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Dec. 22, 2022

Prof Rebecca Mitchell: Researching the intersection of menopause and women's careers

How do we change the narrative around menopause in the workplace?

Professor Rebecca Mitchell, of Macquarie Business School, is leading a study that draws together Macquarie Business School’s Health & Wellbeing Research Unit and Psychological Sciences researchers of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, to answer that question.

The project explores the intersection of menopause and women’s careers through a positive psychology lens.

Professor Mitchell says... "women are to some extent on their own when it comes to managing menopause. There are big gaps in the research around how women, as leaders, progress through this period."

“There's nothing [in the literature] about how women can become more effective, more productive, how they can change careers, be adaptable, transition into new ways of working; there's nothing about that at all."

“Nobody wants to talk about it. And that's amplified by the fact that people don't know what to say, because there's this dearth of research to guide them. There's a skerrick of research that looks at what can be done, but a lot of the solutions are generic: time off, education and training, and so on.”

Expect to learn a lot in this episode with Rebecca about exactly what it takes to introduce policy change into workplaces. It's a lot more complicated than I initially realised.

Topics we discuss:

  • The questions workplaces and leaders should be asking, but aren't
  • Why announcements around additional sick leave are tokenist, only providing a stop-gap solution
  • Why many women give up on their leadership and career progression goals as a result of menopause
  • What research is being done, how and how long it will take
  • How you can be involved in the research

About Rebecca

Prof Jayashri Kulkarni: Mental Health and Menopause

Where to find Sonya:
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Stellar Women Website

You're invited to join the We Are Stellar Women community on Facebook, a free supportive space for all women navigating the menopausal transition. Click here to join.


[00:04]Rebecca, thank you so much for joining me today.

[01:31] Rebecca: Thank you so much. I'm really excited to chat to you.

[01:34] Sonya: Amazing. So let's kick things off by why don't you introduce yourself to the audience and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

[01:43] Rebecca: Well, I'm Rebecca Mitchell, I work at Macquarie University and I lead a center there called the Health and Well Being at Work Research Unit. So we like it because the acronym is how are you? And we do a lot of work on well, exactly what it said. How can we support people to be to have better health, better wellbeing and greater resilience at work? And we take a view that it's very much support and resources that influence this, rather than looking at it in terms of an individual's responsibility. So we look at how organizations and leaders can best support individuals and create environments that are going to contribute to health, wellbeing and resilience. And that is where the menopause study comes in because that's what we're looking at.

[02:38] Sonya: Exactly. And that's what we connected over and what we're here to chat about in a bit more detail today. How did you come to be in this space where you're working in health and well being at work?

[02:54] Rebecca: Oh, well, I was so lucky, actually. Historically I worked in healthcare and my research has been in healthcare, but when I landed in Macquarie, there was quite a great cohort of fantastic colleagues who were really interested in health and wellbeing and mental health at work and they were looking at nursing. So I got involved then. And then I kind of started to read around and thought, my gosh, this is a way that I can have a real impact because people are struggling. I think they're struggling to COVID but before that, they were struggling in particular occupations and everybody is rethinking what it is they want to do, I think all the time we're doing that. But things like lockdown and financial changes and in political changes have meant that people are saying, what is it that I want from work or don't want from work? So I thought, okay, this is really a great opportunity for us to do some work. That has a real impact.

[04:00] Sonya: Yeah, a real impact. I would imagine it. And as you mentioned, even before COVID and the Pandemic, this kind of questions, I guess, were being or conversations were being had around how we can improve work environments for employees. Work from home has become so common now, but it's only prepandemic that it was not a thing that was ever on the table for most employees, I would imagine. And I can imagine that there's been some incredible benefits for some employees to have that flexibility now to work from home versus in an office environment.

