have to give up one of those dreams because kids are not compatible with the amount of work required to move up through the management ranks. You need to consider this when planning your life.

“Sexism at the top remains strong,” says Barrons Business Daily in an article touting the successes of women in the workplace. Men may always outnumber women at the top because women are not willing to make the “sacrifice of friendships and family life that the jobs normally require,” it states. The New York Times magazine chimed in with a cover article highlighting how more women with business degrees from top schools are leaving the work force to stay home with children.

Here are some facts to consider:

Sixty percent of male managers have kids at home as compared with 40% of women managers. Corporate life was set up so that one person in a couple works and one stays home with the kids. For all the effort men and women have given to changing this system, it remains relatively unchanged for senior executives.

These facts come from a recent study commissioned by Congress, which shows that men and women climb the corporate ladder together, and then women with children begin to lag, earning lower salaries. Meanwhile, childless women managers remain on par with the men.

Those women with children who continue to climb are more likely to get divorced than the men with kids who continue climbing, says Barrons magazine.

The congressional study tells us that women struggle with career issues that don't affect men. Women, not men, typically must choose between a high-powered career and raising kids. And so far, we have not found an answer. Each woman who gives up something — a career, a kid, time at the office or at home — will tell you the decision was tough. And the jury is out as to what works. The next generation of women will have to try new ways to juggle family and work.

Some schools, bless them, are helping women prepare for future balancing acts. At one top medical school, a panel of surgeons fielded questions from students ready to select a specialty. The discussion turned to a surgeon's notoriously long and unpredictable hours. A student asked the panel members if they would choose surgery again. The four men on the panel each praised their wives at home for supporting them and said they would choose this specialty again. The lone woman on the panel said she would not choose the specialty because surgeons have so little flexibility and she has had to sacrifice family time to succeed.

At this particular school, women choose their specialty with care: Ophthalmology has become popular because it allows for a family life.

Consider these issues when you select your field. If you want a family, find and build a career that is compatible with having a family. If you decide on a family-unfriendly career, find a spouse who will take care of the family (a common solution for women at the top).

Graduation speakers nationwide are touting opportunity, equality, and ambition. I wish I didn't have to be a wet blanket , but someone's gotta do it: Girls, get ready for a corporate world built by men, not women. Think of the workplace as a constant test of your ability to create the life you want. Think of yourself as a trailblazer.

For those of you who cannot shut up about this weekend's Super Bowl, think about your impact on the workplace atmosphere: A study of Harvard Business School graduates found that in 85 percent of the cases — drum roll, please — men initiated sports talk. This is because female population does not care about spectator sports with nearly the fervor of the male population.

Of course, small talk should be easy, inclusive, and non-offensive. The weather comes to mind as a safe topic — unless someone's mother just died in a hurricane. The price of gas is safe — just don't start placing blame. Commenting on the new furniture in the office is a good tactic because it affects everyone.

Sports talk is not like the weather. Those who initiate sports talk at work alienate people who do not follow sports. And when sports-talk gets to the metaphor stage, the whole company is in trouble. When the sales manager says, “We’re using a long-pass strategy,” the sports-ignorant may continue to go after small accounts, and then there is no strategy at all. So those of you who initiate team-building meetings with talk about sports should consider the fact that you might be undermining teamwork by talking about other people’s teams.

I do not differentiate watching soap operas during the week from watching sports on the weekend: both strike me as a vapid escape from ones own reality. But people who want to be in charge are the people most likely to enjoy competing, so it’s natural that the leaders of the workplace talk sports. And it makes sense that if you want to be friendly with the leaders of the workplace, you need to be able to talk sports.

Luckily, you don’t actually need to be capable of playing the sport to understand it. Exhibit A: the beer-bellied couch potatoes who pontificate on football. Exhibit B: me. I play basketball very well and have never played football, and when it comes to analogies, I feel equally competent in both arenas.

Another step I’ve taken to fit in at work is to follow the soap-opera aspect of sports. This is not difficult to do because:

1. It satisfies my need for intrigue, which would otherwise require hours with the National Enquirer.

2. Personal problems (Mike Tyson has a temper) are much easier to remember than personal statistics (Mike Tyson had X knockouts in X number of years).

