Proving Our Maternal and Scholarly Worth: A Collaborative Autoethnographic Textual and Visual Storying of MotherScholar Identity Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Elizabeth Spradley, Sarah Leblanc, Heather K. Olson Beal, Lauren E. Burrow, Chrissy Cross

Abstract


Pivoting to remote work as female academics and to schooling our children from home as mothers in March 2020 marked a dramatic shift in how we enact our MotherScholar identities. This collaborative autoethnographic study employs a modification of interactive interviewing and photovoice to produce verbal and visual text of COVID-19 MotherScholar identity work for analysis. Thematic analysis results in themes of maternal interruptions, professional interruptions, maternal recognition, and professional recognition. Of note, our MotherScholar interactivity functioned as identity work as we sought and granted legitimacy to one another’s’ COVID-19 MotherScholar identities. Of particular concern to us is how institutions of higher education are (dis)enabling socially supportive MotherScholar interactivity during COVID-19 conditions that persist at the time of this writing and how they intend to address social support needs sustainably into the future.

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We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.