[04:47] Rebecca: I think so. But it's like everything, I think for some people with young kids, for example, or who are living in small places where they're coharing things like that, there are lots of challenges. And some people really like being at work and having that big distinction between work and family. And one of the things that we found, we have done some research on this, but it's been really widely researched, is that women tend to enjoy it, certainly. I'm not saying that they don't have greater satisfaction, but they work longer hours and they tend to integrate the burden of the work that they have to do at home. And the work that they have to do for work kind of contributes to this really long work day. So they might say, okay, what I'm going to do is I'm going to do the washing and prepare the meals in my lunch hour, and I'm going to do this and this and this. And what it can mean for women is that they end up having very long days. It might mean they have more relaxed weekends, but I'm still a bit concerned and there's still a bit of evidence that people are finding it difficult to say no when they don't have the option to just say, I'm walking out the door.

[06:14] Sonya: Yeah. So boundaries obviously get quite blurred.

[06:17] Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. It's a whole other story, really.

[06:23] Sonya: It is. I know. I'm like, oh, hang on, we just went off down a rabbit hole. I didn't mean to take it.

[06:27] Rebecca: But it's an interesting story.

[06:29] Sonya: Yeah, I'm sure there's a whole other podcast in there. But let's bring us back to what we're here to talk about today, and that is the study and the research that you are doing in relation to supporting women in the workplace when it comes to their menopausal transition.

[06:44] Rebecca: Yeah, I'm excited about it, actually, because what happened was I was invited to do some work with a colleague. And so I just started reading in the area, and I was devastated, actually. I just thought, oh, my gosh, it's like the land. I forgot, but there's nothing here. What is going on? And I'm a woman and a woman of a certain age. So, like, my cousin had talked to me about her transition, and I knew about it. Don't get me wrong. I knew about it from friends, from family, from myself. So I knew it was an issue, and yet there was just nothing in the literature. So there was a lot of study. There's a lot of research on the biology, I think, that's there, and that's true. And then in terms of work and women, it tends to be around women's experience a very descriptive and while that's good, I mean, I really, you know, I commend that great insight. If you're in an organization, you're a leader, or you're an organization, you're looking how to support women, or you're a woman and looking for what can help me here, there's very little that advises that, very little at all. And I was so excited when I realized that the unions were coming forward and saying that they were arguing for menstrual leave and for leave them to support menopause. But part of me was thinking, yeah, well, the reason that they're asking for leave is because we don't know what else to do. We don't know what else is going to support women, and we don't know whether taking chunks of leave is actually going to be beneficial, but maybe it's going to be useful on that day if you really feel like, I need not to be at work. But does taking this extra time, does this actually benefit you in the long run or with something else? Be more supportive, be more sustainable. What happens when you run out of that leave? If indeed you do have a physical or complication, that means that you need more time.

[08:59] Sonya: Yeah, it seems and I agree with you, my reaction was very similar. It was like, okay, it's a start. We're having the conversation. But it seems to me very tokenistic.

[09:12] Rebecca: Yeah, look, I don't want to be negative about it because it's just wonderful that they're stepping up and saying we need to do something. But you're right. It's just this blunt kind of instrument, and it's a little bit like we do it for everything. So feeling sick takes them leave. Going through a transition takes some leave. Having troubles at home takes them leave. So it's really this kind of blunt, okay, well, we can offer this to you, but I'm not sure that it's actually the best thing that we can do. And one of the things that I've been trying to say is really when we have a look at what's happening for women, there are a number of different things that we see. So first of all, menopause. There have been these very, very few studies, but studies nonetheless that say that women really may feel like they have brain fog, they may feel like their memory is compromised, but actually they're still able to perform. Obviously, I'm generalizing here. They perform the same way. On the arithmetic problem, it's really important to know that, to know that your expertise, your experience hasn't been compromised by this. And what actually is happening for many people is two things. First of all, because they feel different. They lose confidence, they lose selfefficacy. They think I'm not performing well. But then that's compounded by meta stereotyping, which is basically where you think other people are going to view me that way. So you feel if I tell my boss or I tell my colleagues that I'm having a hot flash or I'm having a bit of brain fog, then they are going to have, you know, put these stereotypes on me that I'm no longer a viable, feasible, useful person, I'm no longer able to do my job. So it all gets mucked in together where women kind of are facing. They go through it. We go through, you know, definitely a transition and it does have an effect, but we haven't, we haven't been able to kind of pull out. Look, how much of this is actually where you're not able to function and how much is where you've lost your confidence in how you're functioning and how much is what other people are thinking about you and the assumptions they are making and the assumptions about what you're thinking, the biases that they're holding. And most of the research, even though there's very little done, indicates that it's the latter that's happening. It's not actually where you are functioning in a depleted way. You still have that expertise, you still have that experience and you are still you. You might go through periods of being a bit wonky, but ultimately what's really happening and what derails women is that lack of confidence.

