Women’s Studies Quarterly

Fall/Winter 2009

“…Mama, PhD gave advice about achieving a successful work-family balance in academia, presented several models of success, and left me with a more optimistic view of my chances at balancing child raising with a successful career. I would recommend Mama, PhD to my sisters in academia who are also contemplating having children and wondering how they will make it all work.”~~Arielle Kuperberg

Feminist Teacher

Volume 20, Number 1

Mama, PhD stands out in its ability to blend testimony, analysis, and advocacy, from a variety of perspectives. It walks the academic-nonacademic line with striking effect, blending vividly rendered physiological detail (frenzied schedules, leaking bodies) with textual and social analysis.”~~Alyson Bardsley

Feminist Review

April 2009

“But make no mistake: this collection is an unequivocal critique of the infrastructure—or lack thereof—in place for women who want to explore their identities as both mothers and intellectuals. The joint essay “Nontraditional Academics” issues a call for women who leave the academy temporarily or permanently to pursue their interest in full-time motherhood to stop hiding and join forces to build a community and increase visibility. While Mama PhD is certainly aimed for women in academia—and the men, women, and children who love them—those readers interested in feminist issues in the world of work will also find this collection a compelling and provocative read.”~Heather Brown


February 2009

“Fortunately, while Mama, PhD has many stories like mine, reading about others’ experiences made me feel (well, duh!) less alone. It also made me remember a few things. For one, I’ve been lucky enough to have department chairs who wholeheartedly support working parents with their words (“Bring that baby in!”) and their actions (“Sure, we can pay for a sub to cover your classes those weeks you’ll be recovering from a c-section.”) Many of the women whose essays are in this book don’t have that kind of support, and the consequences are often dramatic.”~Amy Anderson

Literary Mama

February 2009

“My first reaction to Mama, PhD, a provocative collection of 35 personal essays and commentaries by 42 women about motherhood and academic life, was a powerful desire to do just what I’ve begun to do here: tell my own story. Edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant, the book features deeply personal and engaging essays that bring to life many facets of this topic: the internal fracturing that comes with considering whether or not to have a child, vivid descriptions of the body’s blossoming during pregnancy, poignant accounts of how it feels to be sidelined by insensitive comments, the heartbreak of leaving one’s child in someone else’s care, the infamous fog of Mommy Brain. In addition, much of the writing is peppered with winsome humor, including laugh-out-loud descriptions of wedging a pregnant body into a desk-chair combination of the type that graces most university classrooms (Evans) or of fielding potential names for a baby from mostly male undergraduates (Sheila Squillante).”~Esther Wyss-Flamm

Ms. Magazine

Winter 2009

“Thirty-five moms with Ph.D’s share the experience of raising children in the inhospitable environment of the academy. The final section is a “momifesto” exhorting universities and colleges to change their practices; otherwise they’ll lose mothers as professors.”

Girl w/Pen

January 9, 2009

“The contributors in this book, edited by Caroline Grant and Elrena Evans, break the seal of silence that suppresses the intense difficulties and institutionalized prejudice that academics who want to be more than just a “head on a stick” – but rather a whole person, including a maternal body – experience. And the pressures that result for women as their likely prime childbearing years meet squarely with the ticking of the tenure clock is intense. The book’s contributors, from a range of academic fields and even generations, outline in often poignant and sometimes excruciating detail how they are forced to choose between career and family, or find creative, often exhausting, and most likely just plain lucky ways to tie the two together.” ~Elline Lipkin


Winter 2009

“For those who are not on the professor/mommy path, the punchy, short essays are nonetheless interesting reads. Outcasts are torn between fitting in and dropping out. Outsiders defiantly dispel unhelpful myths. Women contemplate the achievements of their mothers while worrying about how their choices will shape the lives of their daughters. The elite are brought down a notch, but find themselves a little more savvy as a result.” ~Katura Reynolds

Mommy Track’d

December 2008

“Honest, funny, frustrated, provocative, and, yes, in love with their work, these writers don’t claim that their experience in the academy is more difficult than any other working mother’s. In fact, their suggestions for making the academy more congenial and their argument that doing so will improve its racial and social diversity, make good models for every workplace.” ~Jo Keroes

Literary Mama

October 2008

“Thank goodness that Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant’s book begins to outline a new path. This collection of essays by women trying to navigate the ‘gentlemanly field’ of academia may be the first step toward addressing the ‘ivory ceiling.’” ~Terry Dolson

Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers

Fall 2008

“The essays in this anthology provide ample proof that the United States’ institutions of higher learning have pitifully outdated maternity policies, and their attitudes toward pregnant women and new mothers often exhibit denial and resentment…a few well-known universities are beginning to adopt policies ‘supporting women graduate students during pregnancy and early motherhood.’ Let’s hope others will follow.” ~Elizabeth Roca

Pulteney Street Survey

Fall 2008

“The anthology on academic and family issues offers advice and support for women attempting to combine their careers in academia with their growing families. The book has even inspired a blog of the same name, maintained by many of the book’s contributors, on Inside Higher Ed’s Web site.” ~Melissa Sue Sorrells

The Penn Stater

September/October 2008

“Contributors offer first-person takes on institutionalized sexism, the obstacle-laden tenure track, and family-leave policies that are outdated or nonexistent. The book’s introduction promises humor and hope mixed with harsh criticism of a field that ‘lags behind more market-driven industries in providing support for workers with children.’”

