Written evidence from Ms Sue Dunn, Oxford Brookes University [MEW0045]

I am currently a Masters Student of Coaching and Mentoring at Oxford Brookes University.

As part of my studies I am completing a 20,000 dissertation on the topic “Menopause in the workplace: Exploring the experience of coaching for menopausal women”

For this project I interviewed menopausal women, all senior, 2 of whom are Chief Executives. My aim was to find out about their experiences of the menopause in the workplace and whether workplace coaching had helped them.

The women all had powerful stories of the difficulties they had encountered in the workplace. Many had a feeling of discomfort, and were all reluctant to disclose their symptoms for fear of being marginalized in the workplace. Some were considering leaving due the severity of their symptoms and the lack of support in the workplace. For some, menopause support networks had provided great help but the support in the workplace by managers etc. was patchy to say the least.

All of the women had been coached or were coaches and had found it a very useful intervention for addressing their particular issues of confidence and anxiety. It was clear that many of these highly educated, and very successful women, often knew very little about what the menopause was outside of the usual hot flushes etc. The difficulties in diagnosis and the variability of support from their GPs was an issue for some. The psychological symptoms of loss of confidence, self-esteem and anxiety were particular challenges for them in the workplace.

Every single participant wanted to or already was, supporting other women in the workplace. What they wanted was information, awareness and for the menopause to be normalized and supported.

The importance of providing education, support and interventions was important to all working groups, however for the senior participants in my research study, they had the flexibility to make their own work adjustments if needed. For some Covid had been a relief from the physical workplace, but not for all.

The participants in my study were without exception, strong, resilient women, but the menopause had floored some of them in ways they weren’t prepared.

My dissertation has been approved by the university and will be submitted for marking at the end of September.

September 2021