Dual-Career Couples, Double the Opportunities
COLLEGE STATION -- When husband and wife Dr. Adam Jones and Dr. Ginger Carney -- both biology researchers at Texas A&M University -- were looking for jobs, their No. 1 criterion was finding an institution that would hire both of them. The couple has been together since they met in graduate school, and the thought of having to be apart in order to both pursue their careers was unbearable.
"It was critical for us to find jobs at the same university so we could be together," Carney said. "That was by far the most important thing for us. We had lots of places that we could consider independently of one another, but we wouldn't be here if we hadn't had the option of both working at A&M."
Jones and Carney are but one of the 21 dual-career couples currently on faculty in Texas A&M's College of Science. Roughly half of these couples have been hired under former Texas A&M President Robert Gates' 2003 reinvestment plan to hire 447 additional tenured and tenure-track faculty (70 in the College of Science) by 2008.
"President Gates' reinvestment plan has allowed us the opportunity to find truly outstanding couples who were looking for a university at which they could both get jobs, which is often very difficult to find," said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science.
Dr. Sherry Yennello, associate dean for diversity in the College of Science, said the reinvestment plan gave the college additional flexibility in hiring dual-career couples.
"[With each couple], we were able to attract two exceptionally qualified individuals because we could offer both of them tenure-track positions," Yennello said. "We took on the view that these were 'two-body opportunities,' and this attitude put us at a competitive advantage versus other institutions."
Carney added, "There are not that many places that have the resources and willingness to hire two spouses at the same time, and that makes a difference."
Another advantage to hiring couples is that they tend to stay at the university, Yennello said.
"For another institution to attract them away, the other institution would have to be able to come up with career opportunities for both of the partners," she added.
Jones and Carney have been at Texas A&M since December 2004 and said they enjoy the school spirit at A&M and the "cohesive university environment" that has enabled them to build strong professional relationships with their colleagues.
While both Jones and Carney wanted to be able to pursue their research careers, having a family was also very important to them. The two have been married for nine years and have three children (ages seven, four, and two). Although the couple admits it can be difficult to balance work and family responsibilities with such research-intensive jobs, they said the flexibility in their schedules makes it easier.
"It's hard to have a family and to function at the high level that is expected," Carney said, "but [it's nice to] have the ability to adjust our schedules and work evenings if we need to be gone for a family obligation."
Although both Jones' and Carney's research interests are in genetics, their specific areas of study differ. Jones studies ecology and evolution issues from a genetics standpoint, and Carney is interested in how genes in the nervous system regulate behavior. The couple said they enjoy talking about their work at home and that their research interests have begun to overlap partly because of this.
Jones said he is happy with the way things have worked out and is grateful that Texas A&M was so accommodating of their two careers.
"We've been extremely lucky, because we've never had to live apart," he said. "A lot of people in a similar situation as us spend time at positions apart from each other, but we've managed to be really lucky."
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org