Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy Breen

Second Committee Member

Mary Madden

Third Committee Member

Annette Nelligan


Women in academia navigate multiple professional and personal roles, and may face unique challenges to integrate their intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual selves. The narrative of constraint underscores the disadvantages, challenges, and inequities that women who are mothers and academics face in their lives. This lack of privilege for women who are mothers in academia is most notably due to the principle male model of achievement, individualism, and ideal worker norm that continues to prevail in academia, along with traditional gender norms in society. In comparison to women in other academic disciplines, there has been little research investigating the experiences of multiple roles for women who are professors of counselor education, specifically exploring the experiences of women counselor educators with children, and how this role navigation impacts personal well-being.

This study is focused on the multiple role experiences of six tenured women counselor educators and mothers, in their own voices. Through discourse, a clearer understanding of how tenured women counselor educators at research universities perceive their multiple role navigation to impact their personal sense of well-being was explored. Also explored, were supports and barriers in this multiple role navigation, as well as strategies for managing multiple roles. This research is in alignment with Relational Cultural Theory, and care-focused feminist philosophy. A hermeneutical philosophical approach to inquiry and analysis was used to gain understanding and meaning through a collaborative process, or fusion of horizons, using dialogue between researcher and participant.

This study’s findings support conflict theory (Galinsky, 2001), enhancement theory (Ahrens & Ryff, 2006), the role quality perspective (Stephens et al., 2009; Barnett & Hyde, 2001; and Voydanoff, 2001), the dominant narrative of constraint (O’Meara, Terosky, & Neumann, 2008), and the counter-narrative of increased growth and development (O’Meara, et al., 2008). Significant implications for theory included uncovering a further distinction between the constructs of well-being and wellness. Women counselor educators with a strong sense of personal well-being, and strategies to manage multiple role navigation are better equipped to genuinely promote the well-being of their students, supervisees, and clients. Significant sources of support include: colleagues, friends, spouse or partner, and administration.

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