Dr. Lara Owen is recognised internationally for her pioneering and continuing work on attitudes and behaviours surrounding menstruation. Her groundbreaking book, Her Blood Is Gold, was published by HarperCollins in 1993 and has been updated twice. It is now in its third edition (2008), from Archive Publishing.
Lara has worked for universities, international institutions and the third sector as a consultant and researcher on menstruation, menopause, and women’s wellbeing and rights more broadly. Her PhD (Monash Business School) explored the uptake of the menstrual cup and the menstrual workplace policy from a feminist socioeconomic perspective. She now works as a researcher at the University of St Andrews, currently on two projects: a Royal Society of Edinburgh funded project on Scottish government policy on menstrual product access, and a St Andrews funded project on stigma and sustainability.
Lara Owen: Biography
Lara Owen grew up in Nottingham, and studied history at the University of Warwick, with a focus on the history of women and feminism. After graduation, she trained and worked in the UK and China as an acupuncturist, specialising in women’s health. In her early twenties she began to study menstruation, in what has become a longterm project. Working as an independent scholar, she researched historical and cross-cultural perspectives, sought out and interviewed women who experienced menstruation as a powerful, under-acknowledged process in their lives, and researched practical solutions including reusable menstrual products.
Lara’s first article, The Sabbath of Women, a summary of this early research, was published in 1991, followed two years later by the book, Her Blood Is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation (HarperCollins 1993, Archive Publishing 2008). She did further fieldwork in populations known for specific menstrual beliefs and practices, including Orthodox Jews in Los Angeles and the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region of the USA. She has done research on menstruation and women’s wellbeing for non-profits, social enterprises, arts organisations, government departments, global institutions and multinational corporations. In 2015 she completed a two year full-time mixed methods project investigating the attitudes and experiences of over 3,300 women and girls internationally, which included running over thirty focus groups of women and girls in schools, homes and workplaces. From 2016-2020 she was based in the Business School at Monash University, teaching and researching in Organisation Studies. Her PhD thesis explored the uptake of the menstrual cup and the menstrual workplace policy, and how such changes in menstrual practices impact upon organisational life and women’s experience.
Lara has given keynotes, presentations, lecture series and workshops at many venues, including universities, colleges and other institutions in Australia, Canada, China, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland and the US. She has appeared on BBC TV and radio along with many other stations in the UK, US and Australia. Her work has been positively reviewed and featured in a wide range of publications including the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Chicago Tribune, Whole Earth Review, Elle magazine, Woman’s Own and Good Housekeeping. Most recently she was interviewed by the ABC in Australia, BBC Capital in the U.S. and the London Financial Times for features on menstruation in the workplace.
Lara is a founding member of the UK-based interdisciplinary Menstruation Research Network (established by a Wellcome Trust grant), and an ongoing member of the US-based Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. Her current research and writing (2020-21) is supported by grants from the University of St Andrews, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Society of Authors. She is based at the University of St Andrews.
Lara Owen writes and researches on menstruation, work, and feminism. She teaches and consults internationally.