I want to talk a little bit about a topic that I’m trying to formulate into a possible dissertation. It’s rough- I mean *really* rough- but, like I said, I’m trying to formulate it.
I also should admit that it’s totally a selfish topic. They say you have to really be passionate about your dissertation topic. So, yeah, I’m passionate about something that has to do with me. Of course I am.
I am part of a demographic of women who waited longer than normal to have children. We worked on our careers (or in my case, floundered around getting different degrees and not finishing Ph.D.s) and then when things were stable (again, relatively, in my case), decided to have children.
These women (I’m speaking of a broader group now, not just me)(Because I can’t write a dissertation on me… but wouldn’t that be awesome if I could?) are part of academia. In many cases, they are tenure track faculty. They started their careers, then had children, then found themselves in the middle of their careers with small children. Small children are HARD to take care of. I have said many times (hopefully not so much that my boss can hear) that I would be a much better librarian- more success in the field definitely- if I didn’t have children. It is frustrating.
In academia, you don’t just show up at 8:00 and go home at 5:00. You teach your classes, you do your research, you write, you travel, But that is all so hard to do with small children. Plus, I don’t care about equality in the workplace, it’s different for mothers. Have you seen this?
Anyway, we women academics are struggling with mid-career/tenure issues while raising small children. Each of these activities on their own is a full time job that takes everything you’ve got. To try to do both- well, sometimes it feels impossible.
In her book Lean In (2013), Sheryl Sandberg says we *can* have it all. (Of course, that’s a very general paraphrase). In fact, I think I should review that book. Maybe that will be a blog post for another day. But, anyway… she does talk about the double standard that women face that men don’t. On the one hand, I think she is a feminist. With age and experience, I’ve learned that I can’t have it all. But it’s much more complicated than that. Yeah, I need to devote a blog post to this book.
So what I’m thinking is a qualitative (yes, I said qualitative) study on these women. Asking questions like:
– Do you feel you’re struggling?
– Do you feel your career is suffering because of the children?
– Do you feel like you can in fact have it all?
Of course, I would work on methodology and it would be more complicated than that, but this is something I’ve really been thinking about.
I guess we’ll see in about 2 years when I write my proposal if I’m still on this topic, or if it’s changed. Hopefully I’ll just refine it.