Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Desiree Zerquera

Third Advisor

Betty Taylor


Ph.D. student mothers often face challenges when balancing their academic obligations and family responsibilities. For students with children, there is a correlation between increased family obligations and decreased productivity (Brus, 2006; Maher, Ford, & Thompson, 2004; Lynch, 2008), but academic, social, and financial support can positively impact satisfaction and progress in the Ph.D. program. Faculty advisors play a crucial role in the Ph.D. experience and can positively or negatively impact a student’s experience and productivity. The purpose of this study was to explore the academic advising and mentoring experiences of female Ph.D. students with children. This qualitative study included ten participants from social science, science, and engineering degrees. Information was gathered through semi-structured interviews with female Ph.D. students with children ages ten and under. Questions explored the expectations students had of their faculty advisors, what academic advising and mentoring behaviors assisted students’ ability to balance family and academia, and what academic advising and mentoring behaviors hindered students’ ability to balance family and academia. Tronto’s (1993) elements of an ethic of care guided emergent themes from the data analysis. The study results indicated that students’ expectations of their advisors change as they progress through the Ph.D. program. Expectations focused on financial support, communication, professional development, and recognition that students also have personal lives and responsibilities. Advising factors that impacted student experiences included advisor fit, role conflict, and department culture. Interview responses indicated that the majority of student participants were satisfied with their advising relationship, but a few respondents did experience harmful behaviors. Students who were satisfied with their mentoring experience were more likely to have advisors that displayed all of Tronto’s (1993) elements of an ethic of care. The study concluded that faculty advisors play a significant role in Ph.D. student socialization, how students experience their Ph.D. program, and a student’s academic and professional success. The data provided insight to the positive and negative impacts faculty advisors may have on the experiences of female Ph.D. students with children.