27 May 2019

Menstruation: still a taboo at Utrecht University

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Foske van de Boogaard and Mila de Wit, anthropology students, interviewed seven PhD candidates from different faculties of science and social sciences in order to get an insight in the way menstruation related topics influence young professionals at Utrecht University in their work. They wrote about their findings in the May edition of the magazine Pandora.

What do you do when you’re suffering from, for example, bad cramps or severe PMS induced problems? Do women just suck it up and go to work regardless? Essentially, yes. As one of the interviewees put it: “At Utrecht University calling in sick based on menstruation or PMS related issues is seen as whining and is not taken seriously.” This issue of menstruation and anything related to it not being taken seriously appears to be the very basis of the taboo that surrounds it.

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Other interviewees confirm this: “Menstruation is, in the eyes of supervisors, something that may by no means stand in the way of your work.” This all ties into the greater dynamic of the high pressure to perform that many of our interviewees experienced.