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Solving the Two-Body Problem, Twice

Writing for the New York Times style section as part of its "Modern Love" series, Boston College professor Caroline Bicks describes her two-body problem that was resolved, but only to return. The author and her husband successfully found tenure-track positions in the same city after working apart for some time, she writes, though a few years later her husband was denied tenure, while she was awarded it. (The author calls this the "tenure-track equivalent of the 'Romeo and Juliet' ending.") Rather than search for another tenure-track position elsewhere, Bicks' husband "viewed his forced exit with a kind of relief. Although he enjoyed his teaching and research, he'd long chafed at the myopic isolation and slow pace of the academic world," she says. He eventually landed a career in finance, Bicks says, adding that "it's given us a lot more breathing room, since we aren't endlessly comparing our jobs, progress, and institutions."

Blogger Female Science Professor highlights the gender issues raised in the article. When interviewing for tenure-track positions, search committees had asked Bicks' references whether her husband was "going to be a problem," while her spouse was hardly questioned about his wife. FSP says that, conversely, her husband was often asked about her during his interviews. "Hooray for equal-opportunity unethical questioning by hiring committees?" she writes.

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