As regular readers know, in 2013 I moved from the UK to Australia to run a research project for a women’s advocacy organisation in Melbourne, tasked to find out what women and girls today think and feel about menstruation and menopause, and what they feel they need with regard to these often misunderstood or suppressed parts of their lives. I had a brilliant assistant and associate in Adrienne Bogard, and gathered a fantastic team of interns and volunteers.
We interviewed and listened to hundreds of women and girls in Victoria, including 350 aged 12-70 in 30 focus groups held in homes and schools throughout the state. We ran an online questionnaire, which was answered by 3,346 women from 55 countries. We developed various pieces of research on areas of particular concern, including endometriosis and menstrual product legislation. I was also able, with the assistance of two HR professionals who volunteered on the project, to do in-depth research in workplaces into attitudes to menstrual leave, and in addition, our conversation groups with working women elicited a wealth of material about women’s needs regarding both menstruation and menopause in the workplace.
We are enormously grateful to everyone who assisted with the research and who responded to our questionnaire and calls for conversation groups. Many women told us that the conversation groups had a therapeutic value for the attendees, who were able to talk about taboo and sometimes traumatic matters in a supportive environment. For myself, it was a fantastic experience to spend two years listening to women and girls talk about menstruation and menopause. The process was a deep validation of my earlier work, and added much depth and detail to my knowledge and understanding.
Adrienne and I delivered a 570 page highly detailed research report in September 2015. Against our wishes and expectations, this report has not so far been made public, in any form. We have been told the commissioning organisation is committed to producing a document based on the research, but apparently work has not yet commenced on this.
Next month, I start a new research project at Monash University Business School, investigating menstruation in the workplace and the effects of the use of sustainable reusable menstrual products.
I am also teaching and consulting internationally with individuals and with organisations, especially workplaces. I feel strongly about the need to change our assumptions about how workplaces operate with regard to biological cycles and transitions. Work environments are major causative factors of ill-health, and this indictment on the health of our work culture includes the failure to make appropriate accommodation to women’s specific needs. I’ll be writing more about that subject here over the coming months.
As you might have noticed, this website has had a major refurbishment, and there are more changes in store, including details of classes and workshops. I’ll be sending out a new occasional newsletter again, so do sign up to receive it in your inbox. I’m now building my workshop schedule for the next 12 months, so contact me if you’re interested in attending or organising a workshop in your area. And please feel free to get in touch with any queries about my work.