The aim of this study was to explore how female PhD students experience and perceive their well-being. Focus groups were conducted with female PhD students employed at a Swedish university. The study was performed using a phenomenological hermeneutic approach based on the concept of the lifeworld, used as both a philosophical perspective and a methodology. Three main themes emerged from the analysis: being true to oneself, being in the sphere of influence, and performing a balancing act. By unfolding these themes, the study shows that perceptions and experiences of well-being in female PhD students are a multifaceted phenomenon and materialize through interaction of different aspects of ‘‘self ’’ (agent) and ‘‘others’’ (structure). As well as illustrating these perceptions and experiences, the study also presents female PhD students’ conceptualization of their well-being, expressed in terms of a white-water rafting metaphor.
2014. Vol. 9, no 23059