[12:28] Sonya: Yeah. Yeah. That's really interesting because we do focus so much on the symptomology and, you know, the symptoms that everybody is familiar with the most, like the hot flushes and the brain fog and there is the belief that they are the core reasons why women are struggling in the workplace, perhaps. But yet it's really interesting to look at that other more psychological side of it and that totally makes sense to me. And I've had a couple of conversations with different people on the podcast and conversations I've had with clients and women that I've come across where they say it's almost like their confidence is chipped away at because there may be some memory retention issues. And, you know, perhaps at home they forget something that's in the diary. And so that, you know, it's like, oh, God, I totally forgot that. Or something happens at work and it's like, oh gosh, I'm so sorry, that slipped my mind. And the feedback from that, from other people is often, well, what's wrong with you? You never used to forget things, you used to be so good at remembering things, all of a sudden you can't. And it's those sorts of comments, I would imagine, and feedback that is chipping away at that confidence or perhaps, like you say, feeding into a state of being more so than the symptoms actually are.

[13:50] Rebecca: Yeah, I think you're a spot on there. And the other thing is that when they have done these investigations into what's happening for women at work, what they have tended to find is that it's more around, do those symptoms get very severe? So for women who have kind of, I'm going to say normal but mild to moderate symptoms and I know it's very difficult because we are all individuals and this is a really different kind of individual experience, that's what I'm talking about here. So there are definitely people who just like in pregnancy and diabetes, anything that humans go through, when we're talking about something that's very severe, it is obviously a different kettle of fish. It is different. And those people, I don't mean to say that these people who are finding menopause extremely challenging shouldn't be expected to just continue in the workforce the way that other people should. But what I'm worried about, I guess, is that women tend to go parttime at this point, but more than that, they tend to not go for promotions and they tend to take sidesteps at work. Some of them leave work, but more what's happening is they don't move into leadership positions.

[15:29] Sonya: This is where we see the flow on impact on the longevity of their careers, their ability, their earning capacity changes. We know that trickles through into things like superannuation and that sort of thing as well.

[15:42] Rebecca: Yeah, and a girlfriend of mine, I know this is Anecdotal, but a girlfriend of mine didn't go up for promotion. And I talked to a wife, she said I just didn't feel like myself. Then what happened was fair enough, that's her choice. But then what happened was she was kind of stuck as that person who didn't go for promotion. Then her confidence continued to dwindle, she was seen as all her friends had been promoted and they were all building their career, seeing themselves as a leader. She wasn't. And it was reinforced, as you said, that you're less than, your expertise is somehow diminished and your career trajectory is now flatlining and there's nothing to do about it because often we kind of go with our peers, don't we, on that promotion track. And if you're out of step, you're kind of, OK, what do I do now? And that's what I'm trying to stop. So that's what I'm trying to do. At least a group of us anyway, are trying to look at what is it that is going to support women so their career trajectories don't get derailed. They continue to grow into those leadership positions. Because when you have a look at women in their perimenopause to say, forty s and menopause 50s, this is the time of leadership. And if you're rocked a bit at that time, organizations are missing out on a heck of a lot of talent, a heck of a lot of leadership potential. And I don't think it's because they don't want it. I think it's because what we offer is, okay, you can provide extra leave, but that's not really supporting a woman's continuing career trajectory, which is, I think, what we want to say. We want to say, okay, this is something that you haven't come across before. You've lost self efficacy. It's a bumpy road. How can we make sure that that doesn't trip you up, that you are still progressing into those leadership positions or whatever else you want to do?

