Examining the impacts of motherhood on career-intentions and tenure for MotherScholars in STEM: A mixed methods study



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Women faculty members in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines have historically been underrepresented. They are also less likely than their colleagues in other fields to have children, making mother faculty members in STEM an even smaller, more underrepresented group. Understanding how these MotherScholars have persisted through tenure, will increase the knowledge base of MotherScholars’ success in STEM fields. This study was a convergent mixed methods case study where a case study and a survey are used to examine the expectancy, value and cost beliefs of being a MotherScholar in STEM and persisting past tenure.

A survey was used to understand similarities between MotherScholars in STEM fields and non-STEM fields. Specifically, the survey addressed personal support networks, academic work environment and career-related intentions of all MotherScholars. The case study was focused on five MotherScholars in STEM. In addition, this mixed methods study includes an understanding of the impacts of COVID-19 on tenured MotherScholars in STEM. The findings were integrated to determine that career-related encouragement from personal networks is significant; expectancy beliefs of MotherScholars are understood and expected; MotherScholars’ value beliefs about their careers is impacted by their children; their cost beliefs are significant but not surprising, and MotherScholars across disciplines have shared burdens, benefits and experiences.

Embargo status: Restricted until 06/2023. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.



MotherScholar, STEM, Mixed Methods, Case Study, Tenure, Career, COVID-19