Beki Grinter

DBO: The New Normal

In academia, computer science, discipline, research, women on March 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

This is more of a question than a post.

Today I learned, via Facebook of course, that a colleague of mine has just gotten engaged to another researcher. I was reminded once again of a comment that a very smart person—Martha Pollock—made about dual body opportunities. She said that DBO’s are the new normal (I’ve been considering t-shirts ever since). She was referring to DBOs that are any two professionals, mostly I have written about one particular type of DBO, the one I have experience with, two researchers.

So, my question. Are DBO’s the new normal, and if so, what are the implications?

My other question. Do we need t-shirts?

  1. I was just reading a New York Times article about women at MIT, and one line in particular stuck out to me because it was indicating exactly this:

    “Some of the problems noted in the report are brought on by progress: the university now struggles to accommodate two-career couples; a decade ago, women with tenure tended to be married only to their careers” —

    I know more and more people who are part of DBOs, and I think we need to find better ways of handling it. Martha did a great job when she was dean at handling DBOs; unfortunately not everyone does, and that scares those of us in DBOs.

  2. DBO becoming the new normal would be way cool. There are some great couples who also do great research– Judy and Gary Olson, for one example. I’m excited, because this is like progress!

  3. Being on a faculty search committee, I’ve found it interesting to see the variety of ways in which candidates addressed DBOs in their applications. Cover letters ranging from “I’m half of a DBO and the other half is [name]” to “I’m half of a DBO but you’ll have to guess who the other half is” to no mention whatsoever (but we eventually learn that a DBO exists). All this variety, and various shades of transparency, suggests it’s not quite the new normal yet. Right now the question of how (or whether) to address a DBO still seems a little awkward from both the hiring side and the applicant side.

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