Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Communication, M.A.


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Jennette Lovejoy

LC Subjects

Communication in organizations; Visual communication; Women--Social Aspects


Research illustrates that a gendered imbalance inherent in social identity and power structures within organizations, typically conveyed communicatively, results in organizational inequities for working mothers. This study explores the lived experience of a broad group of working women as they negotiate both public and private identities as mother and worker. Utilizing a feminist theoretical lens (May & Mumby, 2005; Hallstein, 2015), this study assesses working women’s attitudes related to issues of workplace identity management and voice/agency concerns. One portion of the study utilizes a sub-scale of the Maternal Adjustment & Attitudes Scale (MAMA) (Kuman et al., 1984) and items constructed to assess identity negotiation related to organizational voice and agency. The second portion of the study utilizes a content analysis of three working mother Instagram accounts to analyze how working mothers choose to represent themselves publicly. Results and findings of the first portion of the study illustrate that while working women possess largely positive attitudes about their motherhood identity, it is tempered by worry about work-life balance. Size of organization was found to influence guilt experienced as a result of (re)negotiating motherhood identities and length of career establishment, and organizational role was found to potentially mediate motherhood identity communication. Results and findings of the study’s second portion illustrate that while working women publicly present an idealized version of motherhood identity on social media, they are often absent from the presentation of their public identity.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.