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Mama, PHD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life Paperback – May 19 2008
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"An optimistic narrative of work-family balance among women with PhDs. Mama PhD gave advice about achieving a successful work-family balance in academia, presented several models of success, and left me with a more optimistic view of my chances at balancing child raising with a successful career."
Arielle Kuperberg, Womenâs Studies Quarterly
From the Inside Flap
Every year, American universities publish glowing reports stating their commitment to diversity, often showing statistics of female hires as proof of success. Yet, although women make up increasing numbers of graduate students, graduate degree recipients, and even new hires, academic life remains overwhelming a man's world. The reality that the statistics fail to highlight is that the presence of women, specifically those with children, in the ranks of tenured faculty has not increased in a generation. Further, those women who do achieve tenure track placement tend to report slow advancement, income disparity, and lack of job satisfaction compared to their male colleagues.
Amid these disadvantages, what is a Mama, PhD to do? This literary anthology brings together a selection of deeply felt personal narratives by smart, interesting women who explore the continued inequality of the sexes in higher education and suggest changes that could make universities more family-friendly workplaces.
The contributors hail from a wide array of disciplines and bring with them a variety of perspectives, including those of single and adoptive parents. They address topics that range from the level of policy to practical day-to-day concerns, including caring for a child with special needs, breastfeeding on campus, negotiating viable maternity and family leave policies, job-sharing and telecommuting options, and fitting into desk/chair combinations while eight months pregnant.
Candid, provocative, and sometimes with a wry sense of humor, the thirty-five essays in this anthology speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, as well as anyone who is interested in improving the university's ability to live up to its reputation to be among the most progressive of American institutions.See all Product Description
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And that's where this book comes in. As the Introduction explains, "With no easy solution for the struggles they encounter, women take a variety of different approaches as they attempt to reconcile family and academy." The essays anthologized are real women sharing their stories of bringing together both hemispheres, the Mama and the PhD; of women who have chosen to put one on hold for the sake of the other, and of women still deciding. They talk candidly of the difficulties and the sacrifices, and share how they've come to terms with their decisions regarding motherhood and the academy. There are stories of women who have not only not chosen, but have brought the two halves of themselves together into a whole. The last section of the book, "Momifesto", shares brighter hopes for change and a new future for the Mama, PhDs. And in the essay with the same title, women considering this balancing act will be encouraged by the compilation of ten things the authors wished they'd known.
In short, "Mama, PhD" is a necessary book for any woman considering, muddling through, or interested in the shaky balance between motherhood and the academy. And yet, while this is geared specifically for those in or through graduate school, many of the themes - balancing work, careers, and children - will ring true for women in the working world as well. It's a book where the authors write honestly of their struggles and consequent decisions, one that will make you better informed about the choices you may face (or have faced), and one that will spark plenty of discussion. But even more, it's one that will leave you encouraged, as you read the stories of those that have gone before.
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