Women in Higher Education

August 2008

“Neither a guidebook nor a critique, this set of 35 personal narratives has the feel of thoughtful, refl ective friends sitting at the kitchen table comparing notes. They probe their successes and failures, fears and desires, frustration and ambivalence. They’re open about the messiness of trying to combine motherhood with an academic career. Their stories are diverse. Some rose to academic prominence, some chose lower-prestige or part-time positions
and some left higher education. Some are still mid-journey or torn about whether to start a family. ~SGC

MotherTalk Blog Book Tour

August 2008

Bluemilk says, “By the time you finish Mama PhD you will know one thing with absolute certainty, the patriarchy is an extraordinarily wasteful way of organising society! Because what country, and certainly what university can afford to squander human capital in such a fashion – to obstruct, deny, and ultimately chase highly educated and talented women from out of its ranks?”

Compost Happens says, “The contributors to Mama, PhD write with clarity and passion. Essays are easy to follow, and despite (or perhaps due to) the advanced degrees of the writers, easy to understand. Emotions are never far below the surface; readers will feel the pain and the divisiveness the writers encounter.”

Wavybrains says, “I loved that a wide range of disiplines, ages, geography, and experiences are represented by the essays. The women representing the sciences, psychology, economics, and history add a depth to the conversation, one that I’m not sure could be achieved in a book of MFA’s and English PhD’s. Consequently, I would make this book a must-read and a must-gift for any woman contemplating or living with a graduate degree.”

Peter’s Cross Station says, “And I feel torn about it. I would have felt guilty doing the writing and now I feel guilty because I didn’t. Enter the book that speaks to all of that and more. If I can’t join them, I can at least nod frantically in agreement and sympathy as I read about mothers who feel they have to keep pregnancies a secret and pretend their children don’t exist to maintain the respect of their colleagues.”

PCOS Baby says, “It was a very open, sometimes brutally frank, look at the academy and essentially how it fails women who want to also have a family. And yes, some of the contributors talk about how it also fails men who want to have a family—but they also make the point that men are not responsible for the physical demands of both pregnancy, birth, and nursing a baby. Many of the essays made me feel very…well, vindicated in my career choice is probably the best way to say it.”

Life in the Hundred-Acre Wood says, “In many ways, reading this book is a little like going back in time: It seems that the most astute and learned members of our society — who can cure diseases, quote hundreds of years of literature, and theorize about math equations ten pages long – don’t know how to treat mothers in academia. And that while terms like parental leave, flexible schedules, and on-site daycare, are slowly becoming a part of the conversation at some work places, they are a foreign language at many of our most progressive academic institutions.”

Here We Go Again says, “I did like getting a glimpse into the women’s personal lives. I’ve always enjoyed personal stories, about people’s jobs and families. This is probably why I like blogging and blog reading so much. It was interesting to read about the different ways that these women found to deal with newborns and dissertations at the same time.”

21st Centuty Mom says, “I’ll be sending this book to my oldest daughter soon with instructions to send it to her little sister when she’s done. I hope they draw the same message from the book as did I. The world really can be your oyster as long as you can manage your time and your detractors and focus on your goals.”

ReadingWritingLiving says, “I gave birth to my second child a week after waddling across a hot stage to receive my master’s degree in writing. Many of my classmates were on to doctoral programs, but I felt I was at the end of my particular line. So it was with a mixture of envy, regret and relief that I read this collection; reading of the intense sacrifices of mixing a life of academy + family.”

Black Belt Mama says, “At times, these essays enraged me… women who are mothers, the world’s best multi-taskers, are made to feel like failures because they choose to procreate. At times these essays inspired me…hearing the tales of those who have done it, who have laughed in the face of these archaic institutions and said, ’screw you!’ At times, it just made me sad that there even has to be this discussion.”

Fictionary says, “This anthology voices stories of academic women choosing to have, not have, or delay children. The essays in this anthology will speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, and will make recommendations on how to make the academy a more family-friendly workplace.”

Crunchy Granola says, “They were definitely compelling, though. I read quickly, learning about the different ways institutions create barriers for mothers advancing in their careers, or make it easier for those with children to advance. These are eloquent accounts of what choices women have made to accommodate their kids and careers.”

They Grow in Your Heart says, “And it’s funny, because the day Mama PhD arrived, I had spend three pointless hours at a meeting at the university where my superior taught me how to use email. Yep. Email. Three hours away from home, away from my daughter for no purpose. Needless to say, I feel a deep kinship to many of the essayists who submitted to Mama PhD.”

