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Strategies for Spousal Hire

April 2006

Strategies for Spousal Hire

I would be interested in hearing how UC faculty members with academic spouses have tried to obtain long-term employment for their spouse. I have spoken with the chair of my department about my situation (my spouse is interested in a permanent lecture position, not a tenure-track one in my department) and he has told me that he has communicated with my dean. But nothing concrete has happened. Have faculty in similar situations approached their deans directly or their offices of faculty equity? Or is the only strategy to go back on the academic job market for leverage? I have observed that the UC system policy regarding spousal employment is uneven. Although UC-conducted studies have acknowledged that this is a problem, I observe that some spousal hires are made, and some are not. My spouse has also been looking at UC resources such as HERC (which advertises academic positions in CA regions) to obtain employment elsewhere, but has been unsuccessful.


As far as I know, UC Berkeley has no formal spousal hire policy. Furthermore its reluctance to hire couples places it far behind most major public research universities, while its low salaries and its relative geographic isolation make it much harder for such families than when at least one partner is teaching at one of the major private universities on the East Coast. Most spousal hires here, as far as I can tell, involve male full professors with much younger wives, many of whom are their former graduate students. These women include some of the most brilliant faculty in the university, but it is interesting to see how few spouses of female and/or relatively junior faculty appear to have been hired in comparison. I have the distinct impression that the campus's new and very welcome family-friendly policies were an effort to head off having to deal more directly with this issue as well as pay raises.