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The becoming of worker mothers: the untold narratives of an identity transition

Garcia-Lorenzo, Lucia ORCID: 0000-0001-9166-0263, Carrasco, Lorena, Ahmed, Zehra, Morgan, Alice, Sznajder, Kim and Eggert, Leonie (2023) The becoming of worker mothers: the untold narratives of an identity transition. Gender, Work and Organization. ISSN 0968-6673

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Identification Number: 10.1111/gwao.13098


Worker mothers still struggle to find a good balance between their care and work identities. Most research on motherhood at work focuses on how organizational structures can enable professional women to find a balance between caring and work identities neglecting their personal experiences and how they understand themselves in relation to both motherhood and work. We propose to use a liminal identity work perspective to explore the identity tensions that professional women experience during their transition into motherhood and how they manage it. To explore this question, we conducted a qualitative study over 2 years with worker mothers in Latin and North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Africa. The thematic and narrative analysis of 80 individual narrative interviews shows the emergence of two coexisting identity narratives. The first narrative understands motherhood as a linear process, where women experience liminality, uncertainty, and identity loss but eventually return to work after having aggregated their new worker mother identities during maternity leaves. The second coexisting narrative challenges this linear and finite view by highlighting the transition to motherhood as a continuous, liminoid, and never-ending process. The two narratives are contextualized and managed differently according to the different cultural, historical, and social contexts where they are developed; the overall results present motherhood as a ‘liminoid’ experience that requires constant identity work to navigate the tensions emerging between potentially new and customary identities and behaviors in work contexts.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2023 14:18
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 21:09

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