November 08, 2023
2:00 p.m. ET
This event is for invited researchers only.
Yu Tse Heng, University of Virginia
Lisa Leslie, New York University
Eden King, Rice University
Embracing Silver Linings: Understanding When Menopause Facilitates Women’s Generative Behaviors at Work
The mid-to-late stage of women’s careers tends to coincide with their menopausal transition, a natural phase of life for women that is commonly accompanied by vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes, cold sweats, and other unpredictable and uncomfortable physiological changes. Menopause has been linked to undesirable consequences for women, including depression, insomnia, and discomfort, which can have negative implications for their work performance and satisfaction. In our research, however, we identify a potential silver lining of menopause and the conditions needed to facilitate it. Integrating identity theory and lifespan development theory, we propose that the experience of menopause-related vasomotor symptoms can increase women’s generativity at work (e.g., mentorship and support toward others), as it makes salient their identity as a middle-aged woman—a life stage that can often encompass productivity, creativity, and contribution toward future generations. However, considering that menopause is a challenging life transition that is particularly taboo in the workplace, we argue that these positive work experiences only occur when women are supported by their supervisors. We test our predictions via two studies. In Study 1, we analyzed two waves of data from a large archival dataset and found support for the relationship between menopausal symptoms, supervisor support, and generativity. We start data collection for Study 2 in mid-July. Study 2 will utilize a sample of 250 women executives from an executive MBA program in the UK and will adopt a three-wave survey design. The goal of Study 2 is to replicate findings from Study 1 and to test our full model. We hope that our findings will contribute to the limited science on menopause at work. In addition, we hope that our work will encourage organizations to create conditions that help middle-aged women thrive in the workplace.
Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.