Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Another two body couple down in flames

There has to be a better way. We have almost completed our interview season and interviewed two individuals with "two-body" issues. In both cases the individuals that applied were well liked. In both cases there spouses were fairly well-received, but because we only have one position in our department and were unable to convince any other departments to accommodate the spouses (well not yet anyway), it looks like we will miss both opportunities. Some schools have offices dedicated to dealing with two body issues. But unfortunately, we aren't quite there yet.

On another but related front, my sister is dealing with an interesting two body problem. She has been offered two positions: one at the institution with her spouse and another at an institution within driving distance (45 min each, if they lived half way). The institution that is further away is giving her much more money for start-up, but this would entail a long commute for both of them, and might make it difficult to get home in an emergency when they decide to have children. Any thoughts?


At 12:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always hard to say something for an outsider not knowing the circumstances. But my gut goes for the commuting option. First, 45 min isn't THAT long. And second, the better job with its better opportunities might make a later change easier.

At 5:32 PM , Anonymous lost academic said...

We've seen in many places that the 2-body problems sometimes creates extra problems when there are all sorts of negative assumptions about why you or your spouse got where you are. That's something worth considering. 45 minutes isn't really that long a commute for some, and then again, for some it's interminable. It depends on what the 45 minutes consists of--easy highway driving, easy country backroads, gridlock all the way? Is childcare an easy option at either institution? Does that significantly limit the time the other parent can spend with the child if they decide to have one? Or several?

Worse, though--does rejecting the good, financially more attractive position put a larger strain on her marriage?

At 10:40 AM , Anonymous whymommy said...

I agree with you -- there does have to be a better way.

Any ideas?

My favorite is ... (drum roll, please) ... telecommuting. At least for the times that one isn't teaching or using specialized equipment. For many of us, that's most of the time. There is no reason for institutions not to support it.

In the instance you pose, for example, if each were permitted to telecommute during the two days a week they were not teaching or having office hours, a 45 minute commute the other three days would be a bargain!

At 11:52 PM , Blogger Holly said...

This seems like the classic choice between work and family. There's no right answer, but it seems like limiting the commute to only the days it's absolutely needed is a hopeful compromise.

I did that for one semester, granted it was twice as far, but the only thing that made my twice a week commute feasible was that I did not have to attend meetings or advise students!

At 2:42 AM , Blogger Einat said...

I know this is an old post, but I think I have something to add:
Two parents working long hours + having a rather long commute usually doesn't work well. Small emergencies occur quite a lot, and usually one parent decides it is too much, and moves closer to home. Usuallay the mother, and sometimes even if there isn't a good professional alternative. If there is a good alternative now, I would chose working close to home. Loosing an hour and a half a day on the road is lots of time that could be spent better.


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