Lately I've been talking to academic friends and acquaintances who have made mid-career moves to other universities. In particular, I have been talking to those in academic couples, in which 2 senior hires are involved.
In one case, one member of the couple didn't have a tenure track job at the first university and doesn't at the new one, but the non-tenure track position at the new university is slightly better, and the new university is better overall for both of them.
In another case, one member of the couple is giving up a tenured professor position at the old university to take a research scientist position at the new university, so that they can both move to a better university. This is the case that has been making me really think. I'm not going to say whether it's the husband or the wife giving up the full professor position to become a research scientist (reluctantly, I should mention) because what I have been thinking most about is whether it matters. And whether I could do that myself -- that is, give up being a Professor to become a Research Professor. There's no real difference in status in my field between the two, so that's not the issue. Even so, I don't think I could, and I don't think my husband could. Even if I were allowed to teach as a research scientist, I would still feel like I was giving up something important, perhaps in part because I worked so hard to get where I am.
For me, this is just a thought exercise because all the positions my husband and I are considering at the moment are full professor positions for both of us. But what if one of us were offered our 'dream job' and the other were offered something else? This was our fear way back when we were searching for our first tenure-track positions, and I thought that kind of anxiety was over and done with. This is different (we do have jobs), but the stress of wanting to finding 2 jobs that we both like in a place we both like feels the same.
It's strange to think that it would be so hard to give up being a Professor. If I were a research scientist instead of a professor, the things I would be giving up are the things I like the least -- meetings, meetings, and more meetings. In addition, my opinions are ignored now, when I am a Professor, so what would be so different about being in a position in which I officially had no say in department governance? It would be different, and I guess I'm realizing that that difference is important to me.
6 hours ago