Conflicting roles of mother and academic? Exploring the use of arts-based self-care activities to encourage wellbeing

  • Anna CohenMiller Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education
  • Denise Demers University of Central Arkansas, Health Sciences
Keywords: arts-based research, self-care, motherscholar, wellbeing, role conflict, online research

Abstract

Mothers in academia (“motherscholars”), whether faculty or doctoral students, are confronted by structures and policies often impeding promotion and movement through the academic pipeline. While research has examined these struggles, such as our own research over the last few years, this study addresses these issues from a new perspective — wellbeing. Using an arts-based participatory study, this article discusses how six motherscholars (including the authors) living in the US, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand sought to alleviate their conflicting roles of mother and academic through sharing online practices and struggles through self-care activities. Findings demonstrated how collaborative encouragement, and even pressure, to focus on self-care appeared to support participants’ daily lives in and out of academia as participants became aware of themselves as individuals, beyond being a mother or an academic. Implications suggest the importance of informal support networks (especially when formal structures do not exist) for motherscholars to reduce role conflict by encouraging wellbeing through self-care.

Author Biographies

Anna CohenMiller, Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education
 

Dr. Anna CohenMiller is an arts-based qualitative methodologist who integrates research and teaching to create community initiatives addressing issues of equity and access in higher education. She is an Assistant Professor at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education, Co-Founding Director of The Consortium of Gender Scholars (Kazakhstan), and Founder of The Motherscholar Project. Dr. CohenMiller’s forthcoming book highlights critical self-reflection for qualitative research in multicultural contexts (Routledge, 2020). 

Denise Demers, University of Central Arkansas, Health Sciences

Dr. Denise Demers is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Arkansas where she teaches in the Health Sciences Department. She has devoted the last 10 years to studying mother-students and motherscholars, focusing on personal mental health aspects such as self-care and role conflict. She also does research about institutional infrastructures that will most benefit this population.

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Published
2019-08-30