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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

An Introduction
May 4, 2008 - 2:52pm

It gives us great pleasure to launch the Mama, PhD blog here on Inside Higher Ed! Mama, PhD is a group blog written by seven women attempting to balance parenthood with some form of academic career, and they'll be sharing their struggles and joys here as they go. The bloggers are also all contributors to our anthology, Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life, due out this summer from Rutgers University Press.

We decided to assemble Mama, PhD because it's the book we needed when we entered graduate school and the academic job market. We wanted to know that blending family life with life in the ivory tower might be possible; we needed to know that other women were attempting this balancing act. We hope that by collecting and publishing these stories, we can encourage and inspire women as they try to decide if, when, and how to balance motherhood and academic work.

Caroline, senior editor and columnist for Literary Mama, got married six weeks after earning her PhD and got pregnant, two years later, the same week as finally landing a good teaching job. She thought she might attempt to combine teaching and motherhood, but over the course of her pregnancy and brief maternity leave realized that she needed to leave academia. Elrena, a columnist for Literary Mama, found out she was expecting during her second semester of PhD coursework, but her plans to sail blithely through her pregnancy while continuing her studies were radically altered by serious pregnancy complications. After trying to balance recovery, new motherhood, and graduate student life for a semester, she realized she needed to take a year off and rethink her commitment to the academy. For now, we work outside the confines of the ivory tower, but the issues for parents in academe still concern us both.

Our bloggers write from a variety of positions. Libby Gruner is a tenured English professor at midcareer who started her family in graduate school; her oldest child should be heading off to college in the fall. Della Fenster's a mother of three and a mathematics professor who factors her children and her work into a careful equation. Megan Pincus Kajitani offers the perspective of a former grad student and graduate career counselor, now freelancing from home as she raises a young daughter. Anjalee Deshpande Nadkarni is a professor, theatre director and single mom, transitioning from urban life to a small liberal arts college in rural Pennsylvania. And finally, Liz Stockwell, Dana Campbell and Susan Bassow write collaboratively about crafting non-traditional academic careers in the sciences while they stay home with their young children.

We're delighted to have the opportunity to broaden the scope of the work/family discussion beyond the pages of our book and into the campus arena and the blogosphere. The Mama, PhD blog on Inside Higher Ed is a terrific opportunity to spark dialogue, and hopefully encourage change. So please join the conversation!


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