Date of Conferral







Melody Richardson


Mothers who leave the workforce to raise children may face personal and professional difficulties when returning. There was a lack of qualitative research on what these women experience in their return to work. The purpose of this study was to discover and describe how a mother in a professional or managerial position experiences a return to the workforce after a hiatus of 2 or more years to raise children. The philosophy of Husserl and the methodology of Moustakas guided this transcendental phenomenological study. Through purposive snowball sampling, 12 women participated in semistructured interviews. Data analysis followed the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method leading to a synthesis of participants' lived experiences. Key findings of the essence of the experience were identified in 6 major themes: deciding to return, changing career path, changes in the workplace, feelings upon return, changes at home, and reflections. Social change implications include heightening awareness among women and their families about the process of returning to work after leaving a professional job to care for children. Policymakers may benefit from the information to support mothers' efforts to return to work after a child-rearing hiatus through programs designed to support the reentry of mothers to the professional workplace. Life and career coaches may use findings to prepare women for the reentry process.