Why midlife women are walking out, and what to do about it
by Lucy Ryan
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Pub Date 05 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 07 Sep 2023
**The People’s Book Prize 2022/23 Shortlisted Title**
There’s one group consistently ignored in most companies’ diversity strategies, but which could be your business’s secret weapon.
Professional women over 50 are faced with a triple-whammy of discrimination: they are not male, young, or linear in their career paths. As a result, they are leaving corporate life and taking their career into their own hands. And with it, they take their abundant wisdom, energy and ambition.
Drawing on new research by Dr Lucy Ryan that fills a longstanding data gap, this book shows that assumptions about declining midlife motivation and energy just aren’t true for women and reveals how you can retain and develop this invaluable talent pool with a better understanding of their challenges and a few simple changes.
Professional women have transformed our world. And women over 50 are deserving of your attention and ready to step up in your business.
Dr Lucy Ryan is a leadership coach, consultant, author and passionate advocate for women’s professional development. Her doctoral research project explored the phenomenon of midlife for professional women, a long-standing data gap, and she works with companies internationally to unlock the potential of this key talent pool.
I’d love to live in a world where this book wasn’t necessary – where women are no longer damned if they do and doomed if they don’t. This deeply researched, profoundly thoughtful book may make you angry, but more importantly, it will inspire you to explore that ‘sparkle of female genius’ that allows women to take on the world in their later years. Bravo Lucy for shining a spotlight on the growing numbers of Revolting Women! Emma Howard Boyd CBE, Former Chair of the Environment Agency, Chair of the Green Finance Institute
Our research at Cranfield University focuses on the lack of women in leadership in FTSE companies. Why are there so few women in those top executive roles? Dr Ryan supplies a compelling answer in sharing the experiences of senior women in business and the challenges they have in navigating menopause. Women don’t lose their energy or their ambition midlife, but they do need support from their companies. Arguably the kinds of changes these women would like to make to the ways they work might benefit everyone and help to foster a truly inclusive workplace! Professor Sue Vinnicombe CBE, Professor of Women & Leadership, co-author The Annual Female FTSE Board Report, Cranfield School of Management
This supremely well-researched and passionate book lifts the lid on the reality behind the story that ‘we’ve done it!’ in retaining our midlife professional women. Yes, we’re talking and doing a lot about gender parity, but there is still so much work for businesses and society to engage with – and this book should be your companion. It gave me lightbulb moments throughout, sometimes shocking, but mostly inspiring. I felt hopeful at the extent that women want to work and contribute after midlife, despite the considerable ‘blind eye’ being turned to their exit. A relevant, timely book that should be pressed into the hands of every executive, male and female alike. Claire Hughes, Commercial Director, The PHS Group
I love this book! It has questioned my beliefs as a business leader and as a woman. It has helped me better understand professional women at midlife and know I’m not the only one juggling the care of parents and children. And it has given me a lot of energy and excitement for the next phase of my career. So much to give back and, of course, so much to achieve! Cristina Nestares, CEO, UK Insurance, Admiral Group plc
Average rating from 4 members
This book is based on research in the UK but has application for the United States too. The author talked in depth to women executives to blow up the false narratives on why women leave organizations at the top of their game. Often the mythology is that women want freedom to strike out on their own or are in the "sandwich" generation and need to take care of children and aging parents. What organizations don't look at typically are the systemic challenges in organizations that keep women from achieving their potential. Even the author struggled to get sponsorship for her dissertation on this topic (and sometimes by other women!) There is a section on Menopause which is critically important and only recently has been getting focus in the news and among legislators. I encourage leaders and HR professionals to read this book to start examining the systemic barriers for women in organizations.
Thank you to Netgalley and Practical Inspiration Publishing for an ARC and I left this review voluntarily.