Research Shows That Faculty Search Committees Consider Relationship Status of Women But Not Men

A new study by Lauren A. Rivera, an associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University in Illinois, found that faculty search committees tended to consider a woman candidate’s relationship status when making recommendations but did not do so for male candidates.

Dr. Rivera found that search “committee members assumed that heterosexual women whose partners held academic or high-status jobs were not ‘movable,’ and excluded such women from offers when there were viable male or single female alternatives. Conversely, committees infrequently discussed male applicants’ relationship status and saw all female partners as movable.”

Dr. Rivera concludes that “the ‘two-body problem’ is a gendered phenomenon embedded in cultural stereotypes and organizational practices that can disadvantage women in academic hiring.”

Dr. Rivera is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University.

The study, “When Two Bodies Are (Not) a Problem: Gender and Relationship Status Discrimination in Academic Hiring,” was published on the website of the American Sociological Review. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: FacultyResearch/Study


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