As we have argued in Section II, it is in the interests of both the hiring institution and the physics profession as a whole that institutions take an active role in addressing the dual-career situation of the physicists whom they wish to hire. Such efforts can help an institution to hire and retain the candidates they choose, and will also help to ameliorate the significant barriers experienced by talented women entering the profession. Since women represent a much larger fraction of younger physicists than of the more senior population (14% of physicists 31 and under vs. 3% of those over 40), the number of new hires who will face such a difficulty can be expected to increase dramatically in coming years. It therefore behooves all institutions to take appropriate measures to address the situation. Below we recommend various of actions which institutions and individuals should consider.

(a) Recognize the existence of the dual-career situation and choose to deal with it

This is the obvious first step, but as responses to our survey reveal, many institutions have yet to take it. As the statistics cited above indicate, institutions of all types at all levels will be increasingly faced with potential hires whose partners are in need of help in finding suitable employment in the area. It is crucial that institutions choose to make an appropriate response. That response may involve anything from establishing a formal, institution-wide office with specific responsibility for such assistance (as in the Spousal Hiring Programs described above), to informal efforts on the part of faculty members to learn of potential physics positions in local industry. But the problem will not go away if institutions ignore it.

(b) Take action before beginning a search

Institutions need to take action in a timely fashion. Once an offer has been made to a candidate, there is generally too little time left to begin an investigation of local employment opportunities or possible model policies for split/shared positions. Institutions, upon recognizing that the problem is likely to affect their next hire (not to mention subsequent ones), need to determine what kind of assistance they will be willing to provide, and obtain the necessary information. Responsibility for this effort should be specifically assigned, whether to an institution-wide office or a faculty member. If assistance with dual-career problems is everybody’s responsibility, it tends to be nobody’s.

(c) Establish policies regarding split/shared positions, nepotism, etc.

As our survey responses have shown, many institutions have been asked by a candidate to consider a split/shared position but were unable to do so in the time frame of a specific hire. Therefore it is important that institutions explore the various models for such positions beforehand and discuss them in the context of their own needs, present and future. By working out some of the details of such policies in advance, an institution can be prepared to act quickly when such an arrangement becomes desirable in a particular hiring situation. The same is true of nepotism policies–department chairs and other responsible parties have a duty to investigate the actual policies in force in their institutions (not just what they believe them to be), and to discuss the status of these policies with the institution’s legal counsel. Given that these policies appear to have a negative impact on the recruitment and retention of women in physics, physics departments should consider measures to remove or modify such policies. But such actions must be taken in advance of a specific hiring situation.

(d) Seek information

In conjunction with this report, we are establishing a site on the World Wide Web to provide institutions with access to information about actions they can take in response to the dual-career situation. The Website is <> On this site we have posted specific policies for split/shared positions, spousal hiring, and the like which have been adopted by various institutions. The site also contains the names of contact points at these institutions for those wishing to learn more about the implementation of specific policies and the effects they have had. We invite individuals and institutions that have found creative approaches to the dual-career situation to contact us with information they are willing to share, which we will then post on the site. Links to and from other relevant sites (such as the home page of the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics) will be provided.

(e) Federal policies

It is clear that the dual-career-couple problem is one of the major factors in slowing the growth of the percentage of women in physics. Yet, to our knowledge, there are no federal policies or programs aimed at helping dual-career-couples. Some programs, such as the POWRE program discussed in Section V(e), can give valuable short-term help, but such programs are woefully underfunded. One can imagine programs similar to this program specifically aimed at dual-career-couples (yes, such programs discriminate against single scientists, but we have seen that the entire system discriminates against married scientists). In any event, programs which offer flexibility in location (such as the POWRE program) or which can supplement a partial college/university salary could certainly alleviate some of the difficulties faced by dual-career-couples.

In addition, funding agencies can be more sensitive to the needs of dual-career-couples. For example, the agencies are reluctant to provide support for an individual who has a particular soft-money-research position for the long term (more than 5 years). The reasons are that the salary eventually becomes too high, and that the individual gets trapped into the position and has difficulty finding employment elsewhere. However, in a dual-career-couple situation, such a position might be the only way a spouse can stay in science, and thus a more pro-active response of the funding agencies in such cases (perhaps, for example, with gradually increasing institutional support) would be helpful. In general, it would help if funding agencies would be as flexible as possible in dealing with dual-career-couples.

Finally, the ruling that anti-nepotism laws in male-dominated professions are illegal was a ruling of only the 8th circuit and thus only applies in that circuit. A more widely-applied ruling would be welcome.

(f) Develop contact networks for hiring

Because the number of physics-related positions in a given area is usually low, it is important for institutions to be able to provide contacts for job-seekers in their area. As discussed above, such contacts may benefit a department in other ways (such as job opportunities for their graduates). Simply being aware that "Company A might be willing to hire a physicist," or "Department B might need a part-time instructor" is not enough–job-seekers need to be provided with names and phone numbers of specific individuals with whom they can explore what opportunities might actually be available. Although that individual may not be aware of a position that suits the job-seeker’s qualifications, s/he should be able to direct the job-seeker to other points of contact. While it is the individual’s responsibility to "land the job," the institution can at least tell her or him where to place the hook.



In this report we have summarized the responses to a survey of the experiences of dual-science-career couples, and many of the institutional responses that they have received. Many of these responses either made the situation worse or did nothing to improve it. We have argued that it is in the interests of institutions to instead take an active, positive role when faced with potential hires who seek employment for their spouses. Such actions will benefit not only the job candidate and the institution, but also the physics profession as a whole. For institutions that choose to aid themselves and the physics community in this way, we have offered recommendations for action and sources of information, as well as examples of successful programs and policies. We hope that institutions will decide to meet this challenge, and thereby achieve their hiring goals and also enhance the representation of qualified women in physics. The "two-body problem" will inevitably worsen in the future, and forward-looking institutions will choose to take appropriate action. As physicists who have experienced the dual-career situation ourselves, we hope that an increasing number of institutions will choose this path.