Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dual-career academic couples

There's an interesting report out by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research entitled "Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know" (Schiebinger, Hernderson, & Gilmartin). The report is rather lengthy, but the authors examine data on academics and their partners, examining differences in academic positions based on gender, minorities status, sexual orientaion, occupation of the partner, and more.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, women faculty are more likely than men to be single, or to have an academic partner. On the other hand, men are much more likely to have a stay-at-home partner. However, the report also notes that many of these men are part of the older generation, having completed their graduate in the 1970s or earlier.

The demographics of faculty are changing, so it's important for universities to acknowledge that in their hiring practices, particularly in regard to dual career couples. Universities stand to lose valuable talent, particularly among under-repsresented groups, by being inflexible with regrad to couple hiring. The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • Develop a dual-career academic couple hiring protocol
  • Think of the university as an intellectual and corporate whole
  • Use dual hiring to increase gender equality
  • Budget funds for dual hiring
  • Communicate with faculty
  • Make the partner issue easier to raise
  • Interview potential partner hires
  • Negotiate partner positions fully up front
  • Develop dual-career programs
  • Collaborate with neighboring institutions
  • Evaluate dual-career programs

(hat tip: Socialogical Images)


L. Trouille said...

Thanks for posting this Hannah! I was happy to see that there's some information on same-sex couples in the document as well. There's so much more to look at though (not surprisingly!).

Here's the link to the full PDF --

zandperl said...

What about the fact that asking a person's marital status during the hiring practice is illegal? I know that as an interviewee, I never want to mention that I have a partner whom I'm planning around as that might make them less likely to offer me a position (for example, if they think that I won't take it if my partner cannot also relocate). I have known women candidates who take off their wedding/engagement ring before interviews for just this reason.

If a search committee brings up their dual-career policy during the interview, the interviewees could think they are fishing for their marital status. Maybe if a school has a policy, the best place to mention it would be in the advertisement.

Anonymous said...

Dual-career hiring is discriminatory on the basis of marital status, against single astronomers without a conjugal partner. What does conjugal-partner status have to do with equality for women in astronomy?