[17:45] Sonya: You want to do? Sure. Okay, so hang on. Let me take all of that back. Tell us about the actual study or research that you're kind of knee deep in at the moment. Where are you at with that? What are you actually doing kind of on a day to day basis with that?

[18:03] Rebecca: Okay, well, first of all, what we're doing is finding out what's written or what's not written. So like any research project, you have to work out what's the state of the nation, so to speak. And I guess what we found is what I've talked to you about little, very little. And then we're embarking on qualitative interviews. So interviews that are really looking at women's experiences and looking at what supported individual women to continue in their careers, to continue advancing, progressing, working at the same level, if not higher level, during this menopausal period. So people who have experienced mild and moderate menopausal symptoms and who have continued to thrive at work, continued to progress and advance at work, and what happened to them? What was it that made that happen? And looking at women who perhaps that wasn't their story, they felt that they missed out. They didn't advance the way they wanted to. And what happened for them, why, what could have been different and what happened that may have accounted for that. And by the end of that study, we hope to have a picture of the kinds of factors at work that are going to support women to thrive in advance through menopause and beyond. That's our aim. We will then go and do quantitative studies, so widespread surveys, to make sure that what we found in our interviews actually rings and publish, publish as much as we can so that we can change this narrative, which is a pretty brief narrative, like, if you're a woman well, we both are, I suppose. When you're a woman and you're reading this, I got depressed. I was actually sitting there going, oh, you know, this is something very negative for women. It's the weight of the the burden. And I know there is that facet to it. I do know that I'm not pretending that this is not difficult. I'm just saying that that's not if you want if you're looking for how can organizations, how can I make this, how can I thrive, how can I pursue leadership? It ain't there. It isn't in the literature, and we've got to change that.

[20:37] Sonya: Yeah. And when you say it's not in the literature, are you referring to a lack of, I guess, training programs in when or when businesses and corporations are training their leaders and their people managers to have the education themselves? And the knowledge themselves to know that this is something that the female employees are going to go through at some point in time and therefore have the skills to be able to help them and support them through those.

[21:12] Rebecca: There are some training programs, but if I just training programs and skill development and policy should all be based on evidence, and there isn't the evidence. So there is a research that's been done to support that. So the training programs that exist, and I know of quite a few of them, and they're really fabulous, they're based on what evidence is out there, which is pretty slim, this positive plant, it doesn't look at what is actually going to help you thrive, what is going to help you advance. It's kind of minimizing the disruption that some physical symptoms might cause.

[21:52] Sonya: Yes. Okay. That's really interesting. So I understand now that where we actually have a gap is in the research.

[21:59] Rebecca: Yeah. So cool.

[22:01] Sonya: Part kind of thing is that globally, is that a global issue?

[22:06] Rebecca: It is, yeah. All academics are global people. We definitely don't just look at what's happening in Australia, and there are some great researchers in Australia. I have colleagues in Monash and Griffith that I read their material. I think it's brilliant. But the UK is doing some fantastic work, policy work, government sort of ventures in this area. So I think we're not alone and we can continue to work internationally to make sure we advance this. But, like, I'm hoping in ten years or let's just say when my daughter is, like, in 30 years, when she's going through I'm hoping that when she comes to her workplace and looks for support, there's a suite of things that are well evidenced that she knows will help her get through whatever period she has to get through rather than leave. And awareness training and things like that, which are great, but they're just not just not tailored to what we go through.

