Women Teachers' Experiences Regarding Maternal Bodies, Maternity Leave, and Returning to Work

Fairbairn, Jessica Renee
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

In 2017, I became pregnant with my first child and I became overwhelmed with questions regarding my professional and personal identity. After confiding in others, I understood that numerous women felt strong emotions regarding their pregnancies and maternity leaves. I then began to think about how women teachers are treated during, and after pregnancy and maternity leave. There is a dearth of research on women’s interpretations of pregnancy based employment discrimination and felt the need to research this topic. Despite federal, provincial, and local policies that are to protect pregnant women in the work place, I found that women are still discriminated in the work place. Using narrative inquiry as my methodology, and critical feminist theory as my theoretical framework, I conducted semi-structure interviews with four participants. Using the stories from my participants, as well as my own, I gained insights into the present situation of pregnant teachers and their experiences with their maternal body and work. Using thematic analysis to interpret the data, the emerging themes that are discussed at length are job security and policies, physical and emotional tolls, and balancing the mother and professional role. The intention of this work is not to provide a conclusive finding, but share women’s experiences in hopes that other pregnant teachers do not feel alone in their feelings as I once did, and to acknowledge and speak up for the change that is needed to create equality.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, University of Regina. vi, 89 p.