The fourth session of The Body of Work was on the theme of ‘menstrual cycles'. We discussed each of the elements of this experience that are often made invisible in workplace practices.
We considered together, the impact of menstrual cycles on careers and day-to-day workplace practices. In discussions, we explored issues including period poverty, menstruation and endometriosis. We discussed interactions between workplace practice and identities and how we might (re)shape organising to be more inclusive of such experiences. We also considered physical and psychological perspectives on the topics and invite reflection on how experiences can be affected by intersecting elements of social positionality.
In this session, two academic speakers; Dr Lara Owen, and Dr Victoria Williams, will contribute forms of knowledge about how the experiences of menstruation and endometriosis have an impact on how we organise work and workplaces. Further, third-sector practitioners join us as panellists to share their experiences of agitating for change.
The fourth and final session came to an end with a workshop in the afternoon, dedicated to 'embodied collaborative writing,' and led by Dr Emmanouela Mandalaki. The session explored embodied writing as a collaborative process as well as the journey of writing and publishing embodied work as an early career academic. The workshop activities sought to evoke the dynamics necessary to facilitating embodied writing. It was structured with both discussion and practical engagement and an opportunity to engage in embodied writing together.
For each session in the series, we collaborated with a performance company to develop a video resource that can be used to illustrate the content of the research themes. These creative responses to each topic are aimed toward sparking discussion, debate, and the development of inclusive workplace practices. You may wish to show these videos, and use the additional resources we have collated, in your work workplace as a way of starting discussions around the issues depicted.
Emmanouela is an Assistant Professor of Organizations and trained in arts and social sciences. In her research, she engages with (auto) ethnography heavily informed by her artistic practices (dance, painting, poetry, performative arts), which she combines with feminist thinking and creative forms of writing to explore issues of embodiment, ethics, gender, diversity, and affect, in organizations. Emmanouela’s work appears in international book volumes and academic outlets.
Dr Lara Owen is a Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews, where she is doing research on how cultural ideas surrounding menstruation influence the use of sustainable menstrual products. Her PhD (Monash Business School) studied the uptake of the menstrual cup and the menstrual workplace policy from a feminist socioeconomic perspective. Lara has worked for universities, international institutions and the third sector as a consultant and researcher on menstruation, menopause, and women’s wellbeing and rights more broadly.
Victoria is a PhD student researching the experience of endometriosis in the workplace and menstrual policy. Prior to her current research, Victoria studied at King’s College London and spent several years working as a Digital Account Director. Her challenges of living and working with endometriosis led her to become self-employed sharing talks, workshops and retreats, incorporating yoga and meditation, to support others with menstrual health conditions.