Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Sociology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Pidi Zhang


This research examines how motherhood is viewed by women, particularly mothers, in the southeast of the United States today. The treatment of women compared to men in women's studies has been a popular topic, but there is less research on mothers. This qualitative study is designed to hear personal stories from mothers and potential mothers, both employed and unemployed, describing how they feel mothers are perceived in the southeast of the United States. Facing the overwhelming literature that describes motherhood as associated with numerous negative impacts on women’s lives, this study explores the weight of joy or the paucity of it relative to the negative impacts. This study explores what joys mothers have from having children, how they struggle to balance the pros and cons of having children, and how they make sense of motherhood. This research finds that many mothers share the idea that while motherhood is not easy and is often viewed as a burden by many members of society, the joys far outweigh the challenges for them.

Thesis Summary

As women and mothers continue to make a greater presence in the workplace, this research strives to understand women as mothers and to discover the aspects of their lives and the society that affect how mothers are perceived. While the society tends to portray children as a burden to women, particularly to those who pursue a career, it also expects people to continue having children. The interviews conducted in this research indicate that many mothers see having children as both a tremendous challenge and a more rewarding gift. Many mothers share that being a mother is an unmitigated joy.