Inspired by my doctoral work (at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec) with thirty-nine late-entry women in academia all across Canada, I have created and illustrated this web site, Echoes of Late-Entry Women in Academia.
These women and I celebrate the pride we experience from our accomplishments as doctoral students. The images and words also reveal some of the barriers we have had to break down to realize our goals. The research was positioned within qualitative research methods, namely, Narrative Inquiry - including photovoice, narrative writing workshop and individual interviews. These methods were aimed at helping us articulate what is helpful to our success and acceptance in the university. Women who have completed their studies as late-entry women, as well as women who are currently studying have participated in this project.
Through sharing the women’s thoughts and images on this website, I hope to draw attention to some of the common threads that ran through the 39 interviews I held over the last two years. Among the themes that surfaced again and again were the benefits of age, as well as the challenges of aging. Many women spoke of instances of the lack of confidence they feel and of the uncertain futures they face. All were keen to mention the support they enjoyed. Some were tired of the constant need to defend or explain their reasons for returning to study at a later stage in life. Some women spoke of the effects of their upbringing. Often their relationships with their mothers held an important place in how they saw themselves in the academic world. For my part, I considered what I learned from a young age of the importance of women sharing their thoughts with each other from my own mother's group of friends. The neighbourhood women would gather monthly at each other's homes. When they met up at my home, their lively conversations and their loud laughter helped me to learn early in life that women often find strength, encouragement and solace through their friendships with other women. Indeed, as I made my way through my research I was constantly encouraged by the kind and caring women I met along the way. Now, I invite you to hear some of these women's stories. It has been a real honour and a pleasure for me to be a part of their doctoral journeys.