Why Hire Dual Career Couples?

  • Academic couples who work at the same university are happier and report less stress in balancing their jobs and their family lives than do dual-career couples in which one spouse works at a university and the other works at a different institution or outside academe.
  • Nationwide, about 40 percent of male faculty members and 35 percent of female faculty members are married to other academics.
  • Men whose wives worked at the same university spent six more hours per week working than men whose wives worked elsewhere. But the men whose wives worked at the same university reported greater family success.
  • Women with advanced degrees whose husbands worked at the same university reported being more satisfied with their marriage and family life than other married women in the study.
  • Women with school-age children whose spouses worked at the same university reported working fewer hours and reported greater success in balancing work and family.
  • Couples who worked at the same university were more likely than others to place an equal priority on both partners' careers, rather than favoring the husband's.

Source:  Robin Wilson, “Academic Couples Said to Be Happier Working at Same University,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 2, 2002, A12.


  • Dual hires comprise an increasing proportion of all faculty hires over the last four decades (from 3% in the 1970s to 13% in the 2000s), whereas the proportion of academic couples has remained relatively constant.
  • Couple hiring can help build a more diverse, equitable, and competitive workforce, especially with regard to gender.
  • Women are more likely than men to have academic partners (40% of female faculty in our sample versus 34% of male faculty).
  • Women in academic couples report that their partner’s employment status and opportunities are important to their own career decisions. Not only do women more often than men perceive a loss in professional mobility as a result of their academic partnerships (54% for women versus 41% for men), but they actively refuse job offers if their partner cannot find a satisfactory position.
  • Couple hiring is important to attract more female faculty to fields where women are underrepresented, such as the natural sciences and engineering.
  • Academics tend to couple in similar fields of study and are often found in the very same department. Fully 83 percent of women scientists in academic couples are partnered with another scientist, compared with 54 percent of men scientists.
  • Couple hiring may help to advance not only gender equity but also racial/ethnic diversity, which enhances competitive excellence.
  • Universities are in danger of losing prized candidates if suitable employment cannot be found for a partner. When couples have choices, they prefer to live together and take jobs where each partner can flourish professionally.
  • Universities need to understand how policies and practices affect faculty attitudes toward dual hires on their campuses. Most survey respondents marked “I don’t know” in response to the question: Does your current institution have a written hiring and retention policy in place for dual-career academic couples? However, the one institution in our study with the highest rate of faculty awareness also enjoys the highest rate of perceived institutional and departmental support for accommodating academic couples.
  • Schools with written dual hiring policies have higher rates of perceived support for academic couples than do schools without written policies.
  • One problem with couple hiring is that a stigma of “less good” often attaches to a second hire. Study data suggest, however, that second hires, when full-time faculty members, are not less productive than are their disciplinary peers. 

Source: Schiebinger, L., Henderson, A.D., & Gilmartin, S.K. (2008). Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know. Stanford: Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research. View the report.

Types of partner accommodation:

  • Membership in a HERC (Higher Education Recruitment Consortium) or other network.
  • Assistance for relocating partners
  • Bridging Positions
  • Provision of a permanent position for a faculty partner
  • Assistance to graduate students
  • Shared positions

Source: American Association of University Professors. (2010). Recommendations on Partner Accommodation and Dual-Career Appointments. Ann Higginbotham.