Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to



By Margaret Wood 

Margaret Mead, the American anthropologist said, "There is no greater power in the world than the zest of a post-menopausal woman." It is a time when women are not concerned about contraception, periods and associated PMS or painful cramps. “This”, she says, “is freedom.” It is a stage of life that is free of many encumbrances and full of wonderful possibilities. Still young enough to live life to its fullest, during this period a lot of women experience a renewed zest for life and look for exhilarating new adventures or new beginnings. 

Research on the stages of women’s development suggests that women find a renewed sense of purpose, energy, and increased vitality for work pursuits in mid to later life (Bardwick, 1980; Borysenko, 1996). This ties in with Margaret Mead’s concept of Post-Menopausal Zest.

Stage 1: Idealism. Women in this phase will most likely base their career choices on their desires for career satisfaction, achievement and success.

Stage 2: Endurance. Women in this phase are pragmatic about their careers and do what it takes to get it done.

Stage 3: Reinvention. Women in this phase are focused on contributing to their organisations, their families and their communities. As well as providing opportunities for them to continue to learn and develop their own skills and abilities and feel challenged in their work they can coach and develop others. There is a well-spring of knowledge and experience that managers can tap into and organisations to benefit from.

Why then does the gender pay gap start to widen for women at 40 and reach its peak between the ages of 51 and 59?

In the UK for every 100 men there are 103 women. Women represent just under half of the UK workforce (14.7m at July 2018). 4.3m women aged over 50 are currently in employment so, potentially, one in every three women in the workforce is in menopause transition. For most women, the menopause occurs naturally between the ages of 45 and 55 years and lasts between 4 and 8 years, the average age being 51. However, 1 in 100 women will experience the menopause before the age of 40.

According to the British Menopause Society:

  • 75% of women in the United Kingdom say that the menopause has caused them to change their life and
  • more than 50% say it has had a negative impact on their lives.
  • 45% of women say they feel their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work. This can potentially lead to performance management issues and
  • 47% who have needed to take a day off work due to menopause symptoms say they wouldn’t tell their employer the real reason which could lead to sick absence management problems

Could this be the reason why 25% of women say they have considered leaving their job and 1 in 10 do end up handing in their notice?

Replacing women who leave the workforce can be costly not just in recruitment but in losing the experience that those women have had. They can remember problems and solutions from the past and help to find ways of avoiding or minimising problems next time there is a similar situation.

These women have wide-ranging career and life experiences on which to draw. As well as providing opportunities for them to continue to learn and develop their own skills and abilities and feel challenged in their work they can coach and develop others. There is a well-spring of knowledge and experience that managers can tap into and organisations to benefit from.

Businesses not supporting women is currently costing the UK economy millions. In July 2017, the Government Equalities Office estimated annual absence-related losses at around £7.3m

Women who stay outside paid employment for four years are paid 65% less than women who continue working.

75% of women said they felt that they had experienced “lack of confidence” that had held them back at some stage of their careers

65% women say lack of confidence is the reason women are underrepresented in management roles

The Home Secretary recently announced that there were 8.7m people currently economically inactive and who could fill the vacancies left by those leaving to return to other European countries. Coming out of those figures it was suggested that only 20% would like to return to work. Even if that is the case, that probably means that more of a million of those are women. The jobs that will be on offer will be mainly low paid and low skilled. Considering that many of those women could be highly qualified and skilled it seems that they, organisations and the UK economy are missing out. Some of them could go into STEM roles which always seems to be geared towards younger women

The increase in state pension for women is also a significant factor. Many women who expected to be eligible to retire at 60 have found that they would not be able to until they reached 66. This is set to rise again to 68 between 2024 and 2046.

Age is the “number one barrier” to job opportunities in the UK, above gender, ethnicity or educational background, according to research by LinkedIn. Figures show ageism remains a problem in the UK jobs market, and unless employers act, they will miss out on the skills and experience older workers can bring and employers who don’t adjust to the ageing workforce are likely to face skill shortages.

We are offering the opportunity for women who are going through the menopause to talk with others on-line during the current pandemic. Sessions have a loose structure and cover questions such as:

  • ·         What is going well for you? – things you are finding easier working from home
  • ·         What is going less well for you? – things that are more difficult working from home
  • ·         What are you learning about your menopause that is useful to know right now?
  • ·         What are you learning about your menopause that will be useful when the time comes to transition out of lockdown?

We work with small groups of between 6-10 individuals so that they can feel comfortable interacting with others. The sessions are free to attend and are for 45-60 minutes over lunch time or at the end of the working day.

We include a ‘takeaway’ such as an exercise on mindfulness, resilience or questions to pause and reflect on following or in between a session. Individuals may wish to attend one session only or come on a weekly basis.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 01 October 2020