WOMEN

HuffPost Her Stories: Women Get Real About Periods At Work

Plus: What U.S. women really want.
Women in the U.S. and France talked to HuffPost about the struggles of getting their periods at work. 
Women in the U.S. and France talked to HuffPost about the struggles of getting their periods at work. 

Dear reader,

When HuffPost France reporters reached out to a small startup to learn more about its “menstrual leave” policies, no one at the company was willing to talk. “Menstrual leave brings lot of controversy,” HuffPost France’s Sandra Lorenzo said. “We figured out that periods at work were a huge taboo” — even for companies that offered support to women with debilitating periods.

So HuffPost France decided to dig deeper into the realities of periods in the workplace. The result is an in-depth series exploring everything from perceptions of menstruation policies to the period-related challenges women quietly face on the job.

“All the women we spoke to for this project were enthusiastic,” Sandra said. “They had a lot to say. We had so much material it was hard to choose.”

A YouGov/HuffPost France survey of more than 1,000 French adults helped steer the coverage and shed light on a striking generational gap. Younger adults were much more likely to support workplace accommodations for women, such as paid time off and free pads. The survey also suggested that most French adults believe there is a taboo around the topic of periods at work.

An accompanying article helps illustrate what that taboo looks like. The story features testimony from five French women about “embarrassing” and difficult period-related situations they have to navigate on the job — from washing out menstrual cups in front of co-workers to living in fear of period stains. These sorts of challenges, Sandra said, were “invisible for most of men and painful or at least something to manage for most women.”

Their stories echoed a similar report from the U.S. based on interviews with dozens of women who complained of debilitating pains and “eye-rolling” from colleagues who don’t understand. The story also noted encouraging steps some companies are taking to educate all employees about the realities of painful periods and to accommodate those in need.

Until next time,

Emily

Readers of French can see the complete “menstruation at work” series here.

 

Another survey out of the U.S. dug into women’s views on sexual harassment, life pressures and the distribution of household chores. The HuffPost/Yahoo/CARE survey of more than 1,000 women in the U.S. found that three-quarters of women see pay differences between men and women working the same job as a problem. Nearly half of women surveyed said gender pay disparity was a “serious” problem, with answers split along political lines. Only 30 percent of Republican women polled said gender discrimination is a serious problem, compared with 74 percent of Democratic women. The survey also found that millennial women are more likely than their older counterparts to see bias against powerful women and that most women in the U.S. see gender equality around the world as their shared responsibility.

 

Tessa Virtue performs with Scott Moir perform during the figure skating gala event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Tessa Virtue performs with Scott Moir perform during the figure skating gala event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Decorated Olympic figure skater Tessa Virtue spoke with HuffPost Canada about the importance of getting girls into sports. The celebrity — who is the latest addition to Mattel’s “Role Model” Barbie doll collection — explains how valuable her own athletic experience was in building her confidence at an early age. She also talks about the barriers girls often face when getting into sports, noting the tendency for girls to abandon athletics at an early age. The Women’s Sports Foundation says that by the age of 14, girls drop out of sports twice as often as boys. “Let’s face it: There’s just different access that young boys have to sport and teams than girls,” Virtue said.

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