3. The New York Times Magazine (registration required) does an amazing job of covering sports as if it were drama. (My favorite — a recent article about a grade school aged skateboarder who won sponsorship from Nike. Now I can talk for hours on the perils of corporate sponsorship for athletes.)

The great thing about the drama of sports is that once you read a story, it’s good for more than a few years of workplace chatter (e.g., Venus's stint at fashion school or Michael Jordan’s family life).

If you can’t stand the idea of reading about sports, try this: Go to a gym. Learn a lot about weight training; people love to talk about their workouts at work. You can impress someone with your knowledge of squat techniques to the point where you will get out of having to talk about other sports-related trivia. Because, after all, people who talk about sports at work are just looking for an easy, non-threatening way to connect with people that is not as obvious as talking about the weather.

So okay, sports talk is workplace behavior that is non-inclusive of women, but so are a lot of other things, like, impromptu meetings in the men's room and posters of naked women in cubicles. So battle the latter when you can and capitulate to the sports talk. If you can't figure out how to fake it in a sports talking office, check out the book Talk Sports Like a Pro, by Jean McCormick. If you are one of the sports talk promoters in your office try reading a section of the newspaper that is not sports. It'll give you something else to talk about even when the Super Bowl looms large.

1. Don't be the hardest worker.
No one can work 70-hour weeks forever without losing their mind — or at least their perspective. You need to pace yourself. Besides, at this kind of pace, you may not always the best worker, but you’ll surely look like the most desperate.

2. Hire people you wouldn't want as friends.
Diverse business teams are more successful than homogenous teams. Creating diversity doesn't mean hiring one guy from each fraternity. It means hiring people who scare you, disagree with you and think in totally different ways than you.

3. Don’t fear failure.
Most people who have wild success have wild failure first. Have your failure early and significantly so that you're primed for success.

4. Learn to write direct mail.
A resume is a piece of direct mail. At best, it will get a 10-second scan from a hiring manager trying to decide whether to interview you. Know how to control what happens in those 10 seconds. Hint: You don't want the person to spend that time reading “References available upon request.”

5. Bake cookies for your team.
Surprise people with your caring and kindness. They will view you — and your mistakes — much more generously. Also, showing your soft side at the office is risky. Cookies are softness without the risk that you're revealing too much.

6. Give the brand of you a rest.
You cannot get to the top alone, so stop looking at yourself like you're a one-man show. Education is the No. 1 factor in determining who will be successful. The caliber of your stable of mentors is the No. 2 factor. So start looking outside yourself. You need help.

7. Blend in.
Do not stand out for how your dress. Stand out for your intelligence and creativity. If you dress in a way that makes people look at your clothes, then you say “look at me for my clothes”. If you dress in a way where no one notices what you are wearing then you force people to look at you for your brains. Remember, though, that boring, frumpy fashion stands out as much as flashy, funky fashion.

8. Toss the business books: Read fiction.
Your career is as dependent on your people skills as it is on your professional skills, so read books and magazines that help you to understand people. Read novels your co-workers recommend, and you'll have reliable repartee for weeks. Besides, most non-fiction tells you about peoples' mistakes, but fiction describes what’s achievable.

9. Say no frequently.
Be choosy about how you spend your time so that each project you work on becomes a great bulleted item on your resume. Don't work on projects that don't matter, will get killed or are clearly mismanaged. When your boss asks you to do something you don't have time for, remind her of her priorities and say you want to work on what’s most important to her. This is a professional way of saying no to unimportant assignments.

10. Ignore the urgent stuff.
Most urgent items on your to-do list are not big-picture items. But it’s the big-picture tasks that will make a significant difference in your career. So block off time each day to work solely on big-picture aspects of your to-do list. You don't have to be a visionary at work. But if you aren’t a visionary for your life, who will be?

For all of you who are plotting to ditch your company's holiday party, forget it: You have to go. And for all of you who are really excited about the holiday party, you can also forget it: The open bar is off-limits to you.

