How the menopause taboo hurts working women

Businesswoman working on laptop in office
Businesswoman working on laptop in office
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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Dick’s Sporting Goods wants to appeal to more women, British media mixes up three black MPs, and menopausal women are suffering in silence at work. Have a wonderful Wednesday. 

– A hot topic. Here’s something you probably weren’t expecting to think about this morning: menopause!

Let me amend that. If you are among the 61 million women in the U.S. workforce who are over 50, you may indeed spend plenty of time thinking about menopause and its impact on your work life—though there’s a very high likelihood you keep most of those thoughts to yourself.

This Harvard Business Review piece, written by a trio of researchers, points out that not only does menopause affect a significant number of employees, but it can make it harder for them to succeed at work. Symptoms like poor concentration, memory lapses, and vocal cord distress can impact women’s day-to-day. Indeed, one survey found that about a third of menopausal women ended up taking some sick leave to cope.

But here’s the really tricky part: Only a quarter of those women told their manager the real reason for the time off. Not surprisingly, research shows that many women are hesitant to talk about menopause at work, for fear that they’ll be ridiculed, discriminated against, or marked as targets for layoffs. As long as the corporate world avoids the topic, women will suffer in silence—or perhaps even drop out of the workforce all together.

The HBR authors have some ideas about how we might chip away at this taboo; read them all here. And if you have some personal experience on this front that you’d like to share, drop me a note. We may use your response in a future Broadsheet.

Kristen Bellstrom

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


- On a tear. A year after her infamous clap back at President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had another State of the Union moment last night, when she tore a paper version of Trump's speech in half after he'd finished his address. The chill between the two was obvious; Trump rebuffed a handshake from Pelosi and she omitted laudatory language as she introduced him. Pelosi said ripping up the speech was "the courteous thing to do considering the alternative.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) delivered different SOTU responses for the Dems and, in Pressley's case, the Working Families Party. New York Times

- Better boards. Moving down the org chart and away from reliance on CEOs is helping boards of directors diversify. Marriott is one company to push its lower-level execs to join outside boards. Bloomberg

- What women want. Dick's Sporting Goods wants to capitalize on the increased popularity of women's pro sports—and the likelihood that women, more than men, support its decision to no longer sell firearms—by revamping its stores and marketing to appeal to female customers. The $8.7 billion chain spent in the "low eight figures" to sponsor USA Softball, provide a grant to U.S. Soccer Foundation for girls' programs, and sell more products for women and girls. Bloomberg

- Best bet? The Best Buy board of directors has decided to stand by CEO Corie Barry, who was investigated for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. After the investigation, the board said it supports Barry's "continued leadership" of the company. CNBC

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Exos named former Flywheel CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan its new chief executive. SoftBank chief people officer Michelle Horn left the firm. OWN hired as head of marketing Jennifer Giddens, formerly head of global creative marketing of the kids and family division of Netflix. Juliette Kayyem, a former official in the Obama Administration, stepped down as senior adviser to NSO Group following criticism from press freedom groups; NSO's technology has reportedly been used to target journalists. Samar Younes, formerly of Coach, joins Showfields as creative director. 


- Revenue report. For the first time, Alphabet this week broke out revenue for YouTube, led by CEO Susan Wojcicki, from the rest of the Google parent's earnings. YouTube made more than $15 billion in revenue in 2019—on the lower end of analysts' projections. Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat says the company decided to disclose the information "to provide further insight into our business and the opportunities ahead." Wall Street Journal

- Media mix-up. Three media outlets—BBC, Evening Standard, and Getty Images—mixed up photos of three black female members of Parliament. The BBC first mislabeled a photo of Labour MP Marsha de Cordova as Labour's Dawn Butler. Then, the Evening Standard wrote about BBC's error but used a photo of Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy instead of de Cordova; the paper blamed a Getty Images caption. Whew! Butler used the multiple mix-ups to point out that "diversity in the workplace matters [and] helps to avoid making simple mistakes like this." Guardian 

- The Finnish Dream. Is the American Dream thriving ... in Finland? Prime Minister Sanna Marin says she thinks the by-the-bootstraps goal is now easier to achieve in her country and its neighbors. "I feel that the American Dream can be achieved best in the Nordic countries, where every child, no matter their background or the background of their families, can become anything," she said in an interview, citing the region's social welfare and education programs. Washington Post

- Leading ladies. Movies are catching up to TV when it comes to representing women onscreen. Of the top 100 box-office movies in 2019, 43 had female leads or co-leads, 16 of whom were women of color, according to the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The results, coupled with the recent lack of diversity in Oscar and BAFTA nominations, shed light on the "very obvious disconnect between what sells tickets and what garners awards," the report says. Variety


Lesotho’s first lady charged with murder of PM's former wife Guardian

After Oprah’s departure, film about Russell Simmons accusers finds new home New York Times

New emotions: That feeling when another woman hypes you up The Cut

What if Hillary Clinton hadn't married Bill? A new novel will explore that possibility People


"They were ambitious, good at their jobs, and may never work in broadcast again."

-Charlize Theron on empathizing with the Fox News employees depicted in Bombshell

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