Working mothers' experiences & Perceptions of learning in an adult support group: The case of the working moms of Athens lean In circle
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This thesis aims to investigate the forms of learning taking place amidst working mothers who participated in an adult support group, the factors influencing this, and the impact this learning has had on them. To address the above, this study has captured the experiences and perceptions of the working mothers participating in the research. A case study approach was adopted, following an empirical qualitative research paradigm, drawing on the experiences and perceptions of its participants. A semi-structured interview approach was applied, followed by a thematic analysis of the findings. The research took place in the context of the “Working Moms of Athens Circle”, a free monthly support community that was founded in Athens and has been operating since March 2021. This support group is part of the LeanIn.Org circle network, a global non-profit initiative promoting female empowerment. To date, more than 75 working mothers have joined the “Working Moms of Athens” circle. Participating working mothers are exposed to a series of activities, seeking support while they juggle their roles as both mothers and professionals. Learning in the context of the working moms of Athens support circle was both informal and non-formal. It was unintentional, yet conscious. It was generated through planned socialization during group meetups, from the incidental sharing of information between the members through the additional communication channels, and through self-study projects that members take up, inspired by the themes shared. Although the Working Moms of Athens Lean In Circle was designed for the empowerment of women, the latter does involve learning. This learning was facilitated by different aspects, among others: by commonality, the presence of shared purpose, and the cultivation of trust. Also, routines and ceremonies found in the group process positively influenced learning. Affiliation with the global network of Lean In served as a quality standard for the group process and as an indirect enabler to learning. As findings revealed, working mothers experienced a boost in confidence and a strengthening of their self-image which contributes to their empowerment. This type of socialization influenced participants’ perspectives around work-life balance and the importance of female groups. Working mothers developed a type of internal motivation that was translated into actions taken towards the betterment of their lives.