Welcome to the website for Mama, Ph.D: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press 2008), edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant.
Mama, Ph.D. is a literary anthology of deeply-felt personal narratives by women both in and out of the academy, writing about their experiences attempting to reconcile bodies with brains. This anthology voices stories of academic women choosing to have, not have, or delay children. The essays in this anthology speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, and make recommendations on how to make the academy a more family-friendly workplace.
Robert Drago, author of Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Life (Dollars & Sense, 2007) says, “Through the voices of those who have weathered the storm, Mama PhD fills a crucial gap in our understanding of why gender equity has been so difficult to achieve in academe. More importantly, it provides invaluable lessons for young scholars — both men and women — striving to navigate family and academic careers.”
Catherine Newman, author of Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family (Penguin, 2005) says, “All those sleepless nights and dirty diapers and baby food in your hair — where’s the discursive construction of motherhood when you need it? It’s here, in these smart, funny, poignant essays that struggle to balance mind and body, to balance body and soul.”
And Mary Ann Mason, author of Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Families and Careers (Oxford University Press, 2007) says, “This is a charming, heartfelt book that expresses the difficulties and the joys of combining a life in academia with motherhood. Each story is different, but the experiences and challenges are widely shared.”
Caroline and Elrena decided to assemble this collection because it’s the book we needed when we entered graduate school and the academic job market. We wanted to know that blending family life with life in the ivory tower might be possible; we needed to know that other women were attempting this balancing act. Those women were invisible to us then, but as we began to seek out their stories, we discovered so many women living out this very challenge. We want their stories to be told, so that other women who face these difficult choices will know that they are not alone. We hope this book will encourage and inspire these women, as they try to decide if, when, and how to balance motherhood and academic work.
Our stories will be told more fully in the book, but for now, here’s a brief look at our backgrounds. Caroline, an editor and columnist for Literary Mama, got married six weeks after earning her Ph.D, and got pregnant, two years later, the same week as finally landing a good teaching job. She thought she might attempt to balance teaching and motherhood, but over the course of her pregnancy and brief maternity leave realized that she needed to leave academia. Elrena (a contributor to Literary Mama and other publications) found out she was expecting during her second semester of Ph.D. studies, but her plans to sail blithely through her pregnancy while continuing her studies were radically altered by serious pregnancy complications. After trying to balance recovery, new motherhood, and graduate student life for a semester, she realized she needed to take a year off and rethink her commitment to the academy. Caroline and Elrena, having both left the confines of the ivory tower, are now working on this book.
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