Babies Taught Me How to “Do” Academia: Crafting a Career in an Institution That Was Not Built for Mothers

  • Catherine M. Mazak
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


This chapter examines how I became a successful academic because of motherhood, not despite it. I begin by drawing on the literature about patriarchal narratives of motherhood to argue that academia resists women’s bodies. I then trace the ways in which having my three children taught me to shape my working life in a way that not only made me more productive, but also happier and less stressed. I articulate the particular lessons that having each of my three babies taught me at different stages of my career. Baby one, who came in my second year on the tenure track, taught me how to fit my workday into regular working hours, to write with focus, and to be mission-driven. My second baby taught me how to navigate burnout and care for myself. And my third baby showed me that I was skilled at managing this academic life and convinced me to help other women to navigate academia. The conclusion asserts that women academics must change academia to be created in their image through deliberate planning and self-advocacy.


Academic mothers Matrifocal narratives Parenting in academia 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine M. Mazak
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Puerto RicoMayagüezPuerto Rico

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