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Jill Fisher has recently been awarded a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation that is focused on university hiring practices for and job market experiences of dual-career academics. With long-time research collaborator Prof. Torin Monahan, this Co-PI project will provide a comprehensive analysis of universities’ dual-career policies and practices and will generate resources for increasing the representation of women and minorities in science. With more than one-third of US-based academic researchers being in personal relationships with other academics, recruitment and retention of top talent depends upon universities meeting the dual-career needs of researchers. This challenge is especially important for diversifying the scientific workforce, as prior studies have pinpointed problems with academic appointments as a major contributor to the leaky pipeline causing attrition of women and minorities in biomedical and STEM fields. The project will develop evidence-based guidance for university administrators and critical resources for dual-career researchers in order to support greater inclusion of women and minorities in scientific careers. These objectives will be met through a rigorous research project designed to produce new empirical knowledge about dual-career policies, their application, and perceptions of them.

Specifically, the project has three aims: (1) assess researchers’ perceptions of dual-career academic job searches and the effects of university partner-hire policies upon research productivity and career advancement, (2) document the formal mechanisms used by universities to support dual-career hires, and (3) establish innovative resources for the larger academic community to visualize and share information about universities’ dual-career policies and practices. These aims will be accomplished through a mixed-methods approach that includes a quantitative online survey of US-based dual-career academic researchers’ perceptions and employment decisions at critical transition points in their careers, qualitative content analysis of the dual-career policies of all 131 R1 (“very high research activity”) universities in the US, and the publication of an online “scorecard” of the dual-career-friendly status of all R1 US universities, along with an accompanying report for university officials and academic associations.