May 29, 2009

A career move by Ruth Ley that "breaks all the rules"

I loved this candid story by Ruth Ley. Here's an excerpt from her post.

Don't let the stereotypes about two-body problems get you down. If you both build up your CVs, the doors open.

When I was in graduate school, I had arbitrary rules for myself based on a stereotype I had about what a successful independent scientist would do. Rule #1: Never follow a man. Rule #2: Never live in the Midwest. Rule #3: Never postdoc for more than 4 years. Breaking all those rules at once was the best thing I ever did for my career.

Many people meet their life partners at work, and we were no exception: I met Lars Angenent while we were both doing postdocs at the University of Colorado. We were in different departments, but Lars was doing part of his project in the lab I was working in. The only problem was, we didn't realize we were each other's life partners until 2 weeks after my future husband left the state for an assistant professor position at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. So, it was too late to bargain for another job, and besides, at that stage--just starting out in our relationship and in our careers--it didn't really cross our minds that we should move together. When Lars would say, "You're moving to St. Louis," I'd laugh, thinking it was a joke. That was rules one and two combined.

So, with no job solution in sight, I started to look for a second postdoc in St Louis. Breaking all the rules seemed like the only option.

While I was having a great time as a postdoc, my by-then husband was doing well as an assistant professor. His phone started to ring: Other institutions were recruiting him. Word got around that he was available and he got more phone calls. He'd tell them right away that there were two of us, and he'd send my CV over. Then I'd get a call. In several cases, people in the engineering department--where he was sought--would send my CV to the medical school to see if any particular department was interested in me. Then word got around that I, too, was available, and I started to get my own calls. It was an exciting time: The timing was perfect for both of us to be on the job market.

We ended up with several competing offers. We chose Cornell University because it offered the best overall fit for our family. We are in different departments, but our buildings are side by side.

Lessons learned? One: It took a little longer to solve the two-body problem than I might have liked, but it ended up helping me tremendously down the line--so be patient. Two: Some people are worth violating your rules for. And Three: There's more to those "flyover" states in the Midwest than what you can see from the airplane.

What if Michelle Obama could have career and family as First Lady?

Michelle Obama’s decision to choose Mom-in-Chief brings the challenges of dual-career couples to the forefront. On June 16, the Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research is tackling these issues in a free conference June 16 titled, Dual-Career Academic Couples: Strategies and Opportunities.

If you are unable to attend, send us your questions, and we'll ask the panelists. You can choose to ask either the Administrators or Couples.

For more information on the panelists, check out our video.

Mar 10, 2009

Opting Back In

The March 6, 2009 Forbes article titled, Why Women Who Opted Out Are Opting Back In, points to changing work patterns in today's times of economic uncertainty. In many families, women income earners play an increasingly important role in the family income, either as the sole or primary bread winners.

This shift toward dual-career families raises questions of how to succeed at home as well as at work. According to Amy Keroes, who runs Mommytrack'd, a Web site for professional women who wrestle with work-family balance, working women are still doing 70% of the housework.

Finding solutions for the family is discussed in the book, Getting to 50/50: How working couples can have it all by sharing it all. Authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober focus on how to ensure both work and families win in dual career households.

This area of research is particularly interesting as we have published our study titled, Dual-Career Academic Couples: What universities need to know. While the Clayman Institite study focuses on practices, policies and programs to successfully navigate a dual career, the 50/50 book does the same for family life.

When attending the book discussion at the Women's Community Center at Stanford University, I took away some key tips that could apply to dual-career couples in academia, business and industry. My two favorite tips were:
  • Shrink the size of the pie: I often get overwhelmed by my high standards for how the homelife should be. Organic, organized and quality time is my mantra. The authors suggest that by shrinking the size of the pie, we can find a way to manage it all. Perhaps Mac-n-cheese for dinner once in a while is not such a bad thing
  • Praise and acceptance: instead of criticizing my partner for the work he does around the household, I could instead appreciate his efforts. This has been going a long way toward our own dual-career happiness!

Mar 3, 2009

Dual-Career Academic Couples: Strategies and Opportunities, June 16,2009

The Clayman Institute invites you to join us for an afternoon conference titled Dual-Career Academic Couples: Strategies and Opportunities. This conference brings together administrators, faculty, and graduate students to discuss key issues and strategies arising from our report: Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know. Key questions include:

  • How can universities attract and retain the best talent?
  • Does couple hiring help build a more diverse, equitable, and competitive workforce?
  • How can couples best negotiate a dual-career path?
  • What policies or practices have universities put in place surrounding this issue? What works, and what does not?
  • What role can the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium play?
Registration is free and open to all. Registration opens on March 6, 2009.

Feb 9, 2009

Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All

The Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford is pleased to announce a book launch : Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All (Bantam 2009). By Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober.

Sharon Meers was a Managing Director at Goldman, Sachs & Co. until April 2005. She serves on the advisory council of the Clayman Institute. Sharon and her husband, Steve, founded the Partnership for Parity at the Stanford Graduate School of Business School and the Dual-Career Initiative at Harvard. Together with co-author Joanna Strober, currently Managing Director of a fund investing in private equity partnerships at Sterling Stamos Capital Management and daughter-in-law of the Institute's founding director Professor Emerita Myra Strober, this new book provides tools and presents an action plan for couples on how to implement a 50/50 solution for tackling the conflicting priorities of child care, job demands, and home life responsibilities.

This event is co-sponsored by the Women's Community Center, Faculty Women's Forum and American Association of University Women (Palo Alto Chapter).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 12:00 - 1:30 pm. Free and open to all.

Location: Women's Community Center, First Floor, Old Fire Truck House, 433 Santa Teresa Street, Stanford, CA.

Books will be available for sale at the event.

Dec 19, 2008

Do you have a 50/50 relationship?

I'm reading a preview copy of a great new book by local authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober: "Getting to 50/50" (to be published by Bantam Books in February 2009). The book is about how couples (typically with kids) can arrange their lives so that the woman can have a fulfilling career and the man can have a fulfilling family life with all the benefits that both of those things can bring to everyone in the family. I've just got through chapter one. I've waved it at my husband a couple of times, but he's put off by the way its obviously written for a female reader. Ah well, I'll just have to read him choice bits out loud as he sits at the computer working in the evenings.... More to come as I read!

Nov 19, 2008

Marilyn and Irvin Yalom on being a dual-career academic couple

On January 29, 2009, Marilyn and Irvine Yalom will be in conversation with Mark Gonnerman as part of the Stanford Aurora Forum's creative couples series. Starting at 7:30pm, the conversation will take place at the Kresge Auditorium. Free and Open to All

In the course of over fifty years of married life and raising four children, Irvin and Marilyn Yalom have made marks in their respective fields of psychotherapy and women’s studies with contributions through teaching and research leading to the publication of academic papers and popular books. Last year, they each presented their own research into death: Irv’s Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death and Marilyn’s The American Resting Place: Four Hundred Years of History Through our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds. Our conversation will begin with the Yaloms’ poignant explorations of human finitude and then turn to the story of their time together as a dual-career academic couple.