[23:12] Sonya: Yeah. So what I'm hearing from you is that this work, this research, which is so important, is really and I love this is really about shoring up the future for the generations that are coming up behind us, our daughters, their daughters, that sort of thing.

[23:32] Rebecca: Absolutely. Definitely. Although my daughter did come in to me and say, I was talking to a friend of mine she said, you talk about the most boring things, Mum, and I thought you wait. I'm boring when you're going through it, I can tell you.

[23:49] Sonya: That's so funny. Well, let's hope that by then it is such a normal part of our conversation that we don't have to be talking about it all the time.

[23:58] Rebecca: Well, I think maternity is somewhat we've done a better job there so that people understand the kinds of things that are useful and the kinds of things that are necessary. And it's a whole suite of things there. It's not just about taking time off, it's about lots of different things, including just your ergonomics. So we've done a better job there. There has been some more work in that area, but a friend of mine was saying they're moving towards having better medical knowledge in general practice, as well as specialist medical services for people who are facing challenges during menopause. And some of the things that we were talking about that organizations have done that's been really effective is facilitating access to those specialist practitioners. Because particularly in larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, it's not just because somebody is hated in Sydney, it doesn't mean they're accessible to you. It may be that you don't just get time off, but what you get is facilitated access to a medical practitioner. And indeed, one of the universities that I was talking to was talking about who had a large cohort of women that were going through this transition. The menopause of transition was having medical practitioners come to the university and talk about HRT and talk about other nonmedical.

[25:31] Sonya: But still health related lifestyle changes. Yeah, absolutely. How amazing would that be to have that support and access to those experts available through your place of work?

[25:45] Rebecca: Absolutely. Cost wise, having a medical practitioner come and do that a few times is probably much more cost effective than saying to those women, why don't you take.

[25:57] Sonya: Ten days off leave? Exactly. Plus, I would imagine I know that when I've a little bit of research, which was nothing compared to what you do around the benefits of even just menopause awareness in the workplace, is your increasing productivity, you're increasing loyalty and longevity of staff members and that reduction of leave.

[26:22] Rebecca: Yeah, absolutely. And I look at this, it's bad timing. Do you know what? That's the other thing I always think home. And of course comes when you're at your peak. Not to say that 60 isn't another peak, but this is where we're flying. We've learnt so much and we've done so many things and we're ready to leave. A lot of us are ready to take on whatever the organization throws at us and make a big impact and then suddenly, bang, bang, bang, we've got this. We can be derailed. We can be derailed really easily. And a lot of that's not on us. A lot of it is we are sure we're the people who are going through it. But I mean, I talked to people who were saying, I was so embarrassed because I had a hot flash. Now that's wrong. You should never be embarrassed because you think other people are thinking less of you, are judging you.

[27:20] Sonya: And we've got and that so much of that is wrapped up in the shame and the stigma that is a societal problem still around menopause.

[27:30] Rebecca: Yes, absolutely. I was chatting to my friend the other day, who she's 48, I think, and she said something like, you know, I comfort myself by thinking I could just run out now and have a baby if I wanted to. And she was being facetious. What she was saying was while menopause and menstruation and all of these things are about reproduction, it's not really what it's about, is it like we're not sitting here going, okay, we can't have any kids anymore. That's not the issue. It's what other people are thinking about us. It's the physical bumps along the way. Maybe it's a hot flash.

[28:16] Sonya: So if it's cool with you, I'd like to move on to just back to the research that you're kind of really embedded in right now. What is your kind of time frame for that? Where would you like to see that you'd be at that point where you are publishing some of your findings and research and seeing that they have an implication on decisions that are made for the future?

