Data on Dual-Career Couples and the Dual-Hires in Academic Careers

March 3, 2014

A flurry of Twitts from Doctor Zen last week drew my attention, eventually, to a report from The Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. The direct link to the report is here [PDF] and an executive summary style Dual Career Toolkit is provided as a PPT file.

There is all kinds of interesting stuff in here, including basic demographics on prevalence (36% of the American professoriate), career attitudes (50% of men say their career is primary, only 20% of women do) and impact of dual hires (performance measures of trailing-spouse do not differ from single hire peers). With respect to the last, the authors conclude:

Thus, our data suggest that productivity levels among second hires are not significantly different from those among their peers after data are disaggregated by field, and gender and rank are accounted for. (p72)

The Executive Summary of the full report emphasizes that dual-hires are seen as both a growing reality and a thorny problem for Universities. It takes no great leap for those of us familiar with such cases to grasp that one of the biggest reasons for pushback and objections is the assertion or supposition that the trailing spouse would not deserve a hire in his or her own right. Analyses such as the above seem to be critical to this issue in my view.

I’ve written on this topic before

Spousal Hiring is Unethical? Puhleeze.

It was one of my more extensively commented posts (107) so I entirely endorse the idea that this is one of the thornier questions of academics at the moment.

By way of a disclaimer, I am in a dual-academic-career relationship. We have not yet had opportunity or need to press dual-hire issues, but this is always possible in the future.

7 Responses to “Data on Dual-Career Couples and the Dual-Hires in Academic Careers”

  1. Pinko Punko Says:

    I think these data probably suggest that there are a large pool of qualified people for jobs, and that many people can be meaningfully productive and successful in positions without needing to go to the 20th tiebreaker on the CV. But somehow not having all those meaningless things out to the 20th tiebreaker is used to bash the trailing hire (many cases a woman), and is just another form of sexist bs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. drugmonkey Says:

    Agreed, PiPu, agreed.


  3. rxnm Says:

    Yep. Solid, transparent dual hire policies are a no-brainer. Still some old dudes that need to die off before this is widely recognized at the appropriate levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joe Says:

    That’s been our experience. The spousal hire does just as well as the primary hire, but you still hear people complain. “We only took him because his wife got a job over in Pediatrics. We should have followed our strategic plan for hires.” It’s ridiculous. Here, when your dept takes a spousal hire, you are getting a position for about 1/3rd the cost since the main hiring dept and the school pick up a lot of the start-up and salary for the first few years.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. qaz Says:

    What this speaks to is the terrible underutilization of capacity currently existing in the US economy, including in both science and many other businesses. There is a huge labor pool of untapped, qualified people who could contribute, if they were only given a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dsks Says:

    “It’s ridiculous. Here, when your dept takes a spousal hire, you are getting a position for about 1/3rd the cost since the main hiring dept and the school pick up a lot of the start-up and salary for the first few years.”

    Plus you can be damn straight that the trailing spouse is low-balled on the compensation offered, regardless of their qualifications. If they turn out to be equally productive to their primary hire partner, is their compensation altered to reflect that? I doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. […] "Liisa Tremere, a research assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences". Clearly this is a dual hire situation. A couple working their way until they both get tenure track faculty appointments. […]


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