Unspoken Needs: Enabling (Aging) Women Leaders

Jennifer Leeds

Unspoken Needs: Enabling (Aging) Women Leaders with Dr. Jennifer Leeds, GPWomeN-PCCW Speaker Series held on February 23


  • Women in positions of senior leadership continue to face disproportionate challenges due to their gender, such as menopause, health concerns, and the responsibilities of caring for aging and/or ill parents.
  • Due to fears of being perceived as vulnerable, distracted, unable to keep up, obsolete, or replaceable, there is virtually no conversation around, or support systems for, these challenges, leaving female senior leaders isolated and silenced when trying to navigate such difficulties. 

This raises three questions: 

  1. How can we enable women throughout the entirety of their careers?
  2. What is holding women back from asking for help?
  3. How can the next generation “pay it forward” so that the environment will be better for all down the road?

Some suggestions for company/cultural changes would be: 

  1. Normalize menopause-in-the-workforce (just as pregnancy-in-the-workforce has been normalized in the past 50 years)
  2. Change the perception that women as caregivers (for children, parents, etc.) devalues them as capable, focused leaders
  3. Develop mentorship programs for women in their mid-or-later careers/create a culture where being vocal about these challenges is not a career-jeopardizing endeavor
  4. Offer support, even when unsolicited. Be cognizant of the cultural stigmas around aging (particularly aging women), and how that plays into the extreme gender gap at top positions of leadership, power and authority. 

For tips from other Graduate School programming, visit the Tips and Takeaways page.