Have you ever stopped and thought about the unique challenges that women can face in the workplace? From periods to fertility, and from pregnancy and breastfeeding to menopause, there are so many things that can affect a woman's experience at work.
Dr Brodie Thorpe, one of the Women's Health GP's at FitRight HQ, shares some examples of Women's Health related issues and her top tips to combat potential problem in the workplace.
Written by Dr Brodie Thorpe from FitRight HQ
Why is this an issue?
In recent decades with the advent of the feminist movements and push for female emancipation, we have seen women entering the workforce in significant numbers and gaining greater rights, such as equal pay and legal protections from discrimination.
Despite this, there still exists differences between men and women’s participation in the workforce, and the challenges that they face.
What are some examples?
Some of factors that may affect women in the workforce include;
Dealing with perimenopause/menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbances, mood changes and brain fog in the workplace
Painful, heavy or irregular/unpredictable periods
Undergoing fertility treatments
Breastfeeding and managing pumping and feeding around work duties
Changes to their body after birth, such as pelvic floor issues and urinary incontinence
Parenting young children - e.g. balancing family and work needs, family sickness, child care etc.
Other caring duties e.g. elderly or sick relatives
Domestic and mental load - studies have shown that women take on more household duties on a population level than men working similar hours
Dr Brodie's top 8 tips to combat this
Many of the issues faced by women in the workplace require changes at a legislative and societal level to provide more support to women in the workforce.
There are some practical steps, however, that women can take that may help in certain circumstances, such as;
- Making time to see their GP to explore and create a management plan for any symptoms they are experiencing. Their GP may also suggest involving other health professionals, such as a psychologist or gynaecologist, depending on the issues being experienced.
- Taking time to practice self care, eat well and get adequate sleep and exercise
- Talking to other women who have experienced similar situations
- Speaking to their workplace about strategies that could be put in place - for example access to fans/air conditioning, flexible work options, changes to timing of breaks, creation of a breastfeeding space, better access to bathrooms etc.
- Informing themselves of their legal rights with regards to discrimination in the workplace, and finding out where they can go to for more advice or support
- Engaging with their partner and opening up a dialogue around division of household and parenting responsibilities
- Outsourcing domestic/mental tasks where feasible to help reduce the mental load
- Creating a support network of friends and family