November 6, 2006
Stanford launches national survey on recruitment and retention of academic couples
The Clayman Institute for Gender Research has launched an online survey of 30,000 faculty at 12 of the nation's leading public and private research universities to learn how academics manage their careers, how they deal with professional barriers and opportunities, and how their work impacts their personal lives.
The institute's objective is to use the findings to help universities create better policies and practices that support faculty balancing work and home life. The findings also will be used to develop recommendations for institutions seeking to recruit and retain faculty who are partnered with other academics.
Dual-career couples have been part of higher education for as long as both men and women have been able to hold faculty positions, said Londa Schiebinger, director of the Clayman Institute and principal investigator of the study. Universities have dealt with such hiring and retention challenges in an ad hoc way, she said, approaching each couple as a problem to be solved rather than recognizing that academic partners constitute a growing trend. The institute wants to use the study's results to help universities move beyond individual cases to establish best practices, policies and procedures for assisting dual-career academic couples.
"The two-body problem has a real impact on women's access to careers in higher education, especially in science and technology," Schiebinger said. "It is important for universities to do more to meet the needs of both men and women who are partnered with other academics. Universities, the economy and society as a whole will benefit from hiring practices that recognize the realities of modern life. Our study will culminate in recommendations aimed at assisting universities to recruit and retain greater numbers of top faculty."
The institute will draw on the survey's results to highlight different aspects of academic career management. Launched Nov. 1, the online survey will be available to full-time faculty at the selected universities until early December. Preliminary survey results will be published next summer, and final results will be announced at Stanford in fall 2007 at a national conference on dual-career couples.