Before I launch into a diatribe against people who ditch company parties, let me just say that I am not a fan of the company holiday party. For one thing, not everyone has a December holiday in his or her life, so the concept is culturally alienating. For another thing, in most cases, holiday party means Christmas party with a token menorah hanging from the rafters: More cultural alienation. But my biggest complaint is that company parties are almost never on company time; they are unpaid overtime for employees.

That said, when I have attended “holiday” parties at which the only holiday is Christmas, I have pretended to have a good time. And you will have to do this, too, because the people who are promoted in corporate America are the people who fit in. Console yourself with the idea that if you are successful in corporate life, you can run your own company and abolish all holiday shenanigans from your offices.

People who blow off company parties look like snobs. Everyone has something better to do that night. But the people who actually DO something better are dissing the people who show up. You will get more done at the office if people like you, and attending one or two office parties is a small price to pay for co-workers who do favors for you when your projects are behind schedule. Luckily, you do not need to be the first there and the last to leave. Show up, make sure people who know you see that you're there. And slip out as soon as you can without being rude.

Some times you have to attend client’s holiday parties. The number one thing to remember when participating in holiday parties — either at a client’s or your own office — is that it is a chance to enhance your image. So since you don't wear short skirts to client meetings, don't show up to a client's Christmas party as Santa's hottest elf. Leverage annoying conventions like grab bags to remind people that you are clever and thoughtful. Buy a good gift but follow the rules: Paying $15 for a $10 grab-bag gift is cheating and dishonest, and stupid gag gifts are just that – stupid.

And even though everyone knows not to get rip-roaring drunk at an office party, people do it all the time. Remember in junior high school when the drug awareness counselor told you to be ready to “just say no?” with a prepared speech when friends tried to push you wayward? You probably didn't use the speech then, but you can use it now. No matter how boring and intolerable the party is, the open bar is not your last opportunity in this lifetime for free mixed drinks. Surely you have a friend who is getting married or getting dumped. Save the ten Cosmopolitans for that event. The only way to manage your image effectively is to do it sober.

You should also buy your boss a gift. Not because she is starving or has a hankering for a fruit basket, but because a gift is an excuse to write a card. Take the time to thank your boss for what she's doing to help you. Be genuine and specific so you won’t seem like a brown nose. Maybe your boss has actually done very little for you, but I would bet money he thinks he's been very helpful. So you can thank him for trying, even if he has failed. After all, isn’t being generous and understanding what the holidays are for?

Tucked into the back of last week's sports pages was news that the Bush administration will refrain from killing Title IX. Other administrations have hailed Title IX as a boon to gender equality in the United States. But for the Bush administration, it was a close call, and this should scare everyone.

Title IX mandates that schools that receive federal funding provide an equal number of sports opportunities for men and women. This law is responsible for a huge increase in women who play sports, and women who play sports are better able to succeed in the workplace than women who don't.

In 1973, when Title IX came into being, few girls or women played organized sports. Today 96% of women who have children say they would offer a daughter either more or the same encouragement to play sports as they would offer a son. According to Jane Gottesman, editor of Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like, “The stigma attached to girls’ participation in sports is gone. Helped along by Title IX, there is a clear understanding that the benefits of athletic participation accrue equally to men and women.”

According to Sports File, “Women executives who participated in organized sports after grade school were less likely to feel like sports alienated women in the workplace.” These women said sports helped them to be more disciplined, function better as part of a team, and develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success. Sports also helped women deal with failure.

So why was the usefulness of Title IX challenged? In order to comply with the law, universities have had to cut male teams in order to keep parity between men's and women's teams. The opponents of the law are organized, vocal, angry and almost all male. They complained that the tactics of compliance are unfair because they didn't want their teams cut. (Wrestling coaches, for example, were prominent complainers because so many lost their jobs; wrestling teams are usually one of the first to get cut from the budget since there is no female counterpart.)

The truth, though, is that the reason there is no room for these small men's teams is not that women are taking up their space, it's that university football teams destroy athletic programs. The football teams in Division I frequently carry more than 100 players (more than some professional teams). There is no women's Divison I football, so women reach parity with gymnastics, cross country, fencing — literally hundreds of sports opportunities. Men suffer because all the sports slots for them are taken up by football. Cut that football program and you could save the wrestling team, the gymnastics team and even start a men's badminton team.

