Feminism and careers…

Here, a female academic contemplates “breaking up the family” for her job..  and a friend pretty much tells her to be happy that her spouse and kids are doing well where they are…

I think the problem isn’t her friend’s reaction, but rather communication with her husband and the plans they have for their family.  It seems to me that “breaking up the family” for her job is a bad idea… and I say that from personal experience — there’s a reason I know that it’s exactly 400 miles from my old apartment to Omaha… and there’s a reason my ex is my ex — not to say that there’s a direct correlation, but the distance didn’t help.  Throw kids into that mix and it’s a very bad choice and one to be avoided if at all possible.

That’s not to say that she shouldn’t accept an academic job that requires a move, but rather that she and her husband may need to swap roles if she does accept that kind of job (right now it seems that her husband has the good job and she’s putting together work in an unsatisfying way).  An honest assessment of the way things would change post-move is necessary — if the whole family would be better off in the new location, then move — if not, then stay put.

This isn’t a matter of asking her to put her family ahead of her ambition — but, rather asking a question about the overall good of the group?  If the area she’d be moving to is fantastic for kids, her friends and family are close by and she can be the main financial support for the family, it may make sense to move… and her husband should go along for the good of the group as well.

To be frank, anybody in a dual-academic career couple has to have honest conversations about how to resolve the “two-body” problem — and in order for it all to work, BOTH members of the couple must be flexible…. and if you can’t contemplate moving for your spouse’s career, think hard and long about the spouse… I’m just sayin…


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