Friday, March 21, 2014

On "Mixed" Marriages

My dear spouse is a non-academic. (I am too now, after finally bailing from The Vocation a few years back.) I've always had a seething envy of the perks of academic couples. -- they can always weedle their schools into hiring their spouses (or get hired at their spouse's schools themselves, regardless of their qualifications), and everyone thinks their marriages are deeper and richer than mine (I call bullshit). I even had a rant on this matter posted on RYS!

But the thing that pisses me off most is they can always get their spouses funding through their own research projects, regardless of how irrelevant the spouse's discipline is. It's called being innovative and interdisciplinary!

One incident in particular stands in mind. I was part of a team that went to a VERY undeveloped part of the Third World for a summer project. My official collaborator decided to bring his wife (in a completely unrelated field) to "help." She brought a friend from home because she wanted company and thought it would be fun.

Well, neither of these two deadweights had ever (1) been in a tropical country during the summer, (2) spoke the language used there, or (3) ever eaten anything not available at Whole Foods or stayed in a hotel that didn't have cable and wireless internet and room service. Both freaked out and demanded to move into fancier digs in the nearest big city, about an hour's drive away.

Meanwhile, my dear spouse, who has professional experience in audio-visual stuff (which would have been useful for our data collection) as well as camping and peeing-outdoors experience, couldn't possibly come, except on his own dime, (And even if he did, it still would have made me look unprofessional to my department.) GRRR.


-- Sent in anonymously by Totally Unfair

4 comments:

  1. "But the thing that pisses me off most is they can always get their spouses funding through their own research projects, regardless of how irrelevant the spouse's discipline is. It's called being innovative and interdisciplinary!"

    This, to be quite frank, is baloney. It might have happened in the one case that you describe, and i'm sure that it happens on occasion, but I can assure you that this is far from the norm in academia.

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  2. News to me that spouses have those perks. My suffering wife has had to give up dreams of teaching. Even though she's probably a better teacher than me. But small schools have no flexibility to hire anyone.... unless it's the president's husband or provost's wife.
    I love my job, but my heart is broken every day I come home.

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  3. As the other half of a trailing Significant Other (as in trailing after my SO for the first 3/4 of my career), I've never been GIVEN a job because of my SO. I've always had to make do with what I could find (usually adjuncting at various schools). We even lived apart for many years because we couldn't find jobs in the same city or state. So perhaps much has changed in academia since you quit. The only way we ended up living in the same place was to have one of us quit our job (which my SO opted to do by taking a buy-out option when offered that a few years ago)...

    I've never been able to justify a travel perk for my SO (even when warranted), but a former colleague of mine always managed to take a family member as his "research assistant." He was in charge of his program's funding (as the head of his program). I don't know of anyone now who gets that perk. If those people were able to wrangle funding for their spouses, I wonder why you weren't allowed the same. I suspect that may have been the norm years ago when schools were more "flush" with money, but it's hard enough for ME to get funding now, let alone to justify more for my SO.

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