[28:38] Rebecca: Well, next year we're hoping to get a couple of publications out for sure. We initially started this project, as I mentioned, because we were just exasperated by the lack of material out there. But then when we started, there's so much interest, there's so much like yourself, so many people who recognize this is a gap, that we've sort of gained momentum. We've got more people who want to work on the research team, think we're going to try and get some government support to boost our capacity to do this research. So we're trying to get it out starting next year and over the next few years, getting the bulk of it done, maybe in two or three years so that we can build on it then. Because I think once we've started, this trajectory of other people will join. So it becomes once you start to save all effect, yeah, we can do better than this guy. We can look at a positive trajectory at thriving, not just at the burden of menopause, and there'll be more streams of research. So we're really keen to actually get it out there so that we can build this. I must say though, there is some really great work already being done that's starting to chip away at some of these issues. Griffith and Monash so Australia is doing pretty well in this area, I think.

[30:00] Sonya: Yeah, that's good to hear.

[30:01] Rebecca: That's awesome to hear.

[30:02] Sonya: It is. And if anybody that's listening would like to find out more about the work that you're doing, all the work that is being done in this area, can you direct them to somewhere where they can find out some more information?

[30:15] Rebecca: Yeah, well they could just email me if that's okay.

[30:20] Sonya: Yeah, I can include your email address in the show notes if you're happy with that.

[30:24] Rebecca: Yeah, definitely I'm happy with that. And also maybe the Health and Well Being Research unit because as the projects unfold we have more information about them there. That would be kind of the way to do it, I think. Hopefully we'll do more. I'd like to invite myself to be part of this podcast again if possible.

[30:45] Sonya: Absolutely.

[30:46] Rebecca: Maybe over the next as we get more information. I'd love to share that with your listeners is that I'd absolutely love that.

[30:54] Sonya: That would be amazing.

[30:55] Rebecca: Yeah, I mean I think the more we can get this out there, there's an issue obviously for academics we're often called people who live in ivory towers and that is very frustrating. The best thing about this is I really think it is going to be picked up. It was going to change. Everybody is hungry for this, they really want it. And my only frustration is that we can't do it fast enough.

[31:21] Sonya: I can imagine if I was in your situation that would be my frustration as well.

[31:26] Rebecca: Just want to get out there and say, oh, look what we found. But there's obviously scientific processes to go through to make sure that we are finding the right things and we are able to say, look, this is valid and rigorous and what have you and.

[31:38] Sonya: The benefits of doing it the right way and taking your time are that the outcomes then will be so much more farreaching.

[31:45] Rebecca: Yeah, I would say that people want to participate in the research then well, obviously they can contact me. But we'll also advertise because one of the things that comes through to me is that people want to tell their story. Yeah. And sometimes that's a twofold story, it's a story about this was bad and this was good and that's exactly I mean sometimes it was just what was bad and sometimes it was just what was good. But a lot of the time it's that mixed experience and I think that's great to hear because you get this idea of, okay, look, if we can have more of this and less of that really shifting somebody's experience quite a lot.

[32:35] Sonya: Yeah, fantastic. And when you are ready to look for participants in your research, definitely keep in contact with me because I will share that bar and wide with my audience. And, yeah, because I'm with you. The more participation that we can have, the more stories that are shared, the good and the bad, the faster some of that those findings can be relayed out into the business world.

[33:01] Rebecca: Yeah, that's so true, isn't it? And I'm even thinking if women themselves can act. On this. So if it turns out that, for example, let's come back to this, having a medical practitioner visit on site, if that turns out to be something that we find that a lot of people think that that's a useful thing, women can advocate for that. They don't have to wait for organizations to make it happen. A collective of women can say, this is what we want to support us in the workplace. This is what we need. It can empower women to take those actions. They'll have evidence to show leaders to say, look, this is going to benefit you, it's going to benefit us. So please, can we have it?

[33:46] Sonya: I love that because one of the things that I talk about on this podcast so much is self advocacy. And we talk about it a lot from the aspect of getting support from primary healthcare as GPS and other specialists. But it's so important to remember that you have just as much power to advocate for yourself in the workplace as well.

