More than just lab partners: women scientists and engineers married and partnered to other scientists and engineers
In spite of the "two-body problem" many academic women scientists and engineers are married and partnered to other academic scientists and engineers. Some information is known about the prevalence of these relationships and resulting issues surrounding the job search, and there are many biographies of scientists partnered to other scientists. This research asks previously unexplored questions about which women scientists are more likely to partner with other scientists, why these relationships form, and the implications these relationships have for women scientists personal and professional lives. The project utilizes data from the 2000 United States Census and 15 in-depth interviews to explore women scientists' and engineers' experiences in their relationships with other scientists and engineers. The quantitative component suggests that among partnered, female academic scientists, non-citizens are significantly more likely to partner with academic scientists than US-born citizens. Among US-born citizens, women living in metropolitan areas are significantly more likely to partner with academic scientists than those living in non-metropolitan areas. The interviews, meanwhile, illustrate that a relationship with another scientist impacts a woman both professionally and personally. Participants reported that their interest in science affected who they dated and 14 of the 15 women met their partners in a professional setting. In their personal lives, the women scientists reported competition with their partners and leading narrowly focused lives; yet they valued their partners' informed understanding of their passion for science and the demands of academic science careers. With regard to their professional lives, women reported that their relationships created difficulties with regards to the job search and their travel schedules to conferences and fieldwork. They also reported professional benefits from their relationships; almost all of the women collaborated with their partners either formally or informally and noted that their relationships helped them to network and that their partners served as mentors. In addition, they saw science as a way of thinking, and their families often participated in science activities at home---thus science was not only a career but for many of them, a lifestyle that extended from the home to the lab.