But instead of going after football teams, jilted men went after Title IX. Their idea for solving the male sports problem was to trash the provision to protect women's teams. Opponents of Title IX said that women were gaining unfair advantages, which is especially ironic since women make up more than 50% of university students yet even Title IX mandates only 50% of the organized sports opportunities.

Pay attention to Title IX: Intense lobbying from women's organizations thwarted the recent assault on the law, but we should all recognize that on the whole, men are in favor of promoting equality for women until men start to suffer.

Of course, men won't have to worry for a while, because Catalyst reports that a scant 11.9 percent of corporate officers at America's leading companies are women. So men can afford to encourage equality in the workplace. If Title IX is any indicator, as soon as women start approaching equality in the workplace, men will realize that their favored position is at risk, and they will attack the corporate controls that helped women get to parity.

Meanwhile, take Title IX seriously. Sports make a difference in women's lives. If you are in college, join a team immediately — it will help you in your career much more than that accounting class will. If you have a daughter, encourage her to play sports. She doesn't have to play soccer: archery counts, figure skating counts. Every little girl can find a sport if someone is committed to helping her.

Some of you working women think you have no time for sports. Think of athletics like you'd think of career development programs: Imperative to keeping your career in the fast lane. Of the top female executives who played sports, a majority said it gave them a competitive edge at the workplace. Given the current percentages of women in senior management, it's clear that you need that edge.

For better or worse, we live in a society that bestows benefits on those with athletic experience. Celebrate the rescue of Title IX by getting more women into sports: It is never too early or too late.

Most of us have personal problems we hide from our business associates. In fact, most of us have been hiding problems since we were kids. Often, though, these guarded secrets provide a hidden stash of strength at the workplace.

My problems started at tap dance lessons. As an eight-year-old, I didn't know what to do when the teacher said, “Turn left,” but I pretended to know what I was doing. The teacher said to my mom, “Penelope's always a beat behind.”

In high school, I was in advanced English, advanced history, and advanced French. I waited until no one was looking to slip into my remedial math class. My teacher told me, “When you grow up, don't go into business.”

In college, I took a car trip from Chicago to Detroit and went up the wrong side of Lake Michigan. It's a big lake. And Michigan's a big state. So I shocked even myself when I missed the state completely and ended up in Wisconsin. It was around that time that I realized I was dyslexic.

Once I understood my problem, I was able to keep track of recurring problem situations and find ways to avoid them: For example, I became an ace with Excel so I didn't have to do math in my head. And I quit tap dance and took up swing dancing because the lack of structure in swing means that turning the wrong direction looks creative, not brain-dead.

Contrary to many predictions, I flourished in corporate America. Today I don't worry that the dyslexia will hold me back professionally. Now the dyslexia is just sort of interesting to me. I like watching how my brain works, and I like having a better understanding of why I did what I did when I was younger.

But I hide the dyslexia when it comes up at work. It's easy: Frequently someone says, “The bathroom is at the end of the hall on the right,” and then the person sees me turn left. The person doesn't say, “What the hell is wrong with you?” The person just says, “No, turn right.” And I know what to do. It never occurs to anyone that an adult doesn't know her left and right. So dyslexia is a secret I can keep.

In the perfect world, we would all list our secret disabilities on our resumes. These are the pieces of our lives that make us able to overcome adversity at work. Mental illness, physical limitations, family disasters, these are also secrets people keep from co-workers. Of course, if you bring this stuff up in interviews the hiring manager will think you are insanely needy (or just insane) and you won't get the job.

But keep an active stock of your secret difficulties, because these are what make you strong. In the face of these secrets, a screaming client, incompetent boss, or plummeting stock price all seem manageable.

Admittedly, dyslexia is not as earth shattering a secret as it could be; today dyslexia is fashionable among businesspeople and was the cover story of a recent issue of Fortune magazine. Heck, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is dyslexic. Everyone should be so lucky to have a brain so similar to his.

