Two-body problem (career)

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The two-body problem is a dilemma for life partners (e.g., spouses or any other couple) often referred to in academia, relating to the difficulty of both spouses obtaining jobs at the same university or within a reasonable commuting distance from each other. The inability of one partner to accommodate the other produces this central dilemma, which is a no-win situation in which if the couple wishes to stay together one of them may be forced to abandon an academic career, or if both wish to pursue academic careers the relationship may falter due to the spouses being constantly separated.[1] The term two-body problem has been used in the context of working couples since at least the mid-1990s.[1][2] It alludes to the two-body problem in classical mechanics.

More than 70 percent of academic faculty in the United States are in a relationship where both partners work, and more than a third of faculty have a partner who also works in academia.[3]

Traditionally, this problem is solved by wives who supported their husbands' careers. However, compromises the couple make while trying to negotiate the two-body problem may have implications in the context of gender equality.[4] Failure to compromise may have negative spillovers leading to difficulty in managing a family, and poor performance at work.[5]

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  1. ^ a b Benton, Thomas H. (pen name of William Pannapacker) (2009). "Just Don't Go, Part 2". The Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 March 2009, accessed 21 June 2012.
  3. ^ Londa Schiebinger; Andrea Davies Henderson; Shannon K. Gilmartin. "Dual-Career Academic Couples: What Universities Need to Know". The Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  4. ^ Wong, Jaclyn (16 March 2017). "Competing Desires: How Young Adult Couples Negotiate Moving for Career Opportunities". Gender & Society. 31 (2): 171–196. doi:10.1177/0891243217695520. S2CID 152139751.
  5. ^ Uthayasutiyar, K. (1 October 2011). "Dual career family lifestyle" (PDF). Journal of Management. 7 (1): 65–71. S2CID 151012512.

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