One of many issues facing women in STEM is dual-career challenges. Finding two STEM jobs at once in the same area can be very difficult. Often couples rely on institutions to provide jobs for them both if one gets hired. Statistically, women are more likely than men to give up on their careers or change career trajectories for the sake of their spouse. That is what makes this such an important issue relating to gender equity.
One article about this was published in the Journal of Higher Education in 2000, titled Dual-Career Couples: Keeping Them Together. It stresses the importance and challenge of offering viable jobs for couples who are both in academic fields. It discusses a survey of chief academic officers at various institutions. The survey asks questions about institutional dual-career assistance policies. Of the 360 responses they received, 24% of respondents reported having dual-career assistance policies at their institution. Most of the institutions reported that they would give faculty accommodations of this type, but mostly on an ad hoc basis. Also, universities which attempted to assist spouses in finding jobs were successful less than half the time.
The study showed that dual-career assistance was often overlooked in 2000. Today, most universities in the United States have some form of dual-career policy. These help faculty find placement for themselves and their spouses. The Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a group that helps people find jobs in academia, has many resources for dual-career placement. These resources are much easier to find than they were in the past. What’s more, dual-career couples themselves are more abundant than they were in 2000. According to a 2019 McKinsey article, Making It Work: How Dual-Career Couples Find Fulfillment at Work, their survey of over 35,000 workers found that 89% of women and 70% of men were part of a dual-career couple. Issues remain for dual-career couples, but research seems to show that they have more options than they once did. Still, this remains an issue that must be addressed if we wish to advance women in STEM.