Yesterday I heard a report on Marketplace (American Public Media) about 2-career academic couples. The story was motivated by the occurrence of the 5th annual Dual Careers Conference.
When I heard the story, I was in the final hours of a very long drive and was not in the best of moods. My impression at the time was that the story was extremely negative, although it does mention that some universities are participating in Higher Education Recruitment Consortiums (HERCs). HERCs are ".. clearing houses for all available jobs at all participating schools in a region." I suppose that could be helpful in some regions. It's not enough to solve the problem of 2-career couples, but it's some progress.
I just read the transcript of the Marketplace story today, and I still find it disappointingly negative. The husband and wife featured in the story have lived apart for nearly 20 years. In their interview, each one makes points that resonate with me; for example, about how neither one could ask the other to give up something that is such a major part of who they are. The interview is very sad because they've been apart for so long and decided not to have children because of their commuter relationship. It's important to tell stories like this, as it's a situation many academic couples face, but it's not the whole story by any means.
There are couples who have made the 2-career situation work. These examples are not so rare as they used to be, and it wouldn't be hard to dig up an example or two. Instead, the story ends with this sad quotation from one member of the long-separated academic couple: "God, I don't want to do this forever. It's such a hard existence."
Another Marketplace story of interest had to do with women's voices, and how the pitch of your voice can affect whether you're taken seriously.
NYU's Sheila Wellington says it's important for women to cultivate a strong voice.
OK, fine, but it is also important for men to learn to take women seriously even if we sound like women.
And then there's the issue raised by Deborah Tannen:
If they sound too young, Tannen says, they run the risk of not being taken seriously. On the other hand, if a woman sounds too authoritative . . . she .. has to choose between being a good authority figure and being a good woman.
An academic woman listening to these programs yesterday might well get the impression that she's likely to end up alone and afraid to speak in any voice.
6 months ago