Two-Career Couples

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) applauds The Scientist for its article on dual-career couples: "Opportunities Expand for Two-Career Couples" (J. Kling, The Scientist, 12[12]:12, June 8, 1998). The rise of dual-career couples is an important and growing reality--one greatly deserving increased time and attention. Being part of a dual-career couple presents a variety of challenges to scientists, particularly women. Today, women who are preparing for science careers want both a prof

Aug 17, 1998
Catherine Didion

The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) applauds The Scientist for its article on dual-career couples: "Opportunities Expand for Two-Career Couples" (J. Kling, The Scientist, 12[12]:12, June 8, 1998). The rise of dual-career couples is an important and growing reality--one greatly deserving increased time and attention.

Being part of a dual-career couple presents a variety of challenges to scientists, particularly women. Today, women who are preparing for science careers want both a professional and personal life. In 1993, AWIS conducted a survey of women science students as part of the AWIS Mentoring Project. The survey results indicated 94 percent of the undergraduate women pursuing science careers envisioned themselves married or living with a partner. In addition, 77 percent wanted children (Mentoring Means Future Scientists, AWIS 1993). Men traditionally have been allowed to pursue both a career and a family and many of today's women scientists have the same expectation. Therefore, both men and women must confront child care, elder care, and dual-career restraints.

Institutions must respond to these increased demands. Having worked with Dean (Frederick) Horne of Oregon State University and providing resources for dual-career couples, AWIS has devoted a great amount of time to the issues faced by dual-career couples. To facilitate change in institutional settings, AWIS recently completed the "Project on Academic Climate." The resulting report highlighted models and resources to effect significant and lasting institutional improvements. A few key points from the Academic Climate report suggest that institutions:

  • Develop a dual-career and joint-position policy before they begin searching for candidates.

  • Study the progress of institutions that have creatively dealt with spousal hiring.

  • Make special efforts to reward and retain outstanding prospects.

To achieve these recommendations, all aspects of an institution, from deans to faculty, must collaborate. AWIS remains committed to the issue of dual-career couples and offers to share its resources.

Catherine J. Didion, executive director
Kysa Christie, staff member
Association for Women in Science
1200 New York Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: (202) 326-8940
E-mail: awis@awis.org