Leading Scots broadcaster speaks out about menopause struggles

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A LEADING broadcaster has spoken out about the struggles ageing women face while going through the menopause at work.

Dorothy Byrne, the head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, said that the stresses of having the menopause should be treated as important as pregnancy.

She argues that the subject is not talked about enough and is often avoided in the workplace, even though it affects women deeply.

She also reveals how sexism in the media is not as prevalent as it once was but that more needs to be done to help women.

Paisley-born Byrne, who is due to receive a Scottish Bafta for an Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting this weekend, revealed that she struggles to juggle her work life while caring for elderly parents and also helping teenagers cope with the stress of taking important exams.

Byrne, best known for her work as commissioning editor for documentary series, Dispatches, said: “There is one big area that needs to be spoken about, that is women get older, and the pressures they come under.

“Not all women suffer but some do, but employers don’t want to take it into account and the women just leave.

“The menopause often coincides with children doing A-levels and elderly parents – I had all those issues.

“Just as now we all take into account when women have children, there are a lot of issues for women at the other end – there is sometimes a burden but employers don’t want to talk about it.

“Sexism is still there to a certain extent but it has improved, but there are other issues where we have a way to go.”

It has been reported in the past that during her first week working at Granada, Byrne was sexually assaulted by a senior colleague who put his hand on her leg.

“He slid it up my leg and I put it right back to him,” she said.

“But imagine how disempowered I felt in that situation – I had even been warned beforehand he was going to do this, but the sense was: I knew it was going to happen, so how could I complain?

“If you ask any women who have worked in media in the last 30 years there will have been sexual assaults, being groped by men, naked men turning up at your hotel door. But I think the acceptance of that has gone to a large extent.”

Byrne believes times have changed and sexism is not as prominent as it once was.

She recalls at the beginning of her career she pitched an idea for World in Action about rape in marriage but was told by senior male colleagues that it was “not a story”.

“For them, proper stories were the CIA or nuclear power, not children going to school,” she said, “Not all men were like that…but the programme rated really well.”

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