The Intersection of Motherhood and Academia During a Pandemic: A Storytelling Approach to Narrative Oral History
Keywords:mothering, academia, storytelling, reflexivity, narrative oral history
This paper takes a storytelling approach to narrative oral history using reflexivity as analysis, making meaning through social engagement between co-authors, friends, family, and colleagues. The story presents the first author's lived experience as a mother and academic, both journeys at their peak as the pandemic loomed closer to and arrived in Canada. These journeys and their intersection are presented in chronological order, detailing the stressors and struggles of mothering in academia during a pandemic. The second author played an integral role in telling this story, by drawing out the narrative through an open-ended interview. Reflexive thoughts, authentic accounts, and interview quotes are embedded throughout conveying lived experience, feelings, and concerns. The paper magnifies structural gender inequality in academia by sharing struggles, such as loss of opportunity for scholarly contributions, pregnancy secrecy and career advancement anxieties, the reality of maternity “leave” in academia, and accounts of personal support and lack of professional support. We hope this piece gives mothers in academia comfort in knowing they are not alone in work-life challenges, encourages women in similar positions to share their stories, opens the academic world to these lived realities, and inspires equity-informed change for the good of mothers and academia.
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