Date of Award

2018-05-20

Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chairperson; Lea Hubbard, PhD, Member; Paula Cordeiro, EdD, Member; Karen Briggs, PhD, Member

Keywords

Parent Involvement, Mommy Wars, Bullying, Indirect Aggression, Female Guardians

Abstract

Despite an increasing understanding of the importance of both parent-involvement and aggression among women, there appears to be little understanding of how these two areas influence each other; specifically, the lack of literature examining the extent to which female guardians experienced aggression from other female guardians and the effect it had on their involvement in their children’s schools. In an effort to investigate the extent to which aggression was prevalent among female guardians, the factors that influenced the aggression, and the effects of that aggression on women’s involvement in their children’s education, a convergent parallel mixed methods design was used to study female guardians living in the United States with children currently in grades K-12. The 225 survey participants and nine interviewees were recruited through snowball sampling. Closed-ended questions were analyzed quantitatively using descriptive, linear, and logistic regression analysis; open-ended questions were analyzed using in-vivo, categorical, and thematic coding.

Findings from the quantitative analysis revealed that most respondents experienced aggression from other female guardians at their children’s schools, and that being ignored, excluded and gossiped about were the most reported aggressive acts. Interestingly, variation in aggression was not associated with the demographics of the aggressor, but instead with participant demographics; specifically, Ph.D./Ed.D., Asian, politically extremely liberal and moderate. Post-aggression, 35% of women decreased their volunteer time, 8% increased it, and 57% volunteered “about the same.” Though most women reported “talking to” someone, these strategies were among the least effective.

Qualitative analysis revealed that women believed the differences in demographic and personality traits—between themselves and the aggressor—accounted for the aggression they experienced. Specifically, women believed that differences in income, race and employment most influenced aggressive experiences. School structures, cultures and individuals consistently privileged one type of parent and alienated others. Participants believed their character and knowledge were most helpful in navigating aggressive interactions with other women.

Results from this study provide insight into how aggression may affect women volunteering in their children’s schools. Understanding how women experience and navigate through this could help families, practitioners, and policy makers better support parental involvement in their children’s schools.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access

Department

Leadership Studies

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