Motherhood and Science: Strategies of Work-Life Balance




work-life balance, motherhood, female professor, female researcher, university, academia, balance strategies


The article focuses on the results of a study on the work-life balance of female university teachers and researchers with minor children. The analysis is based on a qualitative study conducted in 2020 by the method of semi-structured interviews held in face-to-face and distance (via Zoom) formats. The article represents the semantic components of the balance understanding, analyzes the subjects of support, describes the schemes of the consistency of motherhood and academic work. In academia, the “working mother” strategy traditionally takes the form of limiting career ambitions and choosing a teaching track. In addition to this strategy, we found the following: “motherhood primacy”, “deferred motherhood”, “planned motherhood”, “wait-and-see motherhood”, “building boundaries between work and private life”, “overflowing the boundaries of work and private life”, “minimizing risks of the loss of qualification”, “optimization of working conditions ”,“ distribution/delegation of responsibilities", "mentoring”.

The article concludes that the work-life balance strategies are of a personal nature — the need to prioritize, reduce the requirements for meeting the ideal, the need for tough timing. At the same time, these strategies reflect external support opportunities, such as helping from the family, using a maternity leave tailored to individual needs, outsourcing certain types of activities, and mentoring. Flexible working regime has been evaluated ambiguously — it is often perceived as a barrier to productive work.

Author Biography

Kseniya S. Tarakanovskaya, HSE University

  • HSE University, Moscow, Russia
    • Post-Graduate Student
  • Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) , Moscow, Russia
    • Research Manager