Menopause. There, I said it. Men never talk about menopause and it seems that neither do women. But it does exist and it is having an impact on careers and potential.
Over the past year I have been hearing from a lot of women about the impact of menopause. For a 21 year old gay man, it’s not something I have much experience with but it is something I’m happy to talk about.
With more women in the workforce, we need to broaden discussions about menopause beyond closed doors.
Not all women juggle working and motherhood or caring responsibilities for the entirety of their career. We talk so much about parenting issues facing women at work, but 64% of women working have no children aged under 18.
Yet every woman endures menopause. It is one of the most dramatic changes to the human body that happens to women, along with puberty and childbirth, and yet there is currently no space for women to talk about menopause at work and all that goes with it.
I have heard struggles from women across the professions who have taken early retirement, redundancy, demotions and/or stagnated their careers due to the impact of menopause. It is yet another hurdle women have to face in progressing their career, and can hit at the time they’re reaching leadership heights. The pressure to perform and keep it all together can be too much during this change, especially if women feel forced to hide what they’re going through.
Menopause forces women to re-evaluate what they can manage and the support they need. It catches women off-guard. For most women it strikes when they are somewhere between middle and senior management. I know them as the action-women within teams and I don’t want to see them leaving the workplace due to the lack of support or space for discussion regarding menopause.
We need to show managers and leaders that the issues facing women are complex and subtle. Gender equality takes many approaches. Adding menopause to the list of issues discussed and addressed at work helps all women.
Let’s have a discussion about how menopause affects women at work and use it to come up with some solutions to help.
We want to see more women rise into leadership and manage the rest of their lives. I hope all employees open up and chat about menopause, it’s not something to sweep under the rug.
Demystifying womanhood and ageing is important. We need to support all women in the workforce, no matter what their career and life stage.