[34:08] Rebecca: Yeah, I think so. But at the moment, if you're like me anyway, all you can think of is, I want time off. Because nobody's kind of said, there's some evidence that this might help, and there's some evidence that this might help. Have you thought about this? Sometimes we're a victim of that kind of what's offered by the organization really frames the way I think. So I think hoping it will be.

[34:38] Sonya: Useful anyway and even like flowing on from what you were just saying about not just bringing in the GPS, but the work that I do with women is very much around those lifestyle factors. That what we can control and we can manage. Talking about nutrition and exercise and movement and sleep and stress management, having somebody that can come into the workspace as well and hold workshops that are accessible to the employees on those sorts of topics as well can be hugely advantageous.

[35:11] Rebecca: I just so agree with you on that one. My daughter did this. Engineering. Australia. It's called Hustle program. Just fantastic women, how brilliant they are. Anyway, they gave her a book as part of it. And I can't remember the name of the book. It just went straight under my head. But it's really a book about how science has tended to use men as to test and how that has I mean, everybody knows that Volvo example, you know, where the seat belts to cause injuries to women because they were tested on men and women.

[35:45] Sonya: I don't know that story. My experience with that comes very much from being in the fitness industry and from the health world. But so I haven't heard this story of the Volvo. Share it with us.

[35:56] Rebecca: Oh, okay. Well, Volvo world leading, absolutely wonderful organization, and they're publicly sharing all of their data now, which I think is so generous too. The initial work that was done on Seatbelts was tested on Dummies that were male, dummies male. And I can't remember the figure, but it's something like women are 40% more likely to die because we are obviously different in terms of our anatomy and their seatbelt doesn't work as well for women. And this whole book is filled with this. But it's very positive in the way that it's written. And for young women like my daughter, it's really a call to say you can change the world. You can address this. Some of the things that are interesting are things like aspirin, taking aspirin as a blood therapy to help. So that apparently doesn't have a positive effect for women, certainly not in the same way it does for men.

[36:58] Sonya: That's interesting, isn't it? Yeah.

[37:02] Rebecca: So what you're talking about having advice around nutrition and diet takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that a lot of the things that are advocated broadly as useful are not as useful for women, and other things that are not advocated are useful for women. And then you've got another kind of dynamic, which is women through menopause. So maybe what you thought all along around food and diet and, I don't know, exercise and healthy habits generally could do with a bit of tweaking that will actually have a big effect on the way you work and the way you absolutely relationship.

[37:42] Sonya: Yeah. And there's a lot of evidence, and I've had different people on my podcast to talk about these topics. Our nutrition needs definitely change for a woman once she's over 40. Our exercise needs definitely change for a woman over 40. We have due to the hormone fluctuations caused by menopause that does change the needs that we have. And what we have been taught and believed in the years leading up to that is all the information that's been historically done on men. But there is such specific needs that we have over the age of 40 as a woman. And it's educating women and getting that information out there, that is part of my job. And I love the idea of them being able to take that into the workplace and just making it so accessible for employees. It would be literally game changing, I think.

[38:37] Rebecca: I really do think it would. I have a great GP, and she was saying, have your vitamin D checked. And I was like that all the time. Oh, my gosh.

[38:45] Sonya: I had that exact conversation with clients in my gym last night and it's like well, from my understanding, pretty much every Australian woman is deficient in vitamin D. Yeah.

[38:57] Rebecca: And they do say it's because we're not exposed to the sun. I myself in ignorance if there's something more going on here.

[39:05] Sonya: No, I also have heard that it's linked to the decrease or lack of micronutrients in the soil as well where our food is now growing.

[39:16] Rebecca: Right.

[39:17] Sonya: So, you know, changing environment, changing soil makeup, I guess, for want of a better expression, has changed the micronutrient makeup.

