Friday, October 26, 2007

Job Sharing

Academic careers can be difficult to reconcile with family life. The job market is tough enough for a single philosopher -- the chances of a couple securing work at the same institution are generally very slim. So, that sucks.

The best solution I've heard of is 'job sharing', which is just what it sounds like: two people, one job. It's a great deal for the institution: the couple applicant may have twice as many areas of specialization and teaching competence than usual, for example. And they may be expected to do twice as much research -- or perhaps even more, since each of the two individuals has only half the usual teaching load to bear. Yet they cost only a single salary.

Why does this not happen more often? Do you think job sharing is likely to become more common in future?


  1. I expect you would get paid more if you were hired separately. (Because the temp market would pay significantly more). And that model is less flexible. That being said I knew quite a few husband and wife teams that work together in lecturing (with a bit of time share going on but mostly full time) - interestingly the wife was always the one in the higher position.

    In one case it is quite good (the husband is pretty good and probably makes a reasonable substitute when required) in another the husband was clearly the weakest lecturer (oh my god, I read his thesis...) but also totally unfireable.

  2. The problem, I suspect, is these days most people want to work full time. I'd be reluctant to take such an arrangement unless I felt confident I find decent part time work to supplement it--say, writing of a better-paying sort than most academics do. In that case, though, it could be quite an attractive deal.

  3. Really? A single full-time academic salary (split between a couple) is probably still more than most families make, isn't it? They may not be living in luxury, but nobody goes into philosophy for the money. To have (half of) a good academic position plus extra time for research and family life, sounds pretty ideal to me...

  4. I doubt those people are directly comparing themselves with what 'most families' make. You get accustomed to a life with a certain cost and its really hard to change particularly at a time when you are probably adding costs (new marriage).

  5. Re: Richard.

    I made that comment without checking any data for what academics make. I had previously heard complaints from academics about not making enough money, so I assumed we were talking not much more than a high school teacher--maybe $40,000. A search for "professor salaries" yielded a number of reports indicating professors get paid rather more than that, which caught me quite by surprise. And even without that, I would have freely conceded your point about family time--though would suspect that's mainly a factor for people with younger children.

  6. In NZ the working hours are already pretty casual, even without the job share. I understand much more casual than overseas because Unis offer that in exchange for the drop in salary (obviously they can't compete with unis in the US in terms of actual money).


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