But as CEO secrets start to slip out, take a look at your own secrets. Recognize them for what they are: Huge difficulties that you have overcome to get where you are. And maybe, one day, we will add them to our resumes — in the education section.

My husband and I didn’t argue about my son’s first name. We argued about the last name. At first, I didn’t have a strong opinion, so we gave my son my husband’s name: Rodriguez.

But then I got cold feet. I worried that our son would face discrimination for his name. My husband said, “Don't worry, I get it all the time. He'll get used to it.”

I was surprised to hear that my husband experiences discrimination. Part of seeing someone as a minority is seeing him as other. So, because he's my husband, I don't think of him as a minority. But here's an example he gave me: He works with a think tank that researches solutions to homelessness. Sometimes when he meets with leaders of homeless shelters, the leaders mistake my husband for one of the homeless. This never happens to his counterpart: Jay Alexander .

But my husband kept telling me it doesn't matter. He said that to me once a week for nine months until I believed him.

What did I know? I have never had a name that identifies me as a minority, so I don't know what it's like. My great-grandfather changed the family name so that it would not sound Jewish and his sons could get through Harvard's quota system. (The change worked, they got in.) In the family tradition of changing one's name for one's politics, I changed my last name when I was in my early twenties because I didn't want to be part of a patriarchal naming structure. (In this case, I'm not sure if the change did anything.)

My husband always says, “It's no big deal.” But now I am sure that it is a big deal.

A recent study from the University of Chicago and MIT shows that people who have names that are typically from minorities are much less likely to get a job. In this study, hundreds of fake resumes with very similar qualifications were sent in response to entry-level job advertisements. A resume from a name like Amy Alexander was fifty percent more likely to get an interview than a resume from a name like Latoya Washington.

This shouldn't surprise me — of course people like to hire people who are like them. And minorities are not running the show in corporate America. In fact, I am guilty, also. Even though I know that diversity enhances workplace success, I also know that managing someone like myself is a lot easier than managing someone who's not like me; it's so much easier to lead people who are already thinking in the same way that I am.

So I can talk until I'm blue in the face about diversity, but I have to admit that I have preconceptions about someone with the last name of Rodriguez and someone whose last name is Alexander. I don't want to have preconceptions, but we can't always control those things. So I thought of changing my son's last name, but then I thought, that's a cop out.

I want to believe that we can control how we approach resumes so that we mitigate our preconceptions by reading resumes without reading names. Each of us is more likely to interview more minorities if we do not read names. It's a simple process that will teach each of us something about our prejudices and ourselves.

While studies show that managing diversity improves one's career, people still resist hiring diverse teams. This means the issue of diversity is no longer convincing people it's good for the office, the issue is convincing individual people that they are part of the problem. And each of us is. So give name-blind resumes a try. See what happens. And who knows? Maybe one day, that resume you might have skipped will be my son's.

The twenty-something set mistakenly believes that men and women are equals at work; meanwhile, the wage gap between men and women continues to increase. The wage gap doesn't affect women until they have a kid — when they are way too busy juggling work and family to shout out to the world about the wage gap. But there is hope: April 24 is Take Our Children to Work Day, an event that aims to draw attention to the fact that the corporate world stifles the careers of people who take care of kids — mostly women.

The event used to be Take our Daughters to Work, but at this point, the problem is not getting women into the management track, it is getting them to stay there.

Last year the United States General Accounting Office released the Women in Management Study which found that women and men have roughly equal levels of education and equal numbers in the work force. But industry by industry, evidence of the wage gap persists. For example, a full-time female communications manager earned 86 cents for every dollar a male made in her industry in 1995. In 2000, she made only 73 cents on the man’s dollar.

A little digging into the study shows that the pay gap was widest among parents, and that in management positions women have a harder time than men doing the career-family balancing act. Across all industries, 60 percent of male managers have children in the home compared to only 40 percent of women managers.

So what's the best way to reach the ranks of senior management? Don't have kids. Women in management make less than men because women find it much harder than men to continue the long, hard hours that management demands once they have kids at home.

