Beki Grinter

A-Z of DBOs and a Question

In academia, academic management, discipline on July 20, 2011 at 8:19 am

Female Science Professor has written another gem, this time an A-Z of dual career couples in the Chronicle of Higher Education. As a dual career couple myself, I would recommend it to anyone in the same situation. For those of you who are not familiar with FSP, she is a Full Professor in the Sciences at an R1 University, and so is her husband.

One of the reasons I would recommend this is that she has experience of  the concerns that some people have towards accommodations for dual career couples. I’ve known that this exists for some time, and understanding how to navigate these concerns and sensitivities is invaluable in doing what one can to ameliorate them. I would also recommend it to non dual career couples. If you want to understand the pros and cons of being in a dual career couple this is a great introduction. And since I think dual career couples are not going away anytime soon, both types of Professor need to understand each other better.

In the Bodies section she writes:

Studies of married female faculty members show that many women in the physical sciences and math are married to other academics, the majority of them in the same or similar fields. Although the two-body problem may arise when institutions try to hire male faculty members, it more commonly occurs with female candidates. The issue, therefore, has become inextricably linked with that of hiring and retaining women in science, engineering, and math.

and then proceeds to suggest (very rightly in my opinion) that couples need to understand what they both individually want in terms of positions (e.g.,vtwo faculty positions, one faculty position and an instructing/research scientist position). But, I wanted to return to this paragraph. One of the implications that you could take away from this paragraph is that women are more likely to marry colleagues in same or similar fields than men. Why is that? In my experience I agree with the statement (informally, I’ve not done any research on this). So, it’s a genuine question.

  1. Isn’t this (more women marry “within field”) pretty much an artifact of gender imbalance? If, like in CS, only ~10% of academics are women, then even if 100% of them are married to a man within the field, only 1 in 9 men can be married to a woman in his field. Since some are unmarried, or married to people in other fields, the actual percentage of male computer scientists who can marry a female computer scientist will be lower than that. Other STEM fields are not so extremely gender-imbalanced but even a 60/40 split with say, 50% of the women marrying “within field” will leave 2/3rds of the men looking outside of their field to marry.

    • I agree that must be a part of the equation. I still wonder whether it’s all of it though…

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