Academic motherhood in times of pandemic: finding silver linings

Sun Yee Yip, Jacky-Lou Maestre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter reflects our experiences as PhD students and mothers of adolescents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We describe how our positionality as mothers has shaped our socialisation experience in graduate school and how the impact of our positionality has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our experiences highlight a disparate graduate school experience for students managing motherhood, family responsibility, and research commitment during the pandemic. We reflect on the disruptions that the pandemic has had on the different aspects of our personal and professional life priorities, including transitioning to online supervision meetings, the solitude of doing research from home, the juggling of family and children’s needs, study and work commitments, and physical and mental health concerns. While these may seem like disruptions and distractions to our research, we have discovered new insights through these experiences, and we have found some silver linings. These include seeing our research work and family life as complementary instead of in competition, the opportunity to share our research with our family members, a renewed sense of confidence to deviate from the norm in graduate school, and newfound meaning about academia, learning, and research. Finally, we provide recommendations for policy and practice including the review of graduate school expectations and support systems for students, particularly students who do not fit in the mould of young, single students who devote most of their waking hours to research. In this way, we believe academia can harness the experience and untapped potential of mature students and reimagine the graduate student experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch and Teaching in a Pandemic World
Subtitle of host publicationThe Challenges of Establishing Academic Identities During Times of Crisis
EditorsBasil Cahusac de Caux, Lynette Pretorius, Luke Macaulay
Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789811977572
ISBN (Print)9789811977565
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Academic motherhood
  • COVID-19
  • Education
  • Pandemic
  • Positionality
  • Reflexivity
  • Research
  • Teaching

Cite this