Why is talking about menopause at work still taboo?


Women might talk with each other about menopause, but an AHRI survey found that only 3 per cent would ever mention menopause at work. What gives?

I recently heard that during a meeting at a women’s magazine, editors discussed writing about taboo topics for women. Someone suggested menopause, but that idea was shot down when a colleague piped up and said menopause wasn’t a taboo anymore, because menopause was now openly discussed. The idea was dropped.

I don’t know what they did decide was a taboo topic – varicose veins perhaps, or facial hair – but to decide that everyone is good with menopause is optimistic at best.

Women talk with each other about their hot flashes, night sweats or a little public fanning now and then. There might be ads for menopausal women in the media, where serene and smiling women take their herbal treatments or go to menopause clinics and carry on pole dancing.

And, sure, many women have told their partners they are going through menopause and their partners know to cut them some slack and open a bottle of Pinot Grigio when things get rough.

More and more women are learning with relief that menopause simply comes with being a woman, and that it applies to all women in different ways and to different degrees. But mainly IT ISN’T JUST YOU. And your symptoms can be treated and your outcome can be managed and controlled by you.

These are certainly dainty steps in the right direction but, frustratingly, menopause at work is still an almost totally taboo topic.

There are not enough studies of menopause and the workplace. I think AHRI did their own straw poll and found only 3 per cent of women would even mention menopause at work.

Another study from La Trobe, Monash and Yale University might suggest why the remaining 97 per cent of women wouldn’t. This study found that the vast majority of women don’t mention menopause at work for fear of aged-based discrimination – aka looking old, seeming old, and hence being side-lined for leadership positions.

For men this is often a qualification for leadership positions. And yes, this discrimination is often made by younger women. The point is that the stigma of menopause can be causing problems at work, not the menopause itself.

This also means that added to menopause is anxiety caused by covering up the symptoms, not being able to talk about it, not being able to ask for a desk fan or for the temperature in the office to be wound down a degree, or could someone just open the fricking window for a minute.

Menopause can be treated, contained and accepted. It is the attitude of others that needs work.

What’s happening in your workplace?

Jean Kittson will be featured on a panel discussing workplace wellbeing at AHRI’s National Convention 3-5 August 2016 in Brisbane. Registration closes 22 July. To check event details and register, click here

Jean Kittson is author of the book You’re Still Hot To Me. The Joys of Menopause, which Dr Penny Adams (GP, author and women’s health advocate) has described as “… at last I have the definitive book on menopause to recommend to my patients.”

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Heather Watson
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Heather Watson

I am so happy the issue of menopause is starting to get some traction over the last couple of years and I note with interest that it appears to be mainly via AHRI. Wish that stigma could be lifted as what a lot of people might not realise is that menopause can happen early in a woman’s life depending on some health issues or it can start early and be something you have to live with for life.

Jean Kittson
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Jean Kittson

Very important point Heather. So many women are still afraid and ashamed of menopause. They are afraid it ages them, that they are past their use-by date, that they will become invisible, that they will lose their jobs or be sidelined for leadership positions. Menopause is not about growing older it’s about growing up. And what we may lose in skin texture we gain in wisdom and experience and empathy and sympathy and understanding and heightened rat cunning. And as you say, if you want any better reason not to carbon date yourself by your hormones, please consider the thousands… Read more »

Sparky
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Sparky

The idol of Bhagwan Samb Sadashiv Sh. 1008 Haidakhan Wale Babaji shown in the picture is most amazing and one of the most buitiful idols which at the first site itself gives you abollutesy different & devine feelings and touches the very core of your heart.

More on HRM

Why is talking about menopause at work still taboo?


Women might talk with each other about menopause, but an AHRI survey found that only 3 per cent would ever mention menopause at work. What gives?

I recently heard that during a meeting at a women’s magazine, editors discussed writing about taboo topics for women. Someone suggested menopause, but that idea was shot down when a colleague piped up and said menopause wasn’t a taboo anymore, because menopause was now openly discussed. The idea was dropped.

I don’t know what they did decide was a taboo topic – varicose veins perhaps, or facial hair – but to decide that everyone is good with menopause is optimistic at best.

Women talk with each other about their hot flashes, night sweats or a little public fanning now and then. There might be ads for menopausal women in the media, where serene and smiling women take their herbal treatments or go to menopause clinics and carry on pole dancing.

And, sure, many women have told their partners they are going through menopause and their partners know to cut them some slack and open a bottle of Pinot Grigio when things get rough.

More and more women are learning with relief that menopause simply comes with being a woman, and that it applies to all women in different ways and to different degrees. But mainly IT ISN’T JUST YOU. And your symptoms can be treated and your outcome can be managed and controlled by you.

These are certainly dainty steps in the right direction but, frustratingly, menopause at work is still an almost totally taboo topic.

There are not enough studies of menopause and the workplace. I think AHRI did their own straw poll and found only 3 per cent of women would even mention menopause at work.

Another study from La Trobe, Monash and Yale University might suggest why the remaining 97 per cent of women wouldn’t. This study found that the vast majority of women don’t mention menopause at work for fear of aged-based discrimination – aka looking old, seeming old, and hence being side-lined for leadership positions.

For men this is often a qualification for leadership positions. And yes, this discrimination is often made by younger women. The point is that the stigma of menopause can be causing problems at work, not the menopause itself.

This also means that added to menopause is anxiety caused by covering up the symptoms, not being able to talk about it, not being able to ask for a desk fan or for the temperature in the office to be wound down a degree, or could someone just open the fricking window for a minute.

Menopause can be treated, contained and accepted. It is the attitude of others that needs work.

What’s happening in your workplace?

Jean Kittson will be featured on a panel discussing workplace wellbeing at AHRI’s National Convention 3-5 August 2016 in Brisbane. Registration closes 22 July. To check event details and register, click here

Jean Kittson is author of the book You’re Still Hot To Me. The Joys of Menopause, which Dr Penny Adams (GP, author and women’s health advocate) has described as “… at last I have the definitive book on menopause to recommend to my patients.”

3
Leave a reply

avatar
100000
  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
Heather Watson
Guest
Heather Watson

I am so happy the issue of menopause is starting to get some traction over the last couple of years and I note with interest that it appears to be mainly via AHRI. Wish that stigma could be lifted as what a lot of people might not realise is that menopause can happen early in a woman’s life depending on some health issues or it can start early and be something you have to live with for life.

Jean Kittson
Guest
Jean Kittson

Very important point Heather. So many women are still afraid and ashamed of menopause. They are afraid it ages them, that they are past their use-by date, that they will become invisible, that they will lose their jobs or be sidelined for leadership positions. Menopause is not about growing older it’s about growing up. And what we may lose in skin texture we gain in wisdom and experience and empathy and sympathy and understanding and heightened rat cunning. And as you say, if you want any better reason not to carbon date yourself by your hormones, please consider the thousands… Read more »

Sparky
Guest
Sparky

The idol of Bhagwan Samb Sadashiv Sh. 1008 Haidakhan Wale Babaji shown in the picture is most amazing and one of the most buitiful idols which at the first site itself gives you abollutesy different & devine feelings and touches the very core of your heart.

More on HRM