Women miss out on thousands of pounds as their career peak is hit by taking time off to get through the menopause
Women are missing out on promotions and pay hikes because of taking time off to get through the menopause, a study has found.
Researchers discovered many see their careers derailed – or even ended – just as they reach the peak of their working life due to absences caused by debilitating menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety and heart palpitations.
The report’s authors found that women suffering normal menopausal symptoms, between the ages of 50 and 55, take an average of two months off work, but those who go through an early menopause, before they reach 45, take off about four months.
Researchers at the Social Research Institute at University College London (UCL) estimated that women who face early menopause lose about £20,000 in wages and pension contributions from missing out on better jobs, while those who go through a more typical menopause face a £10,000 loss.
Previous studies have found that up to 90 per cent of women suffer menopausal symptoms of varying intensity, but about a quarter of those describe them as severe and debilitating.
Researchers discovered many see their careers derailed – or even ended – just as they reach the peak of their working life due to absences caused by debilitating menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, anxiety and heart palpitations
Professor Alice Sullivan, the study’s co-author, said: ‘Menopause results in millions of days lost through absenteeism, and some women may choose to leave employment rather than ask their employers for support.
‘You’re looking at women who would be at the peak of their careers, so this has implications for getting women into the most senior positions. They are losing out on top jobs, getting paid less and reducing their pension pot.’
Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that the menopause was also responsible for preventing many women even trying for top jobs.
A survey of 2,400 women by feminist campaign group the Fawcett Society found that half were less likely to apply for a promotion because of what they were going through.
The UCL paper is the first of its kind to quantify the effects of the menopause on employment rates among women. Its findings are based on an analysis of more than 3,000 women from the university’s nationally representative 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS).
The NCDS documents the lives of 17,415 people born in England, Scotland and Wales in a single week of 1958 and is considered to produce ‘gold standard’ data.
The sample of 3,405 women whose health and work histories were analysed for the menopause research had not undergone hormone replacement therapy, nor surgery to remove their womb or ovaries.
Prof Sullivan said the Government must urge employers to put in place policies that give affected women more opportunities to manage their working patterns and hours.
Caroline Nokes MP, chairman of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: ‘This research backs up previous surveys and studies which have made it very clear there is a significant financial cost to women from menopause symptoms.
‘The work the Select Committee is doing at the moment has identified the impact on both career progression and even the ability of women to stay in the workplace. That means there are promotion opportunities lost, pension contributions lost and, in too many cases, direct income lost as women feel unable to continue in work.’