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ERIC Number: ED523128
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 224
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-2875-1
Mid-Career Women Student Affairs Administrators with Young Children: Negotiating Life, Like Clockwork
Fochtman, Monica Marcelis
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
In the existing student affairs literature about career development and work-life balance, women administrators of all professional levels and women with children of all ages have been studied together. As a result, little is known about the unique rewards and challenges that result from simultaneously negotiating the different stages of motherhood and a career in student affairs administration. The purpose of the current study was to better understand the tools and strategies mid-career women used to negotiate their multiple roles and the mechanisms they used to make meaning of their experiences. The study specifically focused on mid-career professionals because the mid-career stage is a time of personal and professional convergence, especially for women. Using a qualitative research approach, multiple in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 mid-career women student affairs administrators who were also mothers to young children, infant to age five. Mid-career was defined as more than five years of professional experience, but less than 15 years. Data analyses revealed three main themes related to how women negotiated their lives as mid-career mothers. Those themes included: (1) like clockwork- the timing and alignment of multiple roles; (2) make it count- tools and strategies participants used to maximize their time; and (3) scaffolding- the support structures participants utilized to help them negotiate their multiple realities. Two themes related to why the participants chose motherhood and student affairs also emerged from the data. The women were (1) agents of their own experiences and (2) actively chose to maximize their mid-career time to help them achieve various personal and professional goals. I referred to these choices as "mid-career agency." The women were motivated to persist in student affairs administration because they saw themselves as part of a larger collective of mothers and student affairs professionals. As a result, they blazed a path for themselves, their children, their students and institutions, and for the next generation of professionals. The lived experiences of mid-career women with young children suggest that a dichotomous rendering of work-life balance is no longer useful and the national conversation about work-life balance should be re-conceptualized. Participants did not experience work-life balance; rather, they negotiated their various realities in purposeful and meaningful ways. It was the convergence of motherhood and work that made their lives challenging and rewarding In addition, findings from the current study diverge from previous renderings of mid-career as a stagnant time. The participants were not stuck at mid-career and they were not victims; they were the creators of their own experiences who chose to make the most of their mid-career positions. Findings from the study have implications for student affairs professionals at all career levels, as well as those who are parents and non-parents. Policies such as parental leave, flexible time, and compensatory time should be widely available to student affairs administrators. By example, mid-career and upper-level administrators should create an office culture where staffs are actively encouraged to utilize these policies. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A