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UK Universities Letting Mothers Down: The Experiences of Breastfeeding Mothers in UK Universities

Gheyoh Ndzi, Ernestine, Westwood, Anjali and Maltby, Jan (2024) UK Universities Letting Mothers Down: The Experiences of Breastfeeding Mothers in UK Universities. International Journal of Law and Society, 7 (1).

10.11648.j.ijls.20240701.12.pdf - Published Version
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The research underscores the pivotal role of gendered norms in the workplace and highlights the failure of university EDIs and the Athena Swan agenda to recognise breastfeeding as an essential element contributing to gender inequality. Breastfeeding issues are investigated through the lens of workplace culture, revealing deficiencies in institutional practices and in the realm of equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) concerning the provision of work-life balance for breastfeeding mothers. This empirical investigation draws on data gathered from 35 university websites and semi-structured interviews involving 20 mothers employed in UK HEIs. The participant pool comprises eighteen academics and two professional services staff members representing 17 universities. Thematic analysis was employed to record, transcribe, and scrutinise the interview data. The findings indicate a noticeable absence of breastfeeding information and support across universities, underscored by inconsistencies in the location and specificity of information on university websites. The interview data reveal that mothers lacked sufficient information and resources pertaining to breastfeeding. Furthermore, universities do not acknowledge breastfeeding as a fundamental facet of EDI or Athena Swan plans. Notably, the study observes that the COVID-19 lockdown afforded mothers a unique opportunity to breastfeed for extended durations due to the flexibility of working from home.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ijls.20240701.12
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/9238

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