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The Two-Body Problem

, 208 pages
December 2004
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The Two-Body Problem

Dual-Career-Couple Hiring Practices in Higher Education

Approximately eight of every ten academics have spouses or partners who are working professionals, and almost half of these partners are academics as well. In fact, dual-career academic couples are so prevalent that "the two-body problem" has become a common way of referring to the situation. Increasingly, intense competition to hire the best faculty forces institutions to assist dual-career couples in finding suitable employment for the accompanying spouse or partner.

The authors of The Two-Body Problem examine policies and practices used by colleges and universities to respond to the needs of dual-career couples within the economic, legal, and demographic contexts of higher education. Using data from an extensive survey of public and private universities as well as in-depth case studies of institutions representing distinctive approaches to this problem, the authors find that the type of institution—its location, size, governance, mission, and resource availability—is a critical factor in determining dual-career employment options. The Two-Body Problem describes various accommodation models in depth and provides valuable information for college and university administrators responsible for hiring faculty and supporting their performance.

Lisa Wolf-Wendel is an associate professor in the teaching and leadership department of the University of Kansas. Susan B. Twombly is a professor in the teaching and leadership department of the University of Kansas. Suzanne Rice is an associate professor in the teaching and leadership department of the University of Kansas.

"A useful compendium of how institutions of differing size, type and location are grappling with the dual-career problems... One has the sense of being privy to the kind of uncensored observation that would never show up in official minutes."

"Anyone aspiring to be a department chair or provost, or something similar, might do well to at least peruse this book. "

"As the first comprehensive national study to systematically examine institutional dual-career policies and practices, The Two-Body Problem will interest administrators and faculty looking for ways to balance the needs of institutions with those of increasingly numerous dual-career couples."

" The Two-Body Problem is based on sound scholarship and will be a valuable contribution to higher education policy development and the literature on the academic profession. It will be of greatest interest to college and university administrators, serving as an easily accessible reference they can return to over and over again as the need arises."

"Administrators and policymakers will also find suggestions... about how to develop and implement an accommodation policy."

"A useful guidebook and a solid, accessible starting point for scholarship on campus couples."

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