'Stop being paralyzed by fear': How women in their 40s, 50s and beyond can ditch workplace insecurity

On Tuesday, Mika Brzezinski announced the release of her new book, "Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success -- at 40, 50, and Beyond," which she co-wrote with Know Your Value contributor Ginny Brzezinski.
Ginny Brzezinski, left, and Mika Brzezinski, right, co-authors of "Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success--At 40, 50, and Beyond."
Ginny Brzezinski, left, and Mika Brzezinski, right, co-authors of "Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success--At 40, 50, and Beyond."Miller Hawkins

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By Halley Bondy

For the first time in a decade, women hold a (slim) majority of the U.S. workforce. Yet, for many — particularly women in their 50s and older — still grapple with a lack of confidence that holds them back.

On Tuesday’s “Morning Joe,” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough discussed the hurdles these women face — and the huge potential in front of them. The conversation coincided the release of Brzeiznski’s new book, “Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent your Success — At 40, 50, and Beyond,” which was co-written with her sister-in-law, Ginny Brzezinski.

“There is a path there, but for many women it’s a scary one. They feel judged, they feel too old,” Brzezinski said. “The opportunity is certainly there.”

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In fact, in December, women held 50.04 percent of U.S. jobs, according to the Labor Department. The historic shift, which amounts to 109,000 more women on the payroll than men, is due to increasing opportunities in female-driven sectors, including health and education.

In writing the book, Brzezinski said she found that many women take breaks in their careers, and when they return in their 40s and 50s, they find a frightening new landscape.

“There are a lot of women who make tough choices early on and decide to stay at home with the kids, or sidetrack to a different career - it’s harder to come back,” said Scarborough. “The main wall is their own insecurity. This new economy that we have allows so many women and men if they’re primary caretakers of children, of an elderly parent to do work at home or anywhere.”

About 38 percent of women over 40 experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, according to a study by Hiscox, while 70 percent of women of all ages believe that ageism in the workplace is a serious issue. Yet, women over 50 have so much to offer, Brzezinski said.

“Nancy Pelosi is impeaching a president at 79,” said Brzezinski. Former Sen. “Claire McCaskill is starting a new career right here at NBC at 65. Ellen Latham started Orangetheory, she had a terrible time and then all of a sudden reinvented herself at 54.”

Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Monday night.Scott Kowalchyk

On Monday night, Brzezinski and Scarborough also appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to offer tips to women facing confidence issues in the workplace.

“Stop putting walls up. Stop being paralyzed by fear,” Brzezinski said on the show. “Women really feel judged in this space for their age or for the choices that they have made. So that's why I wrote the book.”