Dr. Lara Owen is recognised internationally for her pioneering and continuing work on menstruation. She has worked for global institutions, universities, and the third sector as a consultant and researcher on menstruation, menopause, and women’s wellbeing and rights more broadly. She has studied, taught and researched in the UK, US and Australia, and is currently involved in two interdisciplinary research projects on menstrual legislation and policies at the University of St Andrews and Western Sydney University.
Lara Owen was born and educated in the UK, and studied history at the University of Warwick with a focus on women and feminism. After graduation, she trained and worked in the UK and China in traditional Chinese medicine, specialising in women’s health. In her early twenties she began to study menstruation in what has become a long-term 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 (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. She has done research on menstruation and women’s wellbeing for non-profits, social enterprises, arts organizations, 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 Organization Studies. Her PhD thesis explored the uptake of the menstrual cup and the menstrual workplace policy. Since 2020 she has worked at the University of St Andrews, where she was awarded a Research Fellowship.
Lara has given keynotes, presentations, lecture series and workshops at many venues, including universities, colleges and other institutions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland and the USA. 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 mainstream newspapers and magazines in the UK, US, Europe, Australia and South America. In recent years, as the concept of menstrual leave has become a hot topic, she has been interviewed by many outlets including the ABC in Australia, BBC Capital in the U.S., the London Financial Times, Stern magazine in Germany, and Spain’s El Periódico de España.
Lara is a founding member of the UK-based interdisciplinary Menstruation Research Network (funded by the Wellcome Trust), and an ongoing member of the US-based Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. Her recent research and writing (2020-22) has been supported by grants from the Scottish Funding Council, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Society of Authors. Her next book, on menstrual organization, is scheduled for publication by Oxford University Press in 2023.