Menopause and the Workplace

‘It’s OK to talk about... Menopause at Work’

Menopause is a normal part of the life cycle for many women in the workplace.

There is growing awareness and recognition of the benefits of enabling an open and supportive discussion of adjustments to accommodate the impacts of the menopause at work.

Our working lives are long and likely to lengthen. Women are 60% of the University workforce and 52% are over 45. It makes sense for us to be proactive to enhance good practice to reduce the challenges and difficulties of navigating this life stage. Menopause may also be triggered at different ages for individuals by other health issues and events. We seek to adopt an inclusive approach recognising that some trans men and gender non-conforming people will also go through menopause.

We want colleagues to be comfortable to be themselves at work, and remove barriers affecting confidence, performance and wellbeing, particularly where these relate to gender or other aspects of diverse identities.

Many employers within and beyond the higher education sector are taking positive steps to support menopause transition. Not all women experience negative effects, but where these occur they can be debilitating and difficult to cope with, especially if it feels hard to talk about simple practical solutions.

“Menopause is generally poorly understood, due in large part to gendered ageism in UK society and elsewhere (Jack et al., 2014). Women often don’t realise they are in menopause transition, and may worry that something much more sinister is afoot. There is also evidence that GPs are not necessarily very knowledgeable about this inevitable stage in women’s reproductive lives either. Menopause, likewise, is something of a taboo in organisations, where employees are usually expected to conform to the masculine stereotype of the always available, always high performing, disembodied ideal worker.”

Advance HE: Menopause Awareness and Higher Education - Guidance (2019)

Menopause at Work Resources

The Faculty of Health and Life Sciences has identified support for Menopause at Work as a development theme for their Athena Swan gender equality work.

The HLS Athena Swan Menopause Group has launched a Menopause at Work Resource site and developed Menopause in the Workplace Good Practice Guidance to support colleagues and managers.

Videos from Skill Boosters

Here are some useful videos from Skill Boosters featuring women discussing their lived experience of managing the effects of menopause symptoms at work (access for Brookes staff only).

How has the menopause affected you at work?

A group of women share the physical and emotional changes they have gone through and how that impacts on their work.

How did your own menopause journey begin?

A group of women share their personal experiences of beginning to go through the menopause.

How has the menopause affected your personal life?

The menopause does not only affect woman physically and can have a big impact on your personal life.

What has helped you to deal with the symptoms of the menopause?

This video looks at the different ways women can deal and manage the symptoms of the menopause.

What advice would you give someone who is embarking on their menopause journey?

In this clip the women offer up advice to someone who is just starting on their menopause journey.

What can employers do to support staff who are going through the menopause?

This video shows the importance of having an open environment to talk about the menopause at work and how to do that.