• A Narrative Inquiry of Work-Life Balance Among Faculty Mothers in Higher Education

      Riley, Lozarie; Tift College of Education
      Despite women outnumbering men as doctoral degree recipients, women remain underrepresented in higher education leadership roles. Specifically, women at the childbearing age serving as faculty often face challenges such as inadequate maternity leave and family policies that impede pathways for tenure, promotion, and elevation to senior administration. As such, the aim of this study was to explore the work-life balance experiences related to maternity leave and/or family policies of female employees on the path to higher education leadership. To address the research questions of this study, the researcher utilized narrative inquiry to capture the stories of four faculty mothers who gave birth and took a maternity leave period while working to earn tenure. Women’s Ways of Knowing theory served as a framework to understand how participants made sense of their experience. Through core story creation, developed by Polkinghorne (1988) and further extended by Emden (1998), narrative analysis of the stories resulted in a narrative specific to each participant, as well as a narrative of the faculty mother work-life balance culture. Four themes emerged that offer recommendations to advance the faculty mother work-life balance experience: Mentorship, Support to Return to Work After Leave, Advancing Leave Policies, and Work-Life Balance. The findings of this study implied that faculty mothers are disadvantaged by the Family Medical Leave Act, while desiring the creation of university level leave policies specific to pregnancy and motherhood. Recommendations for future studies include qualitative and quantitative study designs.