A study from Macquarie University seeks to alter the perception of menopause in the workplace

Menopause has traditionally been a taboo topic. We want to start that conversation.

New study hopes to influence legislation that will alter how the workplace appreciates older women as World Menopause Day draws near.

Researchers of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences’ prof Kerry Sherman and the Macquarie Business School’s Health & Wellbeing Research Unit have collaborated on this work under the direction of Professor Rebecca Mitchell.

Break the silence: a group of academics from Griffith and Macquarie Universities wants to initiate a discussion. Discussion on how businesses may help women who are going through menopause succeed in their careers.

Project will investigate the relationship between menopause and women’s careers. Using a positive psychology perspective in cooperation with a group of researchers from Griffith University’s Work, Organization, and Wellbeing Centre.

Women, according to Professor Mitchell, are largely responsible for managing the menopause. The research on how women advance during this era as leaders has significant gaps.

Mitchell, a specialist in conducting research that informs policy and leadership practise, claims that “nothing [in the literature] about how women can become more productive. Also how they can change careers, be adaptable, and transition into new ways of working; there is nothing about that at all.”

Nobody wants to discuss it. that’s made worse by the fact that nobody knows what to say because there isn’t enough research to provide.

Studies have looked at what can be done, but the remedies are frequently generic: time off, education, training, etc.

Changing the narrative

Menopause symptoms like anxiety, memory loss, and brain fog can be disastrous to jobs, but that’s just half the story. According to Mitchell, we should be asking, “Are there ways we can maybe enable you to develop your professional path or to take advantage of some of the good changes that can come with menopause,” rather than, “How can we help you with your symptoms?”

Mitchell and her coworkers want to change the persistently unfavourable perception of menopause.

“Menopause has long been subject nobody talks about. We want to open that dialogue.”

“Our aim is to map the gaps, and to that end we’ve issued an international call-out for research in this area. Over the next three years, we anticipate shaping strategies and legislation and workplace policies that will change the way the workplace treats menopausal women.”

says Mitchell,
Mitchell says research suggests that some employers tend to regard menopause as a personal, private issue.

“There is little guidance for HR professionals in supporting women through this stage of their reproductive lives, in contrast to pregnancy and maternity.”

What just happened?

Mitchell contests the notion that menopause characterises older women. She claims that there is little awareness of the fact that 50% of people go through this transformation.
Obstacles: The onset of menopause is likely to happen when many women wish to rise into more senior roles, but a Harvard research revealed that 1 in 4 women thought their symptoms adversely affected their employment possibilities.

“Women shouldn’t be viewed as fundamentally ‘different’ or less important just because this has happened to them, the author writes. Why should we think that way about menopausal women when we don’t think that way about a pregnant woman, a mother, or a father?

“Many women begin to look for a new identity and purpose in their later professions around the time of menopause; this is known as the ‘leader emergence’ period. However, a woman going through menopause may not be able to maintain emotional control given the stereotype of the strong, technically proficient, and authoritative leader”.

Ironically, menopause may be a benefit rather than a difficulty because it has been linked to more agentic behaviours, such as deliberate, active, and aggressive leadership, although this association is obscure because of a lack of research.
The topic of menopause has long been taboo. even worse. According to Mitchell, “the more evident indicators of menopause are utilized to mock and denigrate professional women,” citing a study that claimed women posed a threat to the “spoken or unspoken social order of [an] organization due to their ‘leakiness’, unboundedness, unpredictability, or unreliability.”
Oestrogen and progesterone levels that are in decline cause menopause. At about 51, it makes an appearance. Equally as many women are succeeding in their careers.
According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review study, menopause happens around the time that women are most likely to advance to positions of leadership.
one in four of the women in this group said that menopause symptoms had a negative impact on their possibilities for professional growth. And 17% had either quit a job or had contemplated resigning because of menopause symptoms.

Expertise missing in action

Menopausal women most frequently describe having trouble concentrating, being weary, having trouble remembering things, having less confidence, and feeling down or melancholy at work.
What happened to them? According to Professor Rebecca Mitchell, her team’s research also attempts to comprehend why many women abandon leadership aspirations, transition to part-time work, or get demoted during a life cycle that occurs around menopause.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 study, Antidepressant Use Among Adults: United States, 2015-2018, indicated that women in their perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal ages use antidepressants more frequently than any other demographic.
Women over the age of 60 (24.3%) were most likely to use antidepressants, followed closely by those in the 40 to 59 age range (20.1 per cent).
Institutions run the risk of losing the knowledge of senior women if they don’t provide assistance for personnel throughout this stage of life. Finding methods for that support is crucial for Mitchell and her colleagues.

“Our understanding has significant gaps. There is a lot of shift at this point in your career that is unrelated to menopause. We don’t understand enough the reasons why people give up on their aspirations for leadership, change to part-time jobs, or are demoted. We simply don’t know what influences women’s development, what affects their identity, what gives them confidence, or even what makes them thrive beyond menopause”.

Menopause has traditionally been a taboo topic. We want to start that conversation.
Professor Rebecca Mitchell works at the Macquarie Business School’s Health and Wellbeing Unit in addition to the Department of Management.
This article was shared with Prittle Prattle News as a Press Release.
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