Higher Education Webinars

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

November 26, 2008 - 4:54am
When I was 17, I wrote an essay entitled “Why I do not want to have children.” My seemingly prescient mother saved it, along with other high school memorabilia, and when I came across the essay a few years ago I was amazed at the depth of feelings I’d developed at such a young age. The gist of the paper was that although I loved kids, I didn’t feel that I was capable of having both a family and a career, and I really wanted to focus on becoming a biologist. I pointed out that I knew many women who very successfully combined career and parenting, but I didn’t feel that I could.
November 24, 2008 - 8:56pm
Thanksgiving week offers a welcome break from the treadmill of the semester, which always seems to speed up just before it comes crashing to a halt. One day last week I spent 13 hours on campus, then returned less than 12 hours later. Feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I posted this information on my facebook page — and had almost immediate commiseration from colleagues on both coasts who found themselves in the same straits. Both are also mothers.
November 23, 2008 - 9:46pm
I am a senior at the undergraduate level, and would very much like to be a professor someday. The difficulties involved in trying to balance motherhood with graduate studies or accomplishing tenure as a professor seem excessive. I was wondering about the feasibility of the idea of taking a few years off to raise children after completing a PhD but before applying for a professorship. Did you review any information in your research concerning that situation?
November 20, 2008 - 10:01pm
This is a sad week in the life of Ursuline College, as one of our own has died. Jackie, a member of our nursing faculty since 1973, was called home Friday of last week, and our campus mourns her loss.
November 19, 2008 - 9:26pm
One of my best friends has been struggling for the last ten years to finish her dissertation. She’s brilliant, has an impeccable academic pedigree, and her graduate papers are charmingly readable. Many times I have urged her to just quit; she has an independent income, and besides, she’s so smart, she doesn’t need a PhD to prove it. Yet a combination of family pressure, guilt, and habit have propelled her onward. As Matt Groening’s early cartoon illustrates, graduate school asks you to put off your life.
November 19, 2008 - 4:59am
My daughter came home from school with a slick science fair booklet last Friday along with a homework assignment to begin initial explorations into the topic she had chosen in class: “Do different colors of light change how plants grow?” She is excited. This is her first year doing a science fair project. I’ve never done one either, and I’m impressed at how much parents are encouraged to assist with carrying it out.
November 17, 2008 - 9:10pm
A colleague, rushing out the door, popped her head into my office briefly. "You don't happen to have any secret tips on parenting 7th graders, do you?"
November 13, 2008 - 9:18pm
This is the time of the school year when many of us are running around looking for people to teach classes for us as adjunct professors. This brings back memories of the times I worked as an adjunct professor when I was in graduate school, acquiring experience as I was paid minimally for my time. Today, as chair, I see the market for adjuncts from another perspective. I want to take a minute today to discuss the economics behind the market for adjunct professors, and how this might help potential adjunct professors find the best possible position.
November 13, 2008 - 4:57am
Last night I attended a parents’-night talk on healthy eating at my daughter’s preschool. I had no intention of going; as an avid reader of books on nutrition and someone who cooks absurdly healthy meals, I knew they would be preaching to the choir. But my daughter was in a frenzy of excitement and begged that we attend the “party at school,” so I forced my husband to sit for an hour in an uncomfortable chair while two nursing students nervously lectured to 15 parents about the food pyramid.
November 12, 2008 - 5:01am
I know that my mother and mother-in-law laugh at me behind my back. After all, I’ve taken some pretty ridiculous stands in the name of feminism since my daughter was born. To my mother-in-law I implored: “Please. No pink or frills or lace. I know she’s your first granddaughter, but I want to go easy on the girly-girl stuff.” Ha! Somewhere around age two my daughter mysteriously gravitated toward ruffles, lace, and sparkles, despite my best efforts to steer her toward practical, sporty, gender-neutral clothing.

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