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ERIC Number: ED563155
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 250
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-8847-4
"This Has Been My Life's Work": A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Doctoral Student Mothers in Higher Education and Their Quest for Social Justice
Pement, Nancy-Jean M.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, California Lutheran University
The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of doctoral student mothers pursuing doctorates in higher education as well as the meanings ascribed to the doctorate. This study was guided by Rich's (1976) notion of motherhood as experience and as institution held in tension with postmodernism's interest in discourse and difference. As such, it attempted to fulfill Cixous' (1976) call to action that "(w)oman must put herself into the text--as into the world and into history--by her own movement" (p. 875). Increasingly, women are overrepresented among doctoral recipients in higher education. As more women with dependent children enroll in doctoral programs (Anderson & Mietzitis, 1999) it behooves institutions to recognize mothers' needs and interests. Utilizing data from 16 semi-structured interviews with participants at five universities in the Pacific Rim region, this study considered women's experiences in the context of ideological and structural imperatives. Participants also explored the significance of the doctorate. The data confirm that the lives of doctoral student mothers are deeply enmeshed with those of their children. They identify as lifelong learners, and consistent with Lynch (2008), most women did not acknowledge the structural constraints that have implications for their lived realities. Surprising findings include narratives regarding the role of their fathers as sources of inspiration, and representations of the doctorate as an extension of student mothers' commitment to advance social justice on behalf of other people's children. Finally, two WEpoems are offered as a means to (re)present the data and to further infuse the study with the voices of participants. Recommendations for policy, programs and further research are also offered. [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; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A