Attending the 2018 ATHE Conference in Boston with colleagues from Central. Attending the 2018 ATHE Conference in Boston with colleagues from Central.

Navigating Motherhood and Academia

Since becoming a mother and returning to academic work in 2017, academic labour, scholarship and teaching, I began a project considering and asking questions about how as mothers we can survive and thrive within the neoliberal university structure. How do we navigate the new and conflicting pressures and demands on our time without falling unwittingly into even more caring responsibilities. Academic labour is potent but there are other ways of navigating, surviving and thriving in this experience. Here I share some of the practice and projects I have begun with other mothers.

The difficulties and challenges in juggling parenthood and the demands of academia is a familiar narrative. But I am not convinced how much attention we pay to the feelings that arise from the consequences of negotiating these spaces. Not articulating this struggle has resulted in little public airings to articulate these difficulties and thus this narrative has been unheard because it has been unspoken, publicly. However, the negotiation has been confessed privately, away from the academic spotlight. Working with and alongside Diana Damian Martin, we have started these conversations in different ways and spaces – a consideration of the topic emerged from the ‘Crisis in the Humanities - Surviving the Neoliberal University: Revaluing the Labour of the Performing Arts’ event we hosted at Central in December 2017 in collaboration with Professor Kim Solga, Dr Sylvan Baker and Rebecca Laughton.  Diana and I have published an article on our experiences of returning to work.

These conversations continue with discussions of ways of thriving and celebrating our new ways of working and living with a series of podcasts.