Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Mothers Movement and Mama, PhD

Here's a great conversation, among Caroline Grant, Elrena Evans, and Andrea O'Reilly, about Mama, PhD and the issues facing mother academics (and other parents, but you'll see why the focus is on mothers, I think). This is particularly pertinent to me since I've just been to (yet another) meeting about child care on campus. (No, we don't have a child care center here; yes, we are still talking about it.)

Here's a brief excerpt:

Andrea O'Reilly: I am beginning year three of a large, government-funded research project on "being a mother in the academe." I have interviewed approximately 45 women and hope to interview another 50. A central finding of my research is the pull mothers feel in trying to live up to impossible standards of perfection in both the university and in the home. As the "ideal worker," a woman has to have a book published before 35, etc. and as an ideal mother, she has to be the perfect mother, with the perfect house, perfect children… i.e., a child who reads before two and speaks two languages by age four. With the contemporary discourse of ideal motherhood, what Sharon Hays calls intensive mothering, it is impossible to be a "good" mother and "good" academic.

There's an interesting conversation about this stuff going on at 11-D as well, where I find myself taking the unusual (for me) glass-half-full position. The thing is, having given up on the "impossible standards of perfection" O'Reilly mentions above, I'm doing OK. But I do still see plenty of room for improvement.


outside voice said...

Sigh. Just...sigh.

(Btw, the word verification is "bregnate" it some portmanteau like "bromance" and if so, huh?)

Kristabelle said...

book published before 35? oh no.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on applying Bettelheim's argument for the "good enough parent" to the "good enough academic."