[39:28] Rebecca: Of a lot of our food, I bet there's. And the other one is cod liver oil. So my motherinlaw, she said to me, we always used to take cut liver oil. And somewhere around people forgot why they took it. I took it, and it's gross taking it. Yeah. So they're not taking it. And now they realize, wow, you didn't have any vitamin D deficiency when you're taking that. There was a reason.

[39:53] Sonya: Yes. It's really fascinating. There vitamin C. D is a great example of why women should be on a regular basis, seeing a healthcare provider that can be checking in on all of those markers. And the other one that I like to talk about a lot, so much is osteoporosis and bone density and all those things.

[40:11] Rebecca: Yeah. And yet we don't. Oh, I'm glad you're doing that. I'm so glad because my friends say, oh, that won't happen until you're 80. And they're going, well, you may not see the outward signs visibly until you are in your seventy s and eighty s, but it is happening. It is. And we're vulnerable.

[40:38] Sonya: That's right. And the work that we can do now in our forty s and I say our 40s, I'm not even in my 40s anymore. But women that are still in their 40s have the opportunity to do to future proof their bodies so that when they get into those years of their seventy s and eighty s, their bodies are so much stronger and so much healthier as a result of the work that they put in now.

[41:01] Rebecca: Yes, I totally agree with that. I would say also that there is some evidence that even though things do change, we can still build things. It might be very small, it might not be anything close to what we could do when we were in our thirty s and forty s. But we can maybe have an effect. So don't give up. I think 100% people think I can't do boat sales, yet that boat sailed. Exactly. People live long lives. Bodies have evolved over many years. It's not an automatic decline. Otherwise humans wouldn't live this long.

[41:45] Sonya: No, that's right. We can still trigger adaptation and change in our bodies. Absolutely. And we must not lose sight of that.

[41:55] Rebecca: Yeah. Absolutely.

[41:57] Sonya: Beautiful. Rebecca, I have loved our chat. We have talked about so many more things than I expected to. It's been fantastic. I like to wrap up all of my interviews with one question, and that is, please share with us what you are reading, watching or listening to right now that is bringing you joy.

[42:14] Rebecca: Okay, well, I don't know what to say here, but I tend to watch a lot of the Nordic Noir, and I watch it for a couple of reasons. I watch it because actually the subtitles help me focus. I can't be on my phone because I have to read the screen because I'm not bilingual or anything close to it. And of those, I'm trying to think of ones that I really like. There's one that begins with W. I can't remember. And I was watching a rerun of it the other day. Do you remember it? Do you know what it is? It's on ses.

[42:47] Sonya: Is it wallander or wallander is great.

[42:51] Rebecca: Yeah, no, something I don't know that one. We'll go for one of them as well. Although I think there's just so many of those fantastic shows, so that brings me a lot of joy and I.

[43:06] Sonya: Love that and I haven't thought about that before, actually. If you're reading the subtitles, you can't absentmindedly scroll on your screen or have a conversation with someone while you are totally engrossed in what you're doing. I think that's such a cool reason to watch something with subtitles.

[43:23] Rebecca: I have to I'm terrible for that, you know, and then I don't realize it, but I'm really not paying attention.

[43:30] Sonya: And before, you know, the plots moved on and you've totally lost track.

[43:32] Rebecca: Absolutely. You lose the value.

[43:36] Sonya: Excellent. Rebecca, thank you so much for sharing. You have been such a delightful guest and I can't wait to have you back so that we can talk about the advancements that you've made and where you can see everything kind of heading in the future. I think that will be a great chat to follow up with.

[43:50] Rebecca: Thank you, Sony. I've enjoyed it so much.

[43:56] Sonya: Thank you for listening today. I am so grateful to have these conversations with incredible women and experts, and I'm grateful that you chose to hit play on this episode of Dear Menopause. If you have a minute of time today, please leave a rating or a review. I would love to hear from you because you are my biggest driver for doing this work. If this chat went way too fast for you and you want more, head over to Au podcast for the show Notes. And while you're there, take my midlife quiz to see why it feels like midlife is messing with your head. You.