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The Parent Track

Timing, Balance, and Choice in Academia

Edited by Christina DeRoche & Ellie D. Berger
Subjects Family & Relationships, Education
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Paperback : 9781771122412, 296 pages, February 2017
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771122641, 296 pages, February 2017

Table of contents

On Overlaps and Bleeds: A Foreword / Amber E. Kinser
Preface: Pregnant publications pause: Pursuing motherhood and the tenure track / Elizabeth Koblyk
Introduction: Parenting as a Choice or Dilemma / Christina DeRoche and Ellie D. Berger
Part One: Foundational Narratives
Unanswered and Lingering Questions / Christina DeRoche
Work–Family Balance?: A Challenging Yet Rewarding Journey through Gendered Academia / Ellie D. Berger
Part Two: Making the Big Decision
Conversations with Women: Mothers and Academics / Erin Careless
Academia, My Mother and Me: Reflections on Intergenerational Emotional Geographies of Academic Parenting / Sara L. Jackson
Patchwork Academia / Sarah Milmine
Motherhood and Graduate Studies: The Untold Stories of Summer Residency / Melissa Corrente
I’ve Been to Me / Jennifer Barnett
Part Three: Parenting within Academia: Friend or Foe?
Fatherhood and the Ph.D.: Time Management, Perfectionism, and the Question of Value / Geoff Salomons
Going In and Coming Out: Understanding Ourselves as Mama Scholars / Lisa J. Starr and Kathleen M. Bortolin
Longing to Belong: Parenting and Self Realization within Academia / Ilka Luyt
“Dad and Mom Do Not Want to Get Zeroes”: Parenting in Academia / Mildred Tsitsi Masimira
Of Diapers and Comprehensives: A Feminist Exploration of Graduate-Student-Mothering in the Academy / Anita Jack-Davies
He Told Me Babies Sleep: Expectations and Realities about Maternity Leave Productivity / Tarah Brookfield
Legacy and Vulnerability: Queer Parenting in the Academy / Sarah R. Pickett
Surviving Parenthood and Academia: Two Professionals Striving to Maintain Work-Life Balance / Rose Ricciardelli and Stephen Czarnuch
Parent-Student, Student-Parent: A Tale of Two Roles / Kevin Black
Part Four: Ongoing Negotiation in Academia
Navigating Role Conflict in Pursuit of an Academic Career: A.k.a. “You will get used to it” / Jane E. Barker
Engaging Academia as the Nest Empties / Timothy Sibbald
Juggling Fatherhood, Child Disability, and Academia / John Beaton
Hopeful Intrusions: Moments as Both a Dad and a Professor / David Long
A Bridge Too Far? The Elephant in the Ivory Tower: Parenting and The Tenure Track / John Hoben
Baby Step by Baby Step: That Was the Way to Do It! / Michelann Parr
About the Authors


The Parent Track provides an in-depth understanding of parenting in academia, from diverse perspectives—gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation—and at different phases of a parent’s academic career. This collection not only arrives at a comprehensive understanding of parenthood and academia; it reveals the shifting ideologies surrounding the challenges of negotiating work and family balance in this context. 
Earlier research on parenting has documented the ways in which women and men experience, and subsequently negotiate, their roles as parents in the context of the workplace and the home. Particular attention has been paid to the negotiation of familial and childcare responsibilities, the division of labour, the availability of family-friendly policies, social constructions of motherhood and fatherhood, power relations, and gender roles and inequality. Studies on the experience of parenthood within the context of academia, however, have lacked diversity and failed to provide qualitative accounts from scholars of all genders at varying points in their academic careers who have, or are planning to have, children. This book addresses that gap.


If finding work-life balance in academia is, at the best of times, a stretch, then finding work-life balance as caregivers to both classrooms and children seems a near-impossibility. The essays in this collection walk the line between realism and despair, and I found myself nodding in recognition at some of the impossible demands that both family and academia place on us as individuals. I laughed at the rueful self-deprecation of the authors as they acknowledge their own failures to walk those lines well. I felt the pull of the academy’s imperative to produce alongside the affective pull of my home and the people in it. And yet, somehow, these essays brought both comfort and hope. Reading them felt both affirming and galvanizing.

- Erin Wunker, Acadia University, author of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life (2016)

The Parent Track is a generous, kind-hearted invitation to join the ongoing conversations that academics have about the strains, challenges, and triumphs that parenting brings to a scholarly life. By turns funny, sad, vulnerable, impassioned, and, perhaps above all, compassionate, the contributors to this volume offer readers personal and professional insights that we benefit from hearing. I encourage you to listen to this book’s meditations on what happens when parenting and academia collide.

- Kit Dobson, Mount Royal University, author of Transnational Canadas (WLU Press, 2009)