Menopausal symptoms and lack of support halting career progress for women in tech

Intuit QuickBooks research has found that almost a quarter (22 per cent) of women in tech or fintech experiencing menopausal symptoms have delayed or cancelled plans to apply for a promotion

The study from accounting software provider Intuit Quickbooks also revealed that one in five (20 per cent) women working for fintech or tech providers, who have experienced menopausal symptoms, have left or wanted to leave their job.

Meanwhile, almost two in five (38 per cent) surveyed women with experience of menopausal symptoms said they generally felt less confident in their abilities.

In terms of particular symptoms causing lowered self-confidence while working, the most frequently identified were:

  • hot flushes (39 per cent);
  • mood changes such as depression, anxiety and stress (37 per cent);
  • poor sleep quality (36 per cent).

Additionally, 41 per cent of men and women surveyed cited symptoms affecting the ability to perform tasks as a main working challenge, while three quarters (76 per cent) of respondents believe the experience of menopause could affect plans to progress into senior roles.

>See also: How to get more women in tech and retain them

“When people think of the menopause, they often think about the visible side effects it causes,” said Jolawn Victor, vice-president and head of UK at Intuit QuickBooks.

“The impact it can have on confidence is much less discussed — but is certainly no less damaging, particularly in the workplace. Our research shows that across both men and women, about three quarters thought the experience of menopause could affect plans to progress into senior roles. Therefore, employers have a responsibility to offer the support and guidance needed to enable people to go through the menopause without it having a detrimental impact on their career.

“Putting more of a focus on supporting women through menopause can have many benefits for employers too — they are likely to find that retention rates and their pipeline of talent will improve, as barriers to progression and fulfilment are removed. Taking steps in areas like this will also help to close the gender pay gap in tech and fintech.”

Stigma around the menopause

Yet, a workplace stigma surrounding the menopause remains — over two in five women surveyed (43 per cent) said they wouldn’t disclose menopausal symptoms to their employer, with the age group most affected (45-55) proving least likely to reveal such information (48 per cent).

Regarding particular reasons for not revealing menopausal symptoms, nearly half (44 per cent) stated they wouldn’t want to draw attention to the fact they were struggling, while 40 per cent said they didn’t believe they would get any additional support.

Additionally, over a third (36 per cent) said they wouldn’t want to make colleagues feel uncomfortable, and 28 per cent expressed fears that their colleagues will believe they are less capable — leading 23 per cent to think they might be overlooked for promotion.

>See also: WIT USA Q&A — Work to be done regarding tech inclusivity

Workplace support lacking

A lack of management support for those affected is also apparent, with 34 per cent of respondents revealing that their employer provides no support for people in their organisation going through the menopause.

With this in mind, a clear incentive for employers to take action is present — 75 per cent of women surveyed said they would be more likely to stick around if they had supportive measures in place.

Measures identified by male and female participants in the study included awareness training for managers (42 per cent) and wellness resources (40 per cent).

Caroline Rheubottom, global co-chair of the Intuit Women’s Network, commented: “There is finally growing public awareness that the menopause should not be something people are afraid or uncomfortable to talk about, and this is particularly true in the workplace.

“Actively providing and promoting specific support will not only give those affected practical resources, but also help them to speak up and address some of their concerns.”

Intuit Quickbooks surveyed 3,000 men and women working in fintech or for tech providers for its research.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.