Tales from the Diaper Pail says, “Being an ‘older’ student at the age of 29, I sought the counsel of two female professors. These conversations, stories of inequitable treatment and feelings of inadequacy in both the personal and professional arena, ultimately shaped my decision to forgo this pursuit. I found reflected in the pages of this book the conversations I had over coffee with two women I so respected and admired.”

Third Culture Mama says, “We, professors included, never discussed motherhod beyond our right to be defined as more than just mothers or potential mothers, to be defined beyond the family unit. Of course I didn’t notice any of the latter until I got pregnant. Mama, PhD hit so close to home.”

Mama(e) in Translation says, “I felt mightily comforted to read about the experiences of the three authors, Susan Bassow, Dana Campbell, and Liz Stockwell, and I can’t wait to participate in the website and resource for NTA (nontraditional academic) parents that they are planning to set up!”

Review Planet says, “That’s why I’m in love with the new book Mama, Ph.D. It’s a collection of stories from academic mamas who lay bare their souls about the hard times, the good parts, the special challenges (pumping in a maintenance closet — and then the dean walks in!), and why it’s all worthwhile. I think it’s also a good casebook of the situation today in many departments, and I hope that it will be used by someone or somegroup to start making changes. I hope.”

Writing in the Mountains says, “In reading this book, it is painfully clear that something needs to be done to close the inequality gap and open up opportunities for fair pay, support in childcare and plain respect.”

Everyday Stranger says, “Like the women in the book, I often feel as though I have a choice – my attention to my kids or my attention to where I’m going. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on both. Other times – like when the pox came – not so much. I’m aware that as a woman and a mother, I’m now stagnating in my career. In fact, I’m not just stagnating, I’m moving downward in the black hole in our organization.”

Lastly, Viva La Feminista says, “That said, most of the essays are hopeful. Mama PhDs who thought that the flexible schedule of an academic would make motherhood easier than for someone with a 9-5 job but soon realized that the pressure to write a book and change diapers was far different. Mama PhDs who worried endlessly that the time they spent away from their children and the travel required made them bad mamas only to have their children tell them otherwise.”

On Campus With Women

Vol 37, Issue 1

“Editors Evans and Grant have compiled an engrossing collection of essays by women who have negotiated the complex challenges of parenting while pursuing an academic career. Speaking from a range of perspectives (across disciplines, geographical locations, and stages of both career and motherhood), contributing authors paint a vivid scene of the daily choices that constitute academic motherhood’s lifelong balancing act.”

Author Magazine

July 2008

“You would imagine that a university teaching position would be the perfect job for a new mother to have. After all, professors really only ‘work’ (lecture) a few hours a week, and aren’t all colleges at the forefront of progressivism with flextime, health insurance, and maybe even lactation stations? This collection of three dozen short essays (ending in a couple of ‘Momifestos’) paints an entirely different picture: one in which academe has yet to fully adjust to having women present at all, let alone those with interests and responsibilities outside the ivory tower.” ~Kevin Lauderdale


June 2008

“This is easily the most important piece of work to date on academics and family issues, full-stop, because the editors draw out from the authors all of the messiness, the highs and lows, the fears and hopes, the pride, guilt, anger, love and sense of failure and accomplishment and mainly great stories that comprise life for so many moms who try to make it as academics.” ~Bob Drago

eGrad: University of California Berkeley

April 2008

“Up on the web — it’s a site, it’s a blog, it’s a book! Mainly, at the moment, it’s (almost) a book. It just happens to have the regulation 21st–century promotional bells and whistles, so it’s an instant community, and not a tiny one at that.”

Early praise for Mama, PhD:

“Well-written, personal, insightful and engaging, Mama, PhD gives an accurate glimpse into the feelings and conflicts that mothers in academia don’t often reveal because such disclosure is felt to be unprofessional.”–Karen V. Hansen, author of Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care

“All those sleepless nights and dirty diapers and baby food in your hair–where’s the discursive construction of motherhood when you need it? It’s here, in these smart, funny, poignant essays that struggle to balance mind and body, to balance body and soul.”–Catherine Newman, PhD, author of Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family

“This is a charming, heartfelt book that expresses the difficulties and the joys of combining a life in academia with motherhood. Each story is different, but the experiences and challenges are widely shared.”–Mary Ann Mason, author of Mothers on the Fast Track: How a New Generation Can Balance Families and Careers

“I wish I had this book in the late 1970s when I was a young untenured professor trying to teach five sections of composition and raise a new (adopted) baby. The tales in Mama PhD could have served as a virtual consciousness raising group for me as I toiled away in academia. Happily the book is available today for women trying to balance the pulls of motherhood and career.”–Nan Bauer-Maglin, author of Cut Loose: (Mostly) Older Women Talk about the End of (Mostly) Long-term Relationships