Are you one of the women who think this problem will not affect you? Are you thinking you will be able to balance kids and climb the ladder? Then you'll need a stay-at-home-dad to raise your kids. A recent issue of Fortune magazine ran a cover article about how most moms who are high in the ranks of corporate America have a husband at home taking care of the kids. Good luck finding a guy to do that. The men featured in the article were so humiliated at their position that most refused to be interviewed.

One of the biggest barriers to change is that women don't perceive that there's a problem until they have a high-powered job, two screaming kids, and a husband who says, “I support equality; Let's hire a nanny so we can both work.” At this point, the woman is overwhelmed by the demands on her life, and less likely than the man to be satisfied with the nanny solution. These women have little energy to advocate for change in the workplace — in fact, they usually cut back or drop out (hence the wage gap).

So take a kid to work on April 24. Even if you don't have a kid, borrow a kid. These kids will run in and out of cubicles, scribble on white boards, raid the office fridge, and generally have a great time. Hopefully, they will also disrupt everyone's day, annoy the workaholics, and remind people that the corporate ladder does not accommodate people who take care of children.

The first step toward change is to engage in serious discussion. This is not happening now, but it might start happening if change leaders identify themselves on April 24 by bringing a kid to work. These are the people who will help the next generation of parents close the wage gap; these are the people who will scheme with you to reform the workplace. Take notice of the other people who show up with kids. Band together and start your own workplace revolution.

I get a lot of email from people who are 50 years old and older and never expected to be unemployed at this stage in their career. Many of these people are annoyed that they are not appreciated for how much they know. Others are bitter, angry or indignant. Often times, these complaints come down to one thing: age discrimination.

Hiring managers know they shouldn’t discriminate based on age, but they do it anyway. Even when the victim has proof, usually a lawsuit is not as appealing as just getting a job. Ridding the world of injustice is a luxury for those who do not have trouble paying their grocery bills — now or during retirement.

I have not experienced age discrimination, but with sex discrimination I have found that bitterness and anger only hurt me. I am certain I have missed opportunities because I am a woman. But in my early twenties, when I was bitter and angry about sex discrimination, I was bitter and angry wherever I went. And my unpleasant personality hurt me way more than any lost opportunities.

Most hiring managers do not discriminate against women, or older people, but all hiring managers discriminate against people who are angry and bitter. And they should, because angry, bitter people are difficult to work with. So if you want to get a job, you need to stop being angry about the fact that people discriminate against you.

It’s very hard to hide anger and bitterness – they poke out of any little opening they can find. The fastest way to get rid of them: Convince yourself that most people are basically good, and when you encounter an asshole, assume he's an aberration and move on.

I have spoken with recruiters about age discrimination, and recruiters say that age is not an issue if the candidate does not make it an issue; enthusiastic, curious, and ambitious candidates are gems no matter what the age. But some candidates don't want to work for someone younger than they are. Some candidates can't hear constructive criticism because they assume it’s ageism. These people are doomed in the job market because they come off looking bitter. Before you cite ageism, ask yourself who, really, is making the big deal about your age.

My mom is a great example of someone who has overcome the age barrier. She is almost 60 but re-entered the job market at 50. She has received many promotions and she loves her job. I am convinced that her success is due, in part, to the fact that she is never angry about being old, and she is never bitter about reporting to someone twenty years younger than she is.

While my mom is just one person, she is a good example. She has a lot more experience in life than the people she works with, and she could lord that over people in a you-can-learn-from-me way. But instead she focuses on things that are new to her — what she can learn, what she can accomplish. In that way, she conveys the bright-eyed excitement that is essential in an enthusiastic employee.

So if you want to beat discrimination, try to ignore it. I am not suggesting that ageism is okay. It's not. But it exists, and you need to figure out how to get a job in the real world. So accept where you are in life and embrace that. If you are pleased with who you are then you will have a much easier time convincing a hiring manager that she will be pleased with you.

For all of you who are disgusted by the rampant discrimination that really does exist, I have found that the best way to change workplace culture is to infiltrate. You can't change workplace culture by whining from the outside, but you can change it once you are part of it. I have always used my positions in management to hire a diverse staff. You can promote diversity, too. Once you get a job.