PURPOSE: Few studies have examined the relationship between working mothers and employers and the contributions of this relationship on mothers. Therefore, this dissertation explored postpartum mother’s relationship with their employers. METHODOLOGY: To gain an understanding of the experiences of working mothers, a grounded theory analysis was utilized. In-depth interviews with 31 working mothers and a transformational leadership framework assisted in understanding social change in the workplace.

FINDINGS: Positive supervisor support and a focus on motherhood facilitated return to work in contrast with lack of control over work schedule. While supportive supervisors were crucial elements for working mothers as they returned to work, the results netted an awesome unexpected finding. As women moved from being working women into the role of being working mothers the way in which they defined and experienced their identity as an employee shifted. Whereas work was once the major construct in which many of these women located their identity, the birth of their child created a different lens and produced a reconstructed identity that pushed motherhood to the top of their identity list. Consequently, work became a part of their identity within the context of motherhood, as opposed to them locating motherhood within the context of work. Hence they did not classify themselves as working mothers. Rather they conceived of themselves as mothers who worked.

CONCLUSION: Supervisors can be instrumental in transforming the culture of the workplace through their leadership. Hence, supervisors are in a position to be an additive support for working mothers by creating supportive work environments through their leadership.

LLU Discipline

Social Policy and Social Research


Social Work and Social Ecology


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Wilson, Colwick M.

Second Advisor

Baker, Winetta A.

Third Advisor

Buckles, Beverly J.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Postpartum Period--Psychology; Mothers--Employment; Grounded Theory; Interpersonal Relations

Subject - Local

Postpartum Period; Working Mothers; Grounded Theory Analysis; Transformational Leadership Framework; Positive Supervisor Support; Motherhood



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives