n South African Journal of Higher Education - The doctoral degree and the professional academic identity development of female academics

Volume 29, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This longitudinal study explored the professional academic identity development of female academics before and after obtaining their doctoral degrees. The aim was to identify areas to target in order to support the development of the academics' robust professional identities. Using a narrative research approach, two female academics were interviewed repeatedly over a period of three and a half years, complemented by e-mail conversations. Symbolic interactionism and self-efficacy theory were utilised as lenses to interpret the data. The research offered three key findings. It revealed that obtaining a doctoral degree does not automatically develop the desired professional identity. The study further identified five areas to target when supporting female academics in their identity development. Self-efficacy permeated all five areas.

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