A woman’s menopause – her last period – generally happens at around the age of 51. With more than 4.3 million working women aged 45-60 in the UK, this means a huge number of women are at work through this transition.
Some women experience menopause problem-free. However, 80% of women will experience some symptoms and a third will experience severe symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia and low mood.
Research suggests that it’s in the workplace where women find their symptoms the most difficult. It also shows that women don’t disclose their menopause – or their difficulty working because of it – due to embarrassment, stigma and fear that they might be discriminated against or stigmatised.
However, in recent years, research has explored women’s experiences of menopause and what they would like from their employers. Studies have shown women would like more information and support to help them manage their menopause at work and for there to be better awareness, particularly among line managers.
They’ve also shown that women would like workplaces to have menopause-friendly policies in place such as flexible working and better control over the temperature and ventilation of their work environment.
In her project Dr Claire Hardy, Chartered Occupational Psychologist and Academic Lecturer at Lancaster University, and her team of experts will build on their previous research to develop an online toolkit for organisations. It will provide information, training and resources to help increase awareness, attitudes and confidence around menopause at work.
It will hopefully not only improve organisations’ culture around menopause and women’s health issues, but also improve working women’s experience of menopause.