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Tackling the taboo: talking menopause-related problems at work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Claire Hardy, Amanda Griffiths, Eleanor Thorne, Myra Hunter

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Workplace Health Management
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019

King's Authors

Abstract

Purpose: Women are typically reluctant to disclose menopause-related problems that may affect their working lives to line managers. Consequently, support may not be offered nor potential solutions explored. The purpose of this paper is to examine how working menopausal women would prefer to have conversations about the menopause at work. Design/methodology/approach: Using semi-structured telephone interviews working menopausal women (aged 45–60 years) were asked about their experiencing of talking about their menopause at work, and how helpful conversations might be initiated and conducted. Transcripts were analyzed thematically to identify factors that may facilitate or hinder such conversations. Findings: Two themes emerged: first, organizational context. Facilitators included an open culture with friendly relationships, a knowledgeable and proactive manager, organization-wide awareness of the menopause and aging, and access to a nominated woman to discuss problems. Barriers included male-dominated workplaces, male line managers, fear of negative responses, stigma, discrimination, embarrassment or believing menopause is inappropriate to discuss at work; second, the nature of the discussion. Facilitators included managers demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of a woman’s experience, jointly seeking acceptable solutions, respecting privacy and confidentiality, and appropriate use of humor, as opposed to being dismissive and using inappropriate body language. Discussions with suitable persons at work were preferred and being prepared was advised. The women in the sample advised having discussions with appropriate persons and being prepared. Practical implications: These findings could inform training programs, workplace policies and practice. Originality/value: This study provides insights to help women and their managers discuss menopause-related difficulties at work and seek solutions together.

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