Back in 2014, I led a national survey on menopause-at-work trends, asking women to share their experiences with navigating symptoms while trying to get through their pre-pandemic days in the office.
Nearly half the women we surveyed (48 percent) said managing their symptoms while at work was extremely or somewhat difficult — but in a glass half full moment, more than half also told us their colleagues were supportive of them as they dealt with symptoms on the job.
Great news, right?
And yet, when the time came to go public with the results, my project partner steadfastly refused to join me in interviews to talk about the topic publicly. Maybe she didn’t want to be seen as older? As weaker? As something that embarrassed her? I didn’t press.
Instead, I pushed forward, happy to talk about a topic that nearly 60 percent of women (ages 45 to 65) said they were comfortable talking about as well.
I still am.
Let’s get real: women of menopausal age comprise about 20 percent (27 million) of today’s U.S. workforce. At work, we’re leaders, role models, the people who get the job done — and our numbers continue to rise. To refuse to speak openly of a life stage that will impact all of lucky enough to reach this age doesn’t help us feel better — nor does it help us find treatments to help with symptoms.
Since menopause generally lasts between seven and 14 years, millions of postmenopausal women are coming into management and top leadership roles while experiencing mild to severe symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment, to name a few.
— It’s Time to Start Talking About Menopause at Work, Harvard Business Review
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
In the end, women surveyed by the Working Mother Research Institute said it’s the little things that mean the most when navigating menopause at work — temperature control, flexible dress codes, flexible scheduling — and allow them to remain productive.
That and the belief that this too will pass.
For a Pause
Cool it. Can’t control the office temps? At least you can cool your desk. For our home office this summer, we’re trying this personal air cooler from Evapolar and so far, it’s held it’s own during 90° days.
Breathe deep. Can’t get away? Take the world’s shortest vacation with Headspace, which offers a selection of free meditations to get you started (and to entice you to upgrade down the line). Find a quiet spot and go.
Make it official. In the U.K., members of parliament are pushing for better workplace policies to protect women going through menopause. “You wouldn’t dream of having a workplace where people weren’t entitled to certain things because they were pregnant, and it’s exactly the same for women with the menopause,” says Labour MP Carolyn Harris. (Go deeper with Sheryl’s take on such policies here.)
Get loose. Natural fibers and layers you can add or subtract are your friend when it comes to dressing for work during this stage. Need more concrete ideas? Try this rundown from 40+ Style.
One More Thing…
One of my favorite authors (and fellow Clevelander) Connie Shultz on working, writing and living out loud as a grown woman.
Until next week, stay well, stay healthy, stay safe.
See you next time!
Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
—Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful
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