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This chapter takes off from the observation that menopause in human beings is still understood in the prevailing biomedical discourse as a period of decline, failure, loss and ending, a construction which limits not just the questions we can ask about menopause but also how we answer them. Instead, we need to understand menopause through a biopsychosocial lens and specifically as a transition; as well as reframing it as an experience that is significantly inflected by an individual’s social context and their psyche. This allows us to include the bodies of those who currently do not count in prevailing discourse and ensuing policy and practice around menopause, and to understand that there is no such thing as THE menopause.

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In this short editorial conclusion, we draw out the key messages offered throughout the volume’s chapters, highlighting areas where these chapters complement each other and/or make contributions to the knowledge base on menopause transitions and the workplace. This foundation is then used to re-assess areas that require further development, or which have opened up as new research areas given the now expanded knowledge base. This culminates in a clear research agenda to follow going forwards as we hope to see menopause transitions in the workplace becoming a more established research field. Our edited volume has brought together chapters covering menopause as a biopsychosocial process; transitions within workplaces; flexible working; trade unions, the spatial context of work; and male allyship in organizations. With this breadth of subject matter, we have made clear contributions and advanced knowledge on menopause in the following, important ways. First, the chapters have helped counter the still predominantly biomedical discourse around menopause and have furthered the discussions around a biopsychosocial approach. Karen Throsby and Celia Roberts do this most prominently in Chapter 2, and set the tone for the whole volume thereby. As their analysis makes clear, although the provision of HRT is an important subject and the focus on the availability of such medication in UK parliamentary activities is welcome (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause, 2022; Women and Equalities Committee, 2022), there is a need for an extension of support for menopausal women to consider social and cultural factors. We also need, as Karen and Celia establish, to open up the conversation around menopause to include those who are often excluded – LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, people who do not have children and those who go through premature menopause – in workplaces and elsewhere.

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This chapter considers organizational practice, workplace interventions and possibilities for further provisions in this area, with a particular focus on evaluating (potential) employer interventions. It is based on UK survey data gathered and draws on a psychological contract framework, which allows an assessment of a range of menopause considerations and their implications for the employment relationship. Comparing organizational and line managers’ support with women’s willingness to disclose highlights the shared responsibility to create workplaces in which meaningful help and support around menopause can be provided. The chapter concludes with the call that substantial cultural change is needed to normalize the conversation around menopause and the warning that organizations ignore menopause at their peril.

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In focusing on menopausal women in the labour market and specific workplaces, this edited volume aims to re-theorize the management of people as it relates to the connections between gender, age and the body in organizations. The ‘bodily turn’ in management and organization studies is now nearing the end of its fourth decade (see, for early examples of this research, Burrell, 1984; Hearn et al, 1989; Acker, 1990; Brewis and Grey, 1994), and work which critically unpicks diversity initiatives dates back at least to the early 2000s (for example Kersten, 2000; Lorbiecki and Jack, 2000; Dick and Cassell, 2002). Despite this, the menopause is still rarely discussed in management and organization studies, the sociology of work and employment literature or HRM research. In this introduction, we outline exactly why menopause is a workplace issue as well as reviewing both contemporary UK organizational practice and recent academic research in this space. The introduction concludes with an overview of the volume chapter by chapter.

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This chapter is based on qualitative interviews with young cis men who had either just completed their undergraduate studies or were about to, all of whom held ambitions to move into professional and/or managerial jobs. These interviews were punctuated by conversations with their mothers about menopause at work. The chapter adds to our knowledge in terms of how others at work react to colleagues experiencing difficulties relating to menopause symptoms, which is still under-studied as a social phenomenon. The chapter unpacks the concept of male allyship in this space in order to highlight some of the associated tensions and risks but also, and more positively, some of its possibilities for equality work.

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This chapter is based on UK data related to trade union activities and trade union members. These data show that raising awareness among trade unionists leads to an increase in conversations about menopause, and that a more diverse group of individuals, including cis men, are participating in these conversations. The chapter argues that the engagement that trade union representatives stimulate and encourage around menopause shows the relevance and importance of the trade union movement to diverse workforces. It is also discussed how addressing the needs of individuals experiencing menopause transition at work can lead to improvements in employment and working conditions overall. This means that increasing social awareness of menopause and of trade union activity in this field would make for greater union leverage to ensure broader workplace change.

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Theorizing Transitions, Responsibilities and Interventions
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The symptoms of menopause transitions have profound implications for work and are, in turn, affected by work. Despite this, the topic is rarely discussed in management and organization studies.

Providing an overview of existing knowledge in the field of menopause in the workplace, this collection re-theorises the management of human resources as it relates to the connections between gender, age and the body in the workplace environment with an intersectional analysis.

Offering theoretical frameworks from experts as well as possible practical approaches that can be implemented in workplaces to support women transitioning through menopause, this is a go-to reference for academics and policy makers working in the field.

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This chapter is based on survey and interview data from two UK empirical projects. It focuses on the fact that shared space at work often leads to conflicts around temperature and ventilation between menopausal people experiencing hot flushes and their colleagues. The chapter uses Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos’ concept of spatial justice to analyse the data, which is based on his notion that this justice is rooted in ‘the conflict between bodies that are moved by a desire to occupy the same space at the same time … the emergence of a negotiation between bodies’ (2015, p 3). This is not, typically, a conflict between equals, and often leads to the sedimentation of existing patterns of inequity, in the workplace as elsewhere.

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This chapter considers the poor fit between workplace policy and menopause considerations in UK organizations, coming at these issues through the lens of flexible work and its utilization in workplaces. It is argued that organizational offers around flexible work would be improved by becoming more responsive, and managers more adept at designing and monitoring flexible working arrangements. This chapter contributes to human resource management (HRM) knowledge by looking at the gap that has emerged between a legislative framework that could potentially support menopause transitions and more routine workplace decision-making that lacks the nuance to accommodate diverse working arrangements. It is argued that intersectional theory offers mileage in developing more effective psychological contracts that acknowledge changing and varied needs associated with menopause and normalizes the accommodation of these within workplace practice.

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This chapter is the product of a qualitative research based on 15 in-depth interviews with upper-level managers in Italy who lost their job when they were in their 50s. The research aims to contribute to an understanding of social processes that shape the lived experience of attempted transitions from unemployment among older workers. Drawing on the interview materials, it shows how age discrimination and common discourses about ageing and work in the contemporary Italian labour market limit the options available to older workers to successfully revive their career. Being discriminated against on account of age was described by interviewees as a frustrating experience that led them to construct a negative stereotyped character that they used to describe older workers and to distance themselves from this identity. Consistent with neoliberalism, work-related problems that may occur when one experiences late-career job loss were attributed by interviewees to an assumed decrease in the usefulness of workers as they age, and the responsibility for finding a solution to these problems was laid entirely on individuals’ shoulders.

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