Workplace challenges for women in their 40s

by Jan 25, 2024

Triple whammy for women in their 40s

Some workplace challenges for women in their 40s

There is a line that life begins at forty, but for many women, their forties is no party. Being 40 in the workplace is a tough place for women and after a certain age they quite often face a triple whammy.  They can face a range of challenges professionally and personally which impact their male colleagues less. Although not all women face all these issues, there are some common threads are worth noting.

Workplace challenges for women in their 40s are centred around three main threads:

Gendered ageism

Gender bias and ageism persist in the workplace, affecting career advancement opportunities and it kicks in with renewed intensity when women hit forty. Some women report even earlier.

Research from Diehl, Dzubinski and Stephenson suggests is that there is no mythical “prime” working age or “sweet spot” for professional women. Women under 40 in the study saw their experience and credibility dismissed because of their age, while women between 40 and 60 ― what the study considered middle age ― continued to experience gendered ageism, too. Men experience this ten or even fifteen years later.

For women balancing career aspirations with family responsibilities can be challenging, as many women may have both children or caregiving responsibilities at this stage in their lives.

In addition to workplace, responsibilities, many women juggle the demands of parenting, potentially dealing with teenage children, as well as managing other family responsibilities. The “sandwich generation” can also find themselves caring for aging parents while still raising their own families.

Living in societies which value youthfulness places additional pressure on women to feel attractive as though their voices are heard, their opinions valued. They struggle not to become invisible both socially and professionally.


Menopause Mambo 

On the list of workplace challenges for women in their 40s is the transition leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, which can also begin at this time.  This period of life can be associated with all the fun stuff associated with various hormonal and physical changes from irregular periods to weight gain. Add on mood swings, hot flushes/flashes, disturbed sleep patterns and increased vulnerability to stress you are starting to get the picture. Some women claim they also experience sleep disturbances with brain fog and memory lapses.

The impact of menopause varies widely from one woman to another. Some women observe no symptoms at all, while others have life altering experiences, so seeking support from healthcare professionals is important if you are struggling.

These symptoms come at a time when many professionals are under pressure to advance their careers.  In addition to all the work-related stress their male colleagues may also feel, women in their forties additionally have to contend with physical and mental health challenges not experienced by men.

Download: Menopause in the workplace – 3 Plus International

Empty nesting

Towards the end of their 40s if women have children in their early thirties by the time they reach the end of the decade their darling offsprings are headed for university if they are lucky.  Some women are happy to have the free time, but others mothers may experience an acute sense of loss.

An empty house can feel lonely as women try to adjust to this new situation. They might have to redefine their relationship with the child who is now a young adult heading off for a new life. If the mother has a partner their dynamic may also change without kids to focus on. Couples may need to renegotiate roles and find new shared interests.

It’s not surprising that an increasing number of couples are divorcing in their early 50s with women instigating separation processes more frequently than men

.Worth a read: Hot tips when considering a mid-life career change – 3 Plus International

A 40s strategy

A woman in her 40s may find herself navigating various aspects of life which can all come together within a short space of time. This can include career challenges, physical and mental health issues,  family and relationship adjustments plus personal development challenges.

It’s more important than ever to reassess your personal goals and priorities to make  a smooth transition through what can be a particulalry difficult and challenging time.

Do you feel like you need some career guidance for your goals and strategies?

Contact us to assess your career needs





3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Leadership and Competence Building or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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