You must be superwoman! How graduate student mothers negotiate conflicting roles

Date
2014-11-26
Authors
Ellis, Erin Graybill
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Publisher
Texas Woman s University
Abstract

The lived experiences of graduate student mothers and their unique challenges in comparison to working or faculty mothers are explored through their own words utilizing the theoretical perspective of Dorothy E. Smith. Their jobs as graduate students are rarely viewed as real' work outside of academia, they face financial woes due to low pay and high student loan debt. Graduate school and motherhood have cultural expectations of a full-time commitment and these incompatible idealizations leave graduate student mothers feeling incapable of meeting the cultural expectations of being a good' mother and good' graduate student. Through in-depth, semi-structured, intensive interviews with twelve graduate student mothers, I explored how graduate student mothers negotiate conflicting roles, how their lives are shaped by cultural expectations of a good mother,' departmental, graduate school, and university policies, how they attempt to find balance, and what roles support systems play in their successes or struggles.

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Sociology
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