Tykes and Tenure: Navigating the University from the Standpoint of Faculty Mothers
Pruett, Jennifer Cathline
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the unique challenges faculty mothers face while navigating North Dakota State University (NDSU), and the implications their experiences have intra/interpersonally. Fifteen interviews were conducted and textual documents were referenced to answer the study’s research questions, which included (1) How do women faculty with children engage with university structures? and (2) How do women faculty with children negotiate between their experiences as mothers and faculty members? The women’s experiences unveiled levels of vulnerability, anxiety, and judgment with formal policy and practice, as well as spillover and tension between their work and family/home lives. How the women’s experiences influenced their sense of agency is highlighted, as well as how their agency impacted the way they socially engaged. Discussion surrounds how the institution shapes women’s everyday activities, and the strategic navigation faculty mothers participated in. Recommendations for future research and suggested applications are concluded.