Academic Womanhood Across Career Stages: A Work-in-Life Perspective on What Was, Is, and Could Be
Community, Work, and Family,
Using the framing of narrative identity, we illustrate the asymmetry that is characteristic of faculty work lives, especially when caregiving responsibilities clash with the seemingly indestructible ideal-worker norm. Based upon life stories of a multi-generational team of women faculty, we describe the interplay of individual and institutional dynamics that affect women’s work/family choices, success, and fulfillment in academe. We juxtapose our experiences at various career stages with the institutional supports, policies, and programs we would have needed to successfully integrate lives and careers. Across career phases, we employ three naming and framing shifts essential to advancing scholarship and moving policy around work and family to one where both men and women thrive. First, we choose the language of work-in-life integration over balance. Second we use life-course as a framing for narrative identities, not pipeline. Finally, our accounts go beyond a family friendly workplace to a life friendly perspective, which allows us to draw attention to the understudied needs of faculty without children and/or immediate family caregiving responsibilities, and include faculty at later career stages. We conclude this tour-de-force through our work/lives by comparing multi-generational experiences, commenting on progress as well as remaining challenges to elucidate implications for policy, institutional culture, and a better academy.