One of the most common territories where gender inequality dominates is the academy. How is it that less than 20% of professors in the academy are females? Where is the main fault? And why is it their spouses job to change the situation?
Much has been said about the demanding academic career leaving a trail of young researchers who failed to complete the marathon. In the science departments, for example, it results with only 14% women. These low numbers are frustrating given that in the doctoral studies there is gender equality.
It turns out that the most critical point, where most of the talented women fall, where the broad funnel narrows down, is the post-doctoral stage.
Following the formal studies, those who want to pursue an academic career are required to take a study leave at a leading institution abroad, a period of three years after which they apply for the position of senior researcher in one of the many institutes. About five to ten years after, and according to their academic achievements, the institution decides whether to offer them a permanent position.
Moving abroad usually includes the complete family package and more often than not create strong resistance for various reasons. Careers are interrupted and supporting a family abroad based on a researcher’s salary is difficult. Even after all the hard work and effort, the desired position is not guaranteed.
All of this is true for both genders, but surprisingly when the man is facing the same situation, the women receive it better and are more understanding. As a result, more men take the post-doctoral route and more male professors than females.
Why should you have a professor wife?
1. A permanent position in the Academy is the family’s safety net. She is a professional and economical anchor, which allows you, her spouse, the career man or the entrepreneur to take risks, jump between positions, crash and mourn your failure for a few months, or raise the children while compromising on a contributing but less rewarding job.
2. Your wife the professor will continue to work until the age of 70 while you, the Hi-Tech guy will retire 20 years earlier and zigzag your way between projects.
3. She will be quite independent when choosing her fields of interests and managing her schedule and you might end up finding yourself on a family holiday at the Particle Physics school in the Swiss Alps or visiting the Great Accelerator. The world will open her up to great opportunities, and you, if you wish, can join her for the ride.
4. Her accomplishments will be yours as well, and your children will grow in the light of two supporting, egalitarian parents who are proud of each other. Your daughters will acknowledge their ability to achieve and strive for curiosity and experiences.
5. You will find out that you are actually quite skillful and tell the guys that you change diapers, cook meals and/or do the laundry, and your sons will acknowledge their ability to put food on the table…literally.