Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Rhonda Bishop

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Tommy Burnett


Working mothers face the challenge of balancing multiple roles while adhering to or rejecting the societal norms associated with those roles. The unique perceptions of the effects motherhood places on the working mother can shed light on the current and best practices in providing support for working women transitioning into working mothers. The purpose of this study was to identify and evaluate workplace and relationship perceptions of postpartum women employed in higher education. A qualitative, case study approach was developed and framed with three theoretical perspectives: the theory of work adjustment, role theory, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. To complete this study, 10 subjects were chosen from a Midwestern college based on the age of their children and higher education employment at the time of maternity leave. Results of this study included the emergence of six relevant themes: (a) mothers acting as superwoman, (b) fulfillment as mothers and employees, (c) inconsistency and decentralization, (d), decisions to place jobs on hold versus assigning task completion, (e) level of satisfaction based on job type, (f) strive for self-actualization, and (g) prioritization. The findings of this study were supported by previous research on the topics of work-life balance and need for social and organizational support for new mothers. Perspectives of supervisors, human resource professionals, and working fathers should be further explored in future research.


Copyright 2016