Academic careers and parenting: identity, performance and surveillance

Harris, C., et al. (2019). "Academic careers and parenting: identity, performance and surveillance." Studies in Higher Education 44(4): 708-718.

This paper explores the experiences and perceptions of parent academics and their colleagues, and argues that in the absence of institutional support and guidance, self and peer assessment of academic identity in relation to performance becomes a measure against which academics assess their own academic careers and the academic careers of others. The context of the study is contemporary neoliberal academia in which competition is encouraged, driving individuals to actively self-manage their own academic careers. In-depth interviews were conducted with 32 senior lecturers and associate professors, both parents and non-parents. Three distinct social identity groups were found among the participants: those who placed parenthood ahead of their career; parents who performed 'despite' their children, and a third group of 'surveillers' of other academic parents and their careers. Perceptions of parenthood as detrimental to academic careers was enforced through these identity groups, particularly the 'surveillance' of academic parents by their colleagues.

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