job searching/academic couples

Linden Higgins linden at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Jan 29 09:29:06 EST 1996

>I am fortunate to have been asked to interview
>at a few of the places I have applied to.  One aspect of the job search that I
>am very unsure about is how or when to bring up the fact that my husband
>currently has a tenure track faculty position and that I can not accept a
>position unless we know that he will be able to find something also. ...[snip]
>One suggestion that has been made to me is to make no mention of my husband and
>his situation until I have been offered a position.  This seems late to me.
>Do you think I would be hurting my chances at a position if I bring this
>issue up during a first interview?  Who is the appropriate person to
>discuss this with?  Do people think it is appropriate to bring copies of my
>husband's CV so it could be circulated to appropriate departments at a
>University?    Thanks in advance for your input.  This group has been
>terrific resource for me.

In my (limited) experience (two interviews, widely spaced - you are
fortunate!), I can offer the following advice:

They cannot _legally_ ask you anything about your marital status.  However,
if you have no intention of taking a job where he cannot get one, and
refuse offers for this reason, I suspect that it will "get out" that you
are "not serious" about your job applications.

What I've done (and I am in exactly the same position) is the following:

1.  We have agreed with each other to be separated if necessary, and I
state in my cover letter that I will take a job even if he cannot find one
in the area - I realize tht you do not consider this an option.

2.  During interviews, I have been lucky enough to have at least one
sympathetic faculty member - in one case it was my host, in another it was
another woman in the dept.  In both cases they said "we need to talk about
that which I cannot ask you..." and we went from there.  In each case, I
made it clear that I understood taht it would take some time for
arrangements to be made, and they made it clear that _if_ given the offer,
arrangements _would_ be made in the next year or two.  I waited until they
made the approach, and I waited until they asked for his c.v. - in the
first case, they didn't and in the second, they did.

What I have been advised to do if no one brings it up is not mention it
until negotiations start.  This, as awful as it may sound, does work - I
have friends who have managed to get double positions.  However, you must
be aware that, in these times of fiscal conservatism, most departments
cannot instantaneously carve out moneys for two positions, especially if
one of them is tenured.  Some separation time may be necessary.

3.  If it is widely known that you are married to a faculty member who has
tenure, be aware that it will influence your interviews whether you like it
or not.  In fact, the reason why I have the sentence in my cover letter
about taking a job is that a few years ago, when I applied someplace with a
good friend on the committee, she questioned a common friend whether it was
a serious application.

I hope that this is of some help.  Best of luck to you in your interviews!

Linden Higgins

Linden Higgins, Ph.D.
Dept. of Zoology,
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  78712
linden at

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