Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Johanna S. Hunsaker, PhD, Director; Lee Williams, PhD; Anne Hendershott, PhD


narrative, parents & parenting, qualitative, spouses, University of San Diego’s Business School, University of San Diego’s Law School, women, working mothers


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the lives of working mothers. The dramatic increase of mothers in the workforce in the past 40 years has led to an increasingly common lifestyle: women filling the roles of mother and professional concurrently. This dissertation used the personal narrative qualitative methodology to examine the lives of working mothers. Ten female graduates of the University of San Diego's Law School (JD), Business School (MBA) and Educational Administration Programs were interviewed by the researcher. These women have been in the workplace for an extended period of time, are currently raising at least one child in their home, and live in San Diego County. The interviews touched on topics such as: the changes parenthood caused in the women's career, the experiences the interviewees had with discrimination, the influences the media portrayal of working mothers had on their chosen lifestyle and any particularly satisfying or regretful decisions the women interviewees made in blending work and family. Through an analysis of the interviewee's personal narratives, themes were sought out and used as generative guides for finding meaning in the interviews of the working mothers. These themes formed the organizing framework for the study results. Ten themes emerged from the interviews with the women which then fit into three overarching categories. The three categories are Formative Influences, Making it Work, and Looking Back. A second analysis of the interview data described the benefits and challenges of the working mother lifestyle, as well as specific balancing strategies used by the women in the study. In addition, the change in identity from a full time professional to a working mother was described by the interviewees. The findings of the study showed that the 10 working mothers interviewed have created a satisfactory balance between their professional and family lives. They depend upon the support of their spouses and others to meet all the demands of this lifestyle. Several potential areas for future research are reviewed.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access