Shockingly, Academic Wives Get Short Shrift


Research into the blissful lives of the mind that married academic couples are surely leading has discovered that women are more likely to subvert the importance of their careers to their husbands’ careers. Meanwhile, men in dual-career academic relationships were steadfastly self-aggrandizing.

A Stanford University survey of 30,000 professors and researchers at 13 major universities found that, while 50 percent of academic husbands believe their careers are top priority, only 20 percent of academic wives were similarly self-important about their own work. Even though, according to the researchers, academic couples are more “equitable” in the career values than couples camped in emotional squalor at the base of the Ivory Tower, the tendency for men to overestimate the importance of their work remains an annoyingly persistent phenomenon.

The survey shows that 36 percent of tenure-track academics are married to another academic researcher. Another 36 percent are married to someone who is employed outside of academia, while 13 percent are married to a stay-at-home spouse, and 14 percent are all alone having alarmingly complex conversations with their first-edition book collections. Since tenure-track jobs are increasingly difficult to find, universities often resort to dual hires if they’re trying to secure a new hire who also just so happens to have an academic spouse in need of work.

Women toiling away in the academy more often face the dual-career issue than men because 40 percent of female tenure-track professors are married to other academics, compared to only 34 percent of men. What’s more, 20 percent of men in academia have stay-at-home partners, compared with only 5 percent of women. About 21 percent of female academics are single (compared with 10 percent of men), which lends them way more career flexibility than married academic women. That’s because 59 percent of married academic women were more likely to value their career and their husband’s career equally, while only 45 percent of married academic men believed the same. Men were more likely to value their own academic career more than their wives’, a fact that often, but not always, came down to money (surprise! men in academia are making more than women in academia).

Male academics were simply more likely to prioritize their careers over everything else, probably because it’s really easy for such men to think they’re the cat’s footsie Ninja Turtles pajamas when there’s an entire social apparatus congratulating them for working so hard even as it warns their spouses that they’re focusing too much attention on their careers and not enough on being nurturing, caring, empathy-machines.

Female Professors Downplay Own Careers, Study Finds [LiveScience]

Image via grafica/Shutterstock.

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