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Couples for Hire

"Couple hiring can help build a more diverse, equitable, and competitive workforce, especially with regard to gender," write Stanford University's Londa Schiebinger, Andrea Davies Henderson, and Shannon Gilmartin in a new report on dual-career academic couples. In a survey they conducted involving 9,043 full-time faculty from 13 research universities, Schiebinger and her colleagues found that female scholars are more likely to have academic partners than their male counterparts and that "rates of dual hiring are higher among women respondents than among men respondents" — 13 percent versus 7 percent. "This means that couple hiring becomes a particularly relevant strategy for the recruitment and retention of female faculty," the authors say.

Further, Schiebinger et al. report having found that "the number-one reason women refused an outside offer was because their academic partners were not offered appropriate employment at the new location." Because of this, they add, "couple hiring is important to attract more female faculty to fields where women are underrepresented, such as the natural sciences and engineering."

The authors also report having found differences in how male and female academics negotiate for couple hires. "Historically, men more than women have used their market power to bargain for positions for their partners," they write. For their survey, male respondents comprised the majority of first hires — 58 percent — and only 26 percent of second hires. However, the authors suggest that "gender ratios of first and second hires may be changing with time, which suggests that there is an increasingly equitable share of bargaining power among women and men." They add that "recruiting women as first hires breaks the stereotype of senior academics seeking to negotiate jobs for junior partners."

HT: LiveScience

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