Motherhood, the Tenure Track, and Leadership

Motherhood, the Tenure Track, and Leadership

Jan Lacina
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3460-4.ch026
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The term glass ceiling became widespread with Christine Williams's article in The Wall Street Journal. She used the metaphor to describe barriers that women face in attempting to advance within corporate organizations. In the past, women were unable to reach top positions due to discrimination and gender-specific roles. More than a decade later, Williams reconsidered the glass ceiling metaphor and added the metaphor of a glass escalator to describe the challenges women face in female-dominated professions. She explained that, whether careers are female-dominated, male-dominated, or gender-balanced, men assume leadership positions at faster rates than women do. When men are hired, they are often fast tracked to leadership. Williams explained that, when men are working in female-dominated professions, their ascent into leadership roles is effortless and inevitable, just like riding an escalator. In this chapter, the author discusses challenges faced within academia.
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To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow (Angelou, p. 98).


Transition From K-12 To Higher Education

While teaching elementary school in the Dallas area, I began searching for a university to earn a master’s degree. I sought to find a program that would provide me with the research to practice knowledge that I longed for as an ESL teacher, and I sought a program that was within an hour or so of my home in the Dallas area. I was accepted into various graduate programs, but I chose a program at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas because the program offered to fund the master’s degree through a Title VII grant they held, and this grant provided mentorship opportunities to ESL classroom teachers. As I reached the completion of the program, my advisor and Chair of my treatise paper—Dr. Rudy Rodriguez—encouraged me to apply to PhD programs. I found that I loved the research/writing aspect of the graduate program, so, with his encouragement, I applied to the University of Kansas. I also applied for employment, as I needed the financial resources to attend a doctoral program. I first received an opportunity to teach ESL to international students at the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas, a job that would fund the majority of the tuition cost as well as provide me with a stipend for living expenses. Although the job was considered a Teaching Assistantship, I taught five days per week and did not assist a professor; I was the instructor of record for the college level intensive English classes. For me, the transition from K-12 was an easy transition as I continued to teach the ESL students that I loved teaching. This job provided me with an opportunity to teach international students from all around the world, and offered me the intellectual and professional engagement that I sought.

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