Retaining Mothers, Inspiring Change

MOMA Award: Making Opportunities for Mothers in Academia
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We all know that being a full-time working parent is hard, but due to cultural norms and the gender wage gap, working mothers in particular often feel retaining a career in academia is next to impossible. Consider this:

Although 70 percent of male professors who achieve tenure are married with children, only 44 percent of female professors who reach the same status are married with children. This is despite the fact that the majority of doctoral degrees have been awarded to women for 8 years running. [5]

About the MOMA Award

We are all aware of the importance of hiring and retaining a diverse faculty. The above statistics highlight that mothers are often ignored in this quest. Corporate moms check Working Mother’s Top 100 Companies to Work For when job hunting. Universities should have a similar list, and this award is the beginning. Moreover, your university deserves bragging rights for the hard work it is doing to help support mothers. We want to hear about what you are doing today.

IAMAS (International Association of Maternal Action and Scholarship) wants to recognize colleges and universities that are brainstorming, initiating, and supporting campus programs that help retain faculty who are also parenting young children.  Some examples are: parental/maternal leave, offering a part-time tenure track process, on-site childcare, tolling, and breastfeeding support. This is not an exhaustive list and we would love to hear other successful ideas as well.

Importantly, IAMAS recognizes that having a policy that supports parents, and mothers more specifically, is often not enough. The critical factor is often cultivating a culture in which those that would benefit most from the designated policies feel that they will not be penalized for taking advantage of it. IAMAS wants to recognize academic institutions that are not only changing policy, but changing culture.

The following application permits you or a member of your team to flaunt the work that is happening on your campus. The questions are designed to not only find out more about the intention and success of your policies, but to also determine their ongoing efficacy.

While most programs of this ilk are aimed at parents more generally, IAMAS gives preference to programming that, even if only partially, directly supports working mothers.

To apply, please complete the attached application. [Stay tuned for new application in coming days or email Katie, see below.] Applications are due Nov 1, 2022. The top three winners will be invited to attend IAMAS’ annual conference in March 2023 with complimentary registration provided. At this conference, a member of the winning team will share with attendees the process that led your team to your successful initiative as well as receive $500 in travel reimbursement. A list of the top 3 winners will be shared in our conference brochure (near advertisements for employment section) as well as on our website and social media outlets. 

Please note that there are three categories to apply to:

1. University Award (single person or team submits application highlighting individual work that has been supported by one’s institution)

2. Changemaker Award – Faculty (single person or team who has effected change without substantial university support)

3. Changemaker Award – Student (graduate or undergraduate who has done important work on campus with or without university support)

If you have any questions, please email Dr. Katie B. Garner at We look forward to hearing about your great ideas.


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1. Wood, Jill M. “Non Tenure-Trace Academic Work.” Academic Motherhood in a Post-Second Wave Context: Challenges Strategies and Possibilities. Eds. D. Lynn O’Brien Hallstein and Andrea O’Reilly. Demeter, 2012, pp. 231-252.

2. Deryugina, Tatyana, Olga Shurchkov, and Jenna E. Stearns. “COVID-19 Disruptions Disproportionately Affect Female Academics.” National Bureau of Economic Research. Jan 2021.

3. Flaherty, Colleen. “New Data on Faculty Representation, Pay.” Inside Higher Ed. 25 March 2020.

4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say they are likely or very likely to drop out due to dependent care obligations. [4].

4. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. “Single Mothers in College: Growing Enrollment, Financial Challenges, and the Benefits of Attainment.”  Briefing Paper. Sept. 2017.

5. Mason, Mary Ann and Marc Goulden. “Mommies and Daddies on the Fast Track: Success of Parents in Demanding Professions.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 596, Nov., 2004, pp. 86-103.