Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Queering Academia: Queer Faculty Mothers and Work-Family Enrichment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Ellen Broido (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Sarah Rainey (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Nicholas Bowman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Christina Lunceford (Committee Member)


The purpose of this multiple case narrative study was to understand the experiences of queer (i.e., lesbian, queer, gay) faculty mothers who simultaneously navigated motherhood and academia. Work-family enrichment and queering (queer as a verb, informed by queer theory) were the frameworks for this study.

I conducted individual in-depth, semi-structured interviews with seven tenured queer mothers who were also faculty members from doctoral universities. I then constructed participants' narratives by analyzing the data to reveal narrative themes and restorying participants' transcripts focusing on the three-dimensional inquiry space: interaction, continuity, and situation as well as the interrelated tensions: temporality, people, action, certainty, and context. I analyzed narratives specifically considering work-family enrichment aspects of roles, resources, and transfers of those resources as well as for additional emergent codes and themes.

From the data, several themes emerged that described the experiences of queer faculty mothers. First, I present findings related to work climate, including as it related to sexual orientation, parenting roles, and tenure and promotion. Next, participants’ support systems included colleagues, partners, and students. Third, participants’ well-being benefitted from four primary ways in which work and family roles enrich one another that contributed to their enhanced well-being: their ability to prioritize, attempts to balance roles, enjoyment, and commitment to social justice. Finally, participants experienced work-family enrichment. Of the five categories of resources, each was generated and transferred by at least four participants (flexibility – seven participants, skills and perspectives – six participants, social capital – five participants, material resources – four participants, and psychological and physical resources – four participants).

I conclude with several implications for practice and research. Department chairs, administrators, and colleagues should employ an individualized approach, support early-career queer faculty mothers, encourage work-family balance and enrichment of queer faculty mothers, and address institutional biases. Implications for future research are to include people not represented, delve deeper into paths for work-family enrichment resource transferal, focus on issues queer faculty mothers needed support regarding and what forms of support were most beneficial, more accurately examine success, and look into the pervasiveness of internalized oppression among queer faculty mothers.