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Teachers who are mothers: Perceptions of concurrent career and parenthood roles

Melva J Michaelian, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Until fairly recent history the roles of career woman and mother could not be undertaken concurrently by the majority of women, at least not while their children were young. It is, however, more the norm in modern society for working women to be actively parenting. Complications can arise as these women attempt to find a balance between their personal and professional roles. If the duties and expectations are found to be essentially the same in both venues, as they perhaps are in teaching and parenting, then the role juggling can be doubly difficult. It may also be that the familiarity of the tasks would make going from the mother role to the teacher role considerably easier. This study explores the history of the teacher/mother, the present day experience of the teacher/mother, and the perceptions these woman have concerning their two primary roles. It is the purpose of this study, using the lens of role theory, to explore the experience of teachers who are also mothers as they attempt simultaneously to tackle their roles as educators and parents. Secondary school teachers who are mothers to at least one child in school and still living in their homes were interviewed, using a phenomenological interviewing method, to determine how they perceive their roles as teachers and mothers, what importance they attach to these roles, and how they believe the two roles interact. Special attention was given to possible instances of role strain, and in particular, role conflict.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Secondary education|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Michaelian, Melva J, "Teachers who are mothers: Perceptions of concurrent career and parenthood roles" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3179905.