Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Postby Phillip » Thu Dec 09, 2004 3:55 pm

What is the best way to deal with a job search when you have two PhD's in the family, both of them in the life sciences? Do others have this problem?


Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Postby Kim » Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:15 pm

Have you ever heard the term "trailing spouse"? I believe that there are a few articles in Science Nextwave that describe your situation. Check them out.
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Postby Phillip » Thu Dec 09, 2004 4:45 pm

The problem is that it doesn't seem right for either one of us to "trail." Her career is just as important as mine, and yet she has an opportunity in Southern IL, that would kill my chances because there is zero biotchnology there. Yes, I'll try to find accesss to Nextwave but still seeking recommendations.


Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Postby Drew Parrish » Thu Dec 09, 2004 5:40 pm

Hi Phillip,

The two-career family is a tough situation, isn't it?

It's worked out for us, but there were a lot of sleepless nights worrying about which of us would have to sacrifice. Like you, neither of us wanted to be the trailing spouse, and neither felt like we should be. We were both good scientists, both postdocs, with similar publication records. Why should one of us have to sacrifice our career? How do we choose? And even if it seemed like the right decision at the time, wouldn't that leave an underlying resentment? Trailing spouse...I hate that phrase.

We started our new jobs this fall - he's now a tenure-track faculty at a top university, and I'm a scientist a large biotech company. The way our job search worked was that he applied and had offers at a number of universities, which then gave me the opportunity to look at biotech opportunities in those areas of the country. A couple of the places created faculty packages that included us both, though that wasn?t necessarily the route I wanted to go (I just imagined going to one of those schools and being forever known as the tag-along spouse). In the end, one of the universities stood out (good city, good university, good biotech opportunities), so I applied to a position at a biotech there, and they gave me the job.

We?re still trying to figure out how all of this managed to work out so well for us. I know couples that are equally talented that still struggle to find jobs in the same location. I know we were lucky. I also know that the uncertainty of last year?s search put a real strain on us ? just try to keep your sense of humor about it all. Things have a way of working out.

Oh, and Nextwave really does have some good articles on the topic, as does The Chronicle (
Drew Parrish
Posts: 153
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Best Practices - Two Career Families??

Postby P.C. » Thu Dec 09, 2004 7:39 pm

Either force the weak spouse to be the trailing spouse or immediately move out and file for divorce.

To be kind be cruel is the general rule.
2 Couples with Phds, either need one to carry both, if not together both are doomed.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
Posts: 2439
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Michael and 18 guests