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Being an academic retiree: a qualitative, follow-up study of women academics in the Republic of Ireland

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-04, 11:10 authored by Mairéad Cahill, Rose GalvinRose Galvin, Judith PettigrewJudith Pettigrew

 Purpose – Retirement is a complex process that can impact daily lives and relationships. While some gender differences in academic retirement experiences have been noted, few studies have focused exclusively on women academics’ retirement experiences. This follow-up study aims to explore the meaning of retirement and its impact on retired women academics’ daily lives and relationships over time from an occupational perspective. Design/methodology/approach – Using a qualitative, longitudinal descriptive design, semi-structured interviews (n = 11) were completed with women retirees from one university and an academically linked university-level, college of education and liberal arts, in the Republic of Ireland (n = 11). This paper presents the findings of follow-up interviews conducted one year later (n = 10). Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s six?phase thematic analysis. A longitudinal analysis was then undertaken using a recurrent cross-sectional approach (Grossoehme and Lipstein, 2016) to enable discussion of changes and continuity that had occurred over time in their daily lives. Findings – The analysis yielded four themes: (i) continuing to navigate occupational identity challenges, (ii) structuring free time, (iii) appreciating health and well-being and (iv) continuing meaningful professional relationships and activities. Participants described on-going occupational identity challenges linked with contextual factors and experiences of occupational injustices of lack of recognition, lack of inclusion and a lack of choice to continue working in their paid academic employment. Originality/value – These findings suggest that occupational therapists advocate for older adults, so that meaningful choices in retirement timing can be offered to all equally and so that older people are acknowledged for their contributions to society 



Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy 50,(1) pp. 42-50


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