Managing menopause at work: The contradictory nature of identity talk

Belinda Steffan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores how older women experience and manage menopause at work by asking how female workers construct their work identity around their experiences of menopause at work. Based on qualitative data from 21 women in Edinburgh, UK, findings suggest that women engaged in conflicting behaviours to manage and make sense of their menopausal bodies at work. On one hand, women engaged in a highly resilient, neo-liberal discourse around controlling and managing the symptoms at work. Conversely, data emerged reflecting a negative and self-deprecating identity talk in how women described themselves in relation to the menopause. This paper responds to the call for more nuanced empirical work on factors affecting extending working lives and experiences of menopause at work. While research output generally acknowledges the need for organisations to better understand individuals needs at work and not to been blinded by anti-ageing discourses, this paper recognises that individual women themselves must also heed this advice to more effectively navigate the menopause through continued labour force participation. This paper also concludes that menopause management at work must consider that individual women face their own unique cocktail of menopause symptoms, as such, blanket HR policies on their own might be inadequate to improve employment outcomes of women challenged and interrupted by the menopause.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Early online date25 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • menopause
  • work
  • identity work
  • extending working lives
  • women

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