Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Don’t Assume they Know

Although the two-body problem is obvious to many of us – especially younger and minority applicants – the people who are doing the hiring are not always so with it. This is especially true if your hiring committee is composed of mostly OlderWhiteMales. Most OWMs are not trying to keep out women and minorities, but they are oblivious. Most committees are required to have women or minorities on them, but they might not have a strong voice, if they are a minority voice. Further, they might also be ignorant of university policies or avenues that can lead to a double-hire.

At the BigStateUniversity that my husband and I ended up at, the hiring committee and the department had no idea how to go about trying to get a spousal accommodation. I did a number of things to help them.

First, at my interview, I asked to meet with other women in physical and life sciences. At those meetings, I asked about being a woman at the university, and I found out that several had two-body problems that the university had solved. This gave me evidence that the university could solve the two-body problem and that these other departments knew how to do it.

Second, I talked to the woman on my hiring committee about the possibility of solving the two-body problem during our meeting. I was lucky that she was senior, and she knew a lot about these issues.

Third, we StuckToThePlan. When the department called with the news they would make an offer to me, I asked about my husband’s search. He had a separate interview at the same place. They said that he wasn’t the top candidate. I told them that I would say “no” to all offers unless we had two positions.

After several weeks of chatting with the Department Chair, so he could negotiate with the Dean about my start-up, it became clear that he had no idea how to negotiate for a two-body hire. I told them it had to be possible because other departments had done it recently. I gave them the department names of the women I had talked to. I contacted the senior woman on my search committee, and asked her to talk to my chair about different options they could exercise. With her help, they figured out how to approach the Dean, and were able to make the spousal hire. HusbandOfScience did not get to negotiate for start-up. They gave him the same package as the theorist they hired for the same position for which he interviewed. Other than that, the solution at BigStateUniversity was ideal. We have been very successful.

Comments on: "Don’t Assume they Know" (1)

  1. […] salary and his whole job, and I shouldn’t look too greedy (see previous post on solving the Two-Body Problem). I think not negotiating my salary at all was a mistake. Even starting a few $1000 ahead would […]

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