The Status of Women in the Historical Profession, 2005
Chapter 1: Work and Family
Spousal hiring is near the top of the list of issues of concern to respondents, especially those who received their Ph.D.’s after 1985. Dual-career academic marriages and partnerships are now common, and this issue is likely to be increasingly important for younger faculty, both male and female, in the years to come. While a number of survey respondents noted that they, or their spouses or partners, had benefited from spousal hiring policies, a far greater number reported they were making uncomfortable sacrifices due to the lack of such policies. Respondents observed that women more often than men had to scale back their ambitions and take part-time and non-tenure-track jobs in order to keep families together. Many acknowledged the challenge of weighing fairness as well as departmental interests and independence in making such hires. Some observed that it was far more common for institutional resources to be expended in hiring the wife of a powerful man than the reverse, the husbands of accomplished women, and worried that such policies, if not monitored, could work to enhance entrenched male privilege. It is noteworthy that, in light of how many interests must be balanced in making spousal appointments, not a single respondent bemoaned jobs lost to the hiring of a faculty spouse over someone else.
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We recommend that the suggestion of one respondent be widely implemented
as standard policy: "It would be helpful if maternity leave policies were
clearly stated up front to all job candidates in the material departments send
to job interviewees. One shouldn’t have to ask, or be afraid to mention" them.
Policies should be clear and transparent, and non-punitive in their execution.
We also recommend that the AHA’s "Best
Practices on Spousal/Partner Hiring"6 be consulted for guidelines useful in negotiating such hires.