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Women Going Through Menopause Not Only Suffer Physically, They Are Also Discriminated at Work

Women Going Through Menopause Not Only Suffer Physically, They Are Also Discriminated at Work

So many women have had to quit their jobs just because of the comments made on their performance and their behavior.

Trigger Warning: This story talks about discrimination against menstruators that may be disturbing to readers. 

We all know that menopause comes with a myriad of issues for women, but among the under-discussed problems are the issues that menopausal women face at their workplaces.

Take Mara's story, for instance. 



 

 

According to The Guardian, Mara had had a hysterectomy, to alleviate her endometriosis in 2018. Soon, she began experiencing debilitating brain fog, anxiety, and depression in surgically induced menopause. Despite being put on antidepressants, she was unable to do well at work. 

After relentlessly being pulled up by her supervisors for not doing her best, Mara told them she had depression and anxiety, and submitted a doctor’s note, but they put her on a first warning. Despite proof, they continued to torment her, and by the summer of 2019, Mara couldn’t cope anymore.

It eventually pushed her to contemplate suicide. “It wasn’t that I wanted to die,” she says. “I needed to die. Work wasn’t ever going to stop doing what they were doing to me. And I was so ashamed to be so incompetent at my job.”

She almost did, too. She went to a bridge, and before jumping, she saw that the bridge wasn't too high. She knew she wouldn't die even if she jumped. “I thought,” she says, “if I jump, I will survive. And there was no way I wanted to survive. And that is the only reason I am alive today. Because it wasn’t high enough.”



 

 

This is just one woman's story of being discriminated against at work, because people aren't aware of the physical and mental impacts people in menopause go through. 

“It’s really difficult to collect data on how many women may be leaving the workplace due to the menopause,” says Dr. Vanessa Beck, an expert in work and organization at the University of Bristol, “because it’s not something people tend to talk about in exit interviews.” Even if women were asked about menopause when leaving companies, Beck isn’t sure it would help. “I’m not convinced that women would disclose,” she says. “There’s a lot of shame.”

In fact, there is some data to back how helpless women feel at their organizations. A 2019 survey from Bupa and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 59% of working women experiencing menopause between the age of 45 to 55 reported that it had a negative impact on them at work, with the most common issues being a reduced ability to concentrate, along with feeling more stressed and not having enough patience to deal with clients and colleagues.

The same survey estimated that 900,000 women had so far left their jobs, due to menopausal symptoms.



 

 

One common thing among most women experiencing menopausal symptoms at work is that they all struggled to talk openly about it. Quite simply, it’s embarrassing. “There’s a stigma around it,” says Rachel Weiss, founder of The Menopause Cafe. “Being an older woman is not viewed as a positive thing in our society.”

The reason women prefer not to talk about their suffering is that they know it would be used in a manner that would mock them. “Every little mistake I made,” says Sukie Stratton, a 51-year-old insurance investigator from Gloucestershire, “people would say: ‘Oh, you must be in the menopause.’” 

At this point, awareness is the only thing that is going to make a difference. Sure, some workplaces have started taking menopause and all its side effects into consideration in a bid to be inclusive, but it's not enough. It will not be enough until every menopausal woman can openly admit to feeling lethargic, depressed, or simply under the weather and not worry about how it will affect their work. Until then, we strive for a better and equal workplace setting. 



 

 

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/17/my-bosses-were-happy-to-destroy-me-the-women-forced-out-of-work-by-menopause

https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/menopause-at-work#gref

https://www.menopausecafe.net/

Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | cteconsulting

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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