The Intersection of Motherhood and Academia During a Pandemic: A Storytelling Approach to Narrative Oral History

Authors

  • Sandra Della Porta Brock University
  • Daniella Ingrao Independent Scholar

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25071/1929-8471.96

Keywords:

mothering, academia, storytelling, reflexivity, narrative oral history

Abstract

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.

References

Adams, J. M. (2019). The value of worker well-being. Public Health Reports, 134(6), 583–586. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033354919878434

Anderson, K., Armitage, S., Jack, D., & Wittner, J. (1987). Beginning where we are: Feminist methodology in oral history. The Oral History Review, 15(1), 103–128. https://doi.org/10.1093/ohr/15.1.103

Bisaillon, L. Cattapan, A., Driessen, A., van Duin, E., Spruit, S., Anton, L., & Jecker, N. S. (2020). Doing academia differently: “I needed self-help less than I needed a fair society.” Feminist Studies, 46(1), 130-157. https://doi.org/10.15767/feministstudies.46.1.0130

Brant, J. (2014). From historical memories to contemporary visions: Honouring Indigenous maternal histories. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, 5(1), 35–52. https://jarm.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/jarm/article/view/39325

Chamberlayne, P., Bornat, J., & Wengraf, T. (Eds.) (2000) The turn to biographical methods in social science. Routledge.

Comer, D. R., & Stites-Doe, S. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of faculty women’s academic–parental role balancing. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27(3), 495–512. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-006-9021-z

Davenport, M. H., Meyer, S., Meah, V. L., Strynadka, M. C., & Khurana, R. (2020). Moms are not OK: COVID-19 and maternal mental health. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, 1, 1-6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2020.00001

Edwards, R. (1990). Connecting method and epistemology: A white women interviewing black women. Women’s Studies International Forum, 13(5), 477–490. https://doi.org/10.1016/0277-5395(90)90100-C

Edwards, R., & Ribbens, J. (1998). Living on the edges: Public knowledge, private lives, personal experience. In J. Ribbens & R. Edwards (Eds.), Feminist dilemmas in qualitative research (p. 2-23). Sage. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781849209137

Flaherty, C. (2022, January 27). More support for COVID-19–affected professors. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/01/27/more-time-grants-covid-19-impacted-stanford-professors

Government of Canada (2021). Maternity and parental leave benefits. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/starting-family/maternity-parental-leave-benefits.html

Government of Ontario (2016). Towards defining 21st century competencies for Ontario (Phase 1): Foundation document for discussion. Ontario Public Service. http://www.ontariodirectors.ca/CODE-TLF/docs/tel/21_century_appendixC_only.pdf

Haddon, J. (2018). The impact of employees’ well-being on performance in the workplace. Strategic HR Review, 17(2), 72–75. https://doi.org/10.1108/SHR-01-2018-0009

Haynes, K. (2010). Other lives in accounting: Critical reflections on oral history methodology in action. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 21(3), 221–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpa.2009.11.002

Hinton-Johnson, K. (2011). Choosing my best thing: Black motherhood and academia. In T. R. Berry & N. Mizelle (Eds.), From oppression to grace: Women of color and their dilemmas within the academy (pp. 155-167). Stylus.

Johnston, R. M., Mohammed, A., & Linden, C. van der. (2020). Evidence of exacerbated gender inequality in child care obligations in Canada and Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Politics & Gender, 16(4), 1131–1141. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1743923X20000574

Kim, S. N. (2008). Whose voice is it anyway? Rethinking the oral history method in accounting research on race, ethnicity and gender. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 19(8), 1346–1369.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. University of Toronto Press.

Leclerc, K. (2020). Caring for their Children: Impacts of COVID-19 on Parents. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00091-eng.htm

Mann, B. (2018). Femininity, shame, and redemption. Hypatia, 33(3), 402–417. https://doi.org/10.1111/hypa.12432

Moyser, M., & Burlock, A. (2018). Time use: Total work burden, unpaid work, and leisure. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-503-x/2015001/article/54931-eng.htm

Ollivier, R., Aston, Dr. M., Price, Dr. S., Sim, Dr. M., Benoit, Dr. B., Joy, Dr. P., Iduye, D., & Nassaji, N. A. (2021). Mental Health & Parental Concerns during COVID-19: The Experiences of New Mothers Amidst Social Isolation. Midwifery, 94, 102902. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2020.102902

Parker, L., Deyhle, D., Villenas, S., & Nebeker, K. C. (1998). Guest editors’ introduction: Critical race theory and qualitative studies in education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11(1), 5–6. https://doi.org/10.1080/095183998236854

Patnaik, E. (2013). Reflexivity: Situating the researcher in qualitative research. Humanities and Social Science Studies, 2, 98–106.

Pitt, J. S., Vaughn, M., Shamburger-Rousseau, A., & Harris, L. L. (2015). Black women in academia: The invisible life. In J. Martin (Ed.), Racial battle fatigue: Insights from the front lines of social justice advocacy (pp. 209-223). Praeger.

Rindfleish, J., Sheridan, A., & Kjeldal, S.-E. (2009). Creating an “agora” for storytelling as a way of challenging the gendered structures of academia. Equal Opportunities International, 28(6), 486–499. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02610150910980783

Seppala, E., Rossomando, T., & Doty, J. R. (2013). Social connection and compassion: Important predictors of health and well-being. Social Research, 80(2), 411-430.

Thambinathan, V., & Kinsella, E. A. (2021). Decolonizing methodologies in qualitative research: Creating spaces for transformative praxis. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 20, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069211014766

Tucci, S. (Writer, Executive Producer), & Manoharajah, S. (Director). (2021, February 14). Naples and the Amalfi Coast (Season 1, Episode 1) [TV series episode]. In S. Tucci (Executive Producer), Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. Raw Television.

Westkott, M. (1979). Feminist criticism of the social sciences. Harvard Educational Review, 49(4), 422–430. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.49.4.b103114415055218

Willey, N. L. (2020). Parenting policies and culture in academia and beyond: Making it while mothering (and fathering) in the academy, and what COVID-19 has to do with it. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, 201–217.

Williams, J. (2015). The Glass Ceiling and the Maternal Wall in Academia, 130, 91-105. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.1387.1845

Yan, H., Ding, Y., & Guo, W. (2020). Mental health of pregnant and postpartum women during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.617001

Downloads

Published

2022-05-02

How to Cite

Della Porta, S., & Ingrao, D. . (2022). The Intersection of Motherhood and Academia During a Pandemic: A Storytelling Approach to Narrative Oral History. INYI Journal. https://doi.org/10.25071/1929-8471.96

Issue

Section

Commentary