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« Salaries for TT & full time non-TT positions? | Main | Making a mid-career leap of out academia? »

05/06/2021

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Frustrated

I’ve been trying to solve this problem with no luck. I’m in the US. It seems the only way to do it is to “get leverage”, which means apply out constantly. I’m exhausted by it, and it requires really pushing people to go to bat for you, which spends a lot of goodwill. People will also eye you suspiciously, like why do you think you are such hot stuff that you and your partner should work in the same place? Senior faculty are uniformly and laughably out of touch with this fiasco. I can’t tell you how many times some middle aged clueless person has said “why doesn’t your husband apply for a job at [local R1 etc.].” ... My partner is fantastic in his field, but only the biggest hot shots can choose their university like that, not junior folks suffering from a crushing workload, who have turned down good opportunities to keep their family together. Similarly, I’ve heard people wonder why someone with a two body problem would apply to jobs they might not take. Just so clueless. It’s absurd. Our research (both his and mine) has taken a hit with the constant maneuvering, with the sometimes long-distance commutes, etc. And throw a few kids in the mix there, it’s a recipe for constant chaos.

Mostly I’m just super annoyed at a profession that takes no account of this, the lack of attention to this issue, the absolute lack of support from colleagues. I would say about 75% of female academics I know deal with this at some point. Many fall out of the tenure track, follow their husbands, adjunct, or quit. If you run in fancier circles and know lots of people who either (a) never had this problem or (b) solved it easily, well, maybe there’s a reason for that. So—I have no good news or words of support. Be prepared for the long haul. Or you could get lucky. Best wishes to anyone dealing with this.

anon

It's worth keeping an eye out for universities that explicitly advertise that they have policies for getting you a spousal/partner hire at the time of offer. e.g., University of British Columbia, University of Calgary.

philosopher in a med school

In my experience, you need an external offer to get leverage as Frustrated suggests. My one suggestion is to see if one or both partners are more flexible in terms of where their tenure initiating unit may be. I ended up in a College of Medicine as the TIU; I do have a tenure track position and I get to do the kind of research that I want. Business schools, med schools, pharm schools, etc. may have more flexibility in terms of hiring than colleges of arts and sciences. Watch out though, tenure may mean something completely different than in the humanities and may require grant funding, more service, etc. But if you are flexible and your research aligns, this may be a good option.

EuroProf

I work in Europe and from my experience this problem is practically unsolvable for junior academics. Some universities have dual career programs or will offer assistance with finding a new job for your partner, but normally this only applies to jobs at a higher level. Definitely not for PostDocs or PreDocs. If you're an internationally distinguished academic and the university really wants to hire you, you'll be able to negotiate an additional position for your partner. I've seen it happen but this is extremely rare.

Hildy

In 2016 the Daily Nous shared a poem about this topic and the comments, while mostly debating the ethics of spousal hires, also contain a lot of valuable information and experiences. https://dailynous.com/2016/12/19/hiring-couples-guest-post-felicia-nimue-ackerman/

I am not a philosopher (though philosophy is a strong interest of mine), but my spouse and I are both academics in another field and have relevant experience. This is in the US. My spouse landed a TT job while I was still in grad school. We lived apart for a while and I targeted my job search around where his job was. I was lucky to get a TT job that is about an hour and 15 minutes away by car from his job. So we have sort of "solved" our 2-body problem, yet it is difficult to figure out where to live and we do not feel settled, and it also feels a bit unfair since his job is much better than mine. We have applied to the very rare places with two openings and that almost worked out once, but then didn't. I was a finalist in an open search at his university, but wasn't selected. I have pretty much lost hope of ever getting a job there because as a policy they don't do spousal hires. We both apply selectively to other jobs that are good fits where we think they might want to hire us both. My point is this is an ongoing multi-year project. I would probably both apply for all the jobs you're eligible for and just see what happens, perhaps targeting large universities that have duel-career protocols on their websites. The general wisdom in the US is to ask for a spousal hire after an offer is made.

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