Romantic Partners and Academics

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Historiann has an interesting post entitled: “Marrying up,”and why that could screw up your career in which she notes:

There’s a new report out on the careers of social scientists, via Inside Higher Ed. The University of Washington Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education has published a report based on survey data from people trained in anthropology, communication, geography, history, political science and sociology.   (See the full report here.   Oddly, for the purposes of this report, history is a”social science,”but economics is not.   Wev.    I wonder if econ would have skewed the data because it is still hugely male dominated?)

And she considers the findings, which she asserts support a conclusion that ” Women, much more often than men, are in marriages that don’t privilege their career tracks.” Men’s and women’s academic careers start off relatively equally, but 6 to 10 years out, men are more likely to have tenure or jobs outside of academe (generally with higher salaries than those for professors) and women are more likely to have jobs off the tenure track.

Meanwhile over at The Faculty Lounge, Laura Applemen observes:

A new study by Stanford’s Institute for Gender Research has found that 36% of professors at “leading universities” have partners who are also professors, and the proportion of faculty members who are hired as couples is on the rise. The report can be found here.

Interestingly,   this study, which looked at 13 top research institutions, discovered that 40% of women have academic partners, and that dual hiring rates are higher among women (13%) than men (7%).    The study concluded that “couple hiring becomes a particularly relevant strategy for the recruitment and retention of female faculty.”

Are the women who partner with other academics “marrying up,” and will that hurt their careers? Sounds like still another study is needed!

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Romantic Partners and Academics

  1. clueless says:

    Well, here’s a bit of personal perspective…

    I am married to a physics prof. I would hardly say this is “marrying up”; I am a mechanical engineer who works in industry rather than academia, so it’s more like marrying to one side rather than up. In any case, we have found that his career is far more restricted than mine is — I can get a job wherever factories are, he can get a job only at universities with physics programs who happen to be seeking a professor that particular year.

    So far we have moved twice to places neither of us particularly wanted to live because that was the only way to move him along the track to eventual tenure. That DOES hurt my long-term career prospects, however (I only hold jobs for a few years before transitioning again, which doesn’t look attractive to potential employers), and means that I have to pick a job only after his interests are considered. There are also personal and family impacts — our relatives and friends are all at least eight hours drive away, and each time we move we start over meeting new people from scratch. For me, that’s almost more of a problem than the career impact.

  2. tmcgaugh says:

    It’s not been unusual for professors who teach legal writing — a female-heavy group — to be told that the justification for their (dramatically) lower salaries is that they are not the primary wage earners in their families. So in this case, I’d say that “marrying up” has definitely hurt. Unfortunately but irrelevantly, some of us *are* the primary wage earners in our families, something that is apparently unfathomable to administrators and fellow faculty members.