• 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.
    • Institutional Factors that Support and Impede Black Female Undergraduates at Predominantly White Institutions

      Pickens, Wanda V; Tift College of Education
      Under the direction of Dr. Olivia Boggs, Ed.D. The study addressed the persistently deficient baccalaureate degree attainment of African American females, documented by a graduation rate of 45%, compared to a national average of 65% for all women. Using phenomenological methodology, the study explored the academic, social, physical, emotional, psychological, and financial experiences of 11 Black female college alumnae who successfully completed their bachelor’s degrees at a [Predominantly White Institution (PWI)]. The depth of the inquiry allowed participants to retrospectively recall and ascribe meaning to their academic and non-academic undergraduate experiences. Each of the subjects provided insights into barriers and hindrances encountered during their undergraduate matriculation. Further, participants described experiences that facilitated, strengthened, and empowered their degree pursuits. Using theories of Black feminist thought along with a second lens of intersectionality, the study was guided by the following research question: What are the shared experiences of Black female undergraduates at predominantly white institutions that defined their lived experiences, the expectations placed upon them, and how they maneuvered through their educational journey? Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed utilizing a six-phase approach to thematic analysis. Findings revealed four themes: Non-Relatability and Non-Affirmation, Increased Self-Awareness Within PWI Spaces, Lack of Mentorship, and Retention Team. Findings further illustrated positive and negative influences of the participants’ academic, cultural, and social lived experiences. Recommendations were discussed that encompassed specific initiatives. The first initiative promoted the development of an empathetic approach design of support services specifically for Black female undergraduates. The second initiative advocated for equipping faculty and staff members who interface with Black female students regularly with the proper training they need to understand and embrace the African American culture. The third initiative involved utilizing dialogue and other tools to prevent exclusionary behaviors, policies, and stifling structures of power that hinder progress of retaining marginalized student populations. These initiatives aimed to guide university administration, faculty and staff who are committed to a transformative process to increase graduation rates for Black females matriculating at PWIs.
    • The Millennial Womanist Preacher: Transformative, Inclusive, Innovative and Balanced

      Jordan, Tierney C.; McAfee School of Theology
      This thesis project will answer the question, how has the work of millennial Womanist preachers demonstrated the expansion of Womanist preaching from the foundations laid by the foremothers of Womanist preaching? Broken down to be further explored and developed by the following sub-questions: (1) How has inclusivity influenced a millennial Womanist methodology for preaching? (2) How has technology influenced a millennial Womanist methodology for preaching? And finally, (3) How has liberative resistance influenced a millennial Womanist methodology for preaching? The primary method that will be used for conducting this research is interviews. Each participant was asked a series of questions, with the goal of curating the answers to the thesis question and sub-questions. Through the conduction of this research, the millennial Womanist preacher has been revealed as transformative in her ability to embody a radical inclusivity, to navigate a multiplicity of vocations via technology and sacred digital space, and to request liberation for herself and others through rest, ritual, and the setting of boundaries. She offers inclusivity to queer and disabled persons with the goal to envision the totality of the true beloved community. She has strategized the best ways to use technological advancements to increase the accessibility and relatability of her witness. She prioritizes her health by setting and maintaining boundaries which leave time and space for rest and the creation of rituals.