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faculty positions for spouses

eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU eoshuster at UCDAVIS.EDU
Mon Aug 15 20:00:22 EST 1994

On Aug 15, lakleczk at bioslave.uio.no (Leszek Andrzej Kleczkowski) wrote:

> Now the relevant question:  how likely it is that BOTH spouses will edge 
> over 100 qualified candidates per position?  
> In any case, negotiating a faculty position (or tenure-track) 
> for a spouse is not an exception, however disgusting it may be for those 
> who value merit in job applicants.

  You are assuming that the spouses are not qualified.  It is rarely the
case that any of the 100 (more likely 400) applicants for a faculty
position is the "ideal" candidate (just try to get any search committee to
agree on the definition of "ideal").  Usually, there are many candidates
who meet the stated qualifications on paper.  As in deciding the cutoff
point on grant applications, it is more usually a case of deciding which
qualified applicants NOT to interview.  When I was looking for jobs (~5-6
yrs ago) people told me that ~25% of applicants (~250-300) were usually
qualified, and 10% looked good, but that Depts could only interview 3-6. 
If anything, the competition has become more intense since then (at least
in the biological sciences).  Once you get to the interview stage, it's
almost a coin toss (assuming that all candidates do reasonable jobs on the
seminar/interview), since many intangible factors go into the final
decision (I could write lots more on this, but that's another post).  The
bottom line is that spousal accommodation is just one more of those factors
that may be used to choose which of the MANY qualified applicants are
offered the job.  Is it fair?  As long as both spouses are qualified, it is
no more or less fair than cases where applicants receive an edge because of
prior contact at scientific conferences or through previous collaborations
w/ members of the Dept.  Also, the issue of fairness cuts both ways - do we
really want to return to the days where MOST spouses had to choose between
grossly disparate job titles in one location or jobs at opposite ends of
the country (and possibly the end of the relationship) just because
employers bent over backwards NOT to be accomodating?  (And, yes, I know
that this still happens, but at least it is not the ONLY option any more).

Beth Shuster
Univ. of California, Davis
eoshuster at ucdavis.edu

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