Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Patton O. Garriott, Ph.D.


Clinical psychology, Counseling psychology, Doctoral student, Higher education, Motherhood, Pregnancy


Given that women now earn the majority of psychology doctoral degrees in the United States (Aud et al., 2012), there needs to be consideration of unique social and systemic difficulties that women may face during their studies. One particular issue of importance is women's choice to become pregnant and start families during their graduate education. Despite the challenges of becoming pregnant during a doctoral program and balancing the roles of mother and student, there has been limited research that examines this phenomenon. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of women who become pregnant during their time in a Clinical or Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program, with specific attention paid to the intersectionality of participants' identities and how these identities may impact the experience of pregnancy. Through a feminist phenomenological approach, 14 women across the country from diverse backgrounds were interviewed by phone about their experiences of becoming pregnant during their program. Seven themes were developed from their stories: Pregnancy, Program Culture and Support, Institutional Resources, Outside Resources, Microaggressions, Identity, and Relationships between Mother and Student Roles. This study explores the stigma and discrimination faced by student mothers, the larger systemic resources for and culture around parenting in academia, and the gendered experience of parenting and the role of intersectionality. Implications of the study include guidelines for psychology departments and institutions to best meet the needs of their pregnant students and what types of resources and support are necessary for student mothers. The experiences of these women bring voice to a marginalized population in academia and can help higher education understand how to better advocate for these students to create an inclusive learning environment for all.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Kimberlee Yalango


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

264 p.


Women's studies, Psychology, Higher education