Motherhood, Work and the Politics of Care


Guest Editors: 

Isabella Krysa, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Vancouver, Canada
Mariana I. Paludi, Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile
Liela A. Jamjoom, Dar Al-Hekma University, Saudi Arabia
Marke Kivijärvi, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Submission Deadline: August 15th, 2022

Key words: motherhood, gendered organizations, care work, gender politics, (post) pandemic, intersectionality

Brief Summary: Aims of the Special Issue – what are the aims and how will they be met?

Since the early 1970s research on gender and organizations has theoretically and empirically discussed the relevance of studying gendering within organizations (Acker, 1990; 1992; 2000; 2012; Acker & Van Houten, 1974). Despite several decades of gender equality rhetoric and feminists’ movements, women continue to be marginalized in the labour market, especially when they become mothers (Gatrell et al., 2017). At an ideological level, the maternal body has been characterized as being incongruent to professionalism due to the increased “private” demands posed on mothers. Motherhood in organizational contexts has also been viewed as a threat to social order and control. For instance, mothers face different ideological expectations such as being the primary caretaker and prioritizing their home life over their careers (Huopalainen & Satama, 2019; Ruitenberg, 2014; Schnurr et al., 2020; Stead and Elliott, 2009). The neoliberal ideology incites women to foster a happy work-life balance and views women personally responsible for organizing competing demands (Rottenberg, 2018; Yoong, 2020). Mothers are also viewed as deviations from the masculine norms in the workplace (e.g., Gatrell and Cooper, 2016; Haynes, 2008; Hennekam et al., 2019; Schurr et al, 2020; van Amsterdam, 2015). Although commitments to family-friendly policies play important roles impacting mothers’ career advancements (Fotaki, 2013; Gatrell and Cooper, 2016), those policies vary between organizations, reifying the gendered organization and certain managerial levels.

This Special Issue call encourages thoughtful, reflexive, and critical debates on the challenges mothers face within organizational contexts. We welcome voices from different socio-cultural contexts with different conceptions and/or challenges of motherhood. It is crucial to bring in a diversity of voices to share in our collective aims of disrupting the notion of the unencumbered worker, yet highlight the idiosyncrasies that emerge from different organizations, sectors, and geo-political contexts. For example, in Nordic countries, research has illustrated the gender blindness of the seemingly gender-neutral welfare societies and addressed the continued domination of the male-worker norms and gendered positioning of working mothers (Niemistö et al., 2021; Thun, 2020). Moreover, Gupta’s (2020) research on gender inequality in Indian science professions shows that women’s marginalized access to science positions is acknowledged, and it is largely attributed to the Indian culture that places great value on women's care responsibility. 

We are also looking to understand what practices organizations developed that enable social equality for mothers. What role do organizations play in the (re)production of the current gender neutrality discourse? How can organizations create practices and set structures in place that foster inclusiveness within organizations? What opportunities can organizations find to support the sustainability of working mothers’ careers and care work? How can public policy have a positive impact on gender equality? How do discourses on care within organizations impact organizational practices? What is the role of academics, practitioners and policy makers in changing organizational practices? How does mothering entangle with work in differing socio-cultural contexts?

The COVID-19 pandemic has also amplified the intersectional nature of working mothers challenges, addressing for example the culturally bound, racialized and classed differences (Dutta, Agarwal, & Sivakami, 2020). These seem in stark contrast to some of the motherhood ideologies populating contemporary research, such as neoliberal feminism (Rottenberg, 2018), that speak broadly from the perspective of Western feminisms. Such an approach obscures the relevance of addressing the geo-political differences in care work, both theoretically and empirically. Simultaneously, there have been suggestions for the need to critically examine the devaluing of parental care within organizations. For example, Kelly and Senior (2020) call out for a feminist parental ethics to acknowledge that familial care responsibilities need to be better supported in organizations. If the role of care were put at the centre instead of “production” as an integral part of the economic system for human´s wellbeing (Bhan, Cohen, van der Meulen Rodgers, 2020), organizations cannot remain the same, nor society, nor individuals. A sense of history to the forthcoming future of organizations and work should be addressed.

In this issue, we want to engage in the discussion about the various aspects surrounding motherhood across the different geo-political locations and the role organizations play in this. We welcome theoretical papers discussing conceptual debates on motherhood, empirical research at the various levels of analysis (micro/meso/macro) and with different methodological strategies, discussing contemporary motherhood within the context of work. Review articles that synthesize existing research on motherhood and work are also welcome. What is missing and how can we recommend a fruitful path forward which expands on and/or diverges from what has already been published?

Potential, but not exclusive, paper topics could address:

  • The gendering of the organization and motherhood
  • Gendered aspects of care (masculine/feminine care, division of care-responsibility) 
  • Caring organizations (exercise of care labour, care and organizing) 
  • Organizations, care work, and motherhood
  • Care related practices
  • Legislation, regulations and policies of care
  • Work-life balance and the organization
  • Doing motherhood at work
  • Contextually situated norms for working mothers
  • Gender norms and motherhood
  • The supermom myth
  • Entrepreneurship and motherhood
  • ‘The second shift’- revisited
  • Health, organizations and motherhood
  • Covid-19, work, and motherhood
  • Intersectional motherhood
  • Indigenous motherhood

Our hope is that a particularly diverse theoretical and methodological paper selection can provoke critical discussions and bring new insights into this important topic. 

Manuscript Submission

To submit your paper for this Special Issue, please submit your manuscript through ScholarOne at: by August 15, 2022.

Manuscripts must be submitted in MS Word (.doc or .docx) format with a separate title page that includes the title of the paper, full names, affiliations, email addresses, telephone numbers, complete addresses, and biographical sketches of all authors.

All submissions must follow the APA (6th ed.) style and be between 6,000 and 8,000 words, including a 250-word abstract with 5-6 key words, all references, and notes.

Author guidelines and format for submitted manuscripts can be found on the journal's website:

The Special Issue Editors handle all manuscripts in accordance with the journal’s policies and procedures.

Please send your inquiries about the Special Issue to Guest Co-Editor Isabella Krysa ([email protected]).

The deadline for submission is August 15, 2022. Submissions are accepted starting July 15, 2022 and should be made through ScholarOne at:  Author guidelines and format for submitted manuscripts can be found on the journal's website: 


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