Dual-Career Couples

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The role of a woman in the workplace

The role of a woman in the workplace has changed since the middle of the 20th century, along with demographic and social trends. In the United States, the proportion of couples with two careers climbed by a startling 31% between 1996 and 2006. About 50% of all American couples had two careers as of 2014. (Gilbert, 2014). It can be challenging to strike a balance between the demands of work and those of a family, and things get considerably more complicated when a couple has a kid or children. Organizations and companies have been forced to introduce initiatives and measures to help the dual-career couples and the employing companies and organizations themselves to achieve a life-work balance. In so doing, the couple is able to achieve their contribution and commitment to the attainment of the goals and aspirations of all the parties in an efficient and effective manner.

The Issues Associated with Dual-Career Couples and Parent Employees

From an economic point of view, it is a positive thing when dual-career couples increase, because it has a consequence of positively contributing to the tax revenues collected and value creation, which in the end increases the standard of life with respect to the national economy. Dual-career couples achieve significant results at their places of work which in the long run contributes to a higher self-fulfillment. Large corporations have embraced the trend and are either employing the couple or helping the unemployed partner to land a job. Another issue is the limitation of finding two jobs, which can both be described by the couple as satisfying and are within a reasonable commuting distance.

The conflict of balance

The conflict of balance is another issue which cannot be overlooked; the couple will always try its best to do their optimum at work and at the same time give the best to their, as a rule, young families. The daily conflicts are experienced by almost all dual-career couples (Wayne, Casper, Matthews & Allen, 2013). The issue is even compounded by the fact that one cannot sacrifice work at the expense of growing a family and the opposite is also true. Ranking one over the other will always be detrimental. Another issue is that of employee relocations. Relocation for one of the spouses would mean that the couple lives apart from one another or that the career of the other partner is disrupted (Wayne et al., 2013). The issue is even becoming more widespread in that businesses, corporations, and organizations have to relocate across continents or national borders all thanks to globalization.

Dual career couples are usually pressured

Dual career couples are usually pressured as they attempt to meet the demands of their bosses at work and the responsibilities of their families. Such parents carry guilt because they cannot spend sufficient time with their children. A survey carried out by Alcorn in 2011 reported that up to 21% dual career couples confided that they struggled with depression or some stress-related health complication since they have become parents (Känsälä, Mäkelä, & Suutari, 2015, p. 2193). Other researches of the same kind have revealed similar results making policy formulators more concerned about the prospect of employing or not employing dual-career spouses. The other significant issue is the discriminatory nature in the salary, tenure, hiring processes as well as other micro-inequities experienced by women (Dowling, Festing & Engle, 2009). Although discrimination has over the years been addressed and fought, it still is present in most of the areas. It is a hard enough to balance family and career, as a lack of equal treatment makes it even more difficult for women to excel compared to their counterpart men.

Human Resource Policy Recommendations

Organizations need to acknowledge the importance of supporting dual career spouses to attract and retain a quality workforce. Such acknowledgment arises from the recognition that today, over 70% of job seekers and employed ones have partners who are seeking employment (Dowling, Festing & Engle, 2009). Extension professionals need to agree that dual-career lifestyle isn't going anywhere but here to stay. It is up to the human resource departments to creatively deal with the phenomenon. The policy guidelines would include advertising and providing information. It comprises creating a dual career assistance program from where information on new job openings should be posted and the partners adequately notified. The hiring departments do not have to ask their employees about their marital statuses or their partners but rather provide information for the willing couples to apply. The working partners will also be at freedom to inquire about application procedures for their trailing partners. Another policy would be swift responses to requests for dual career assistance. Partners of candidates, having received tentative job offers would be assisted as they look for employment opportunities for their partners, within the organization or even outside the organization at an acceptable distance. Finally, before a dual-career couple is hired, the human resource and concerned departments would need to review the whole hiring process to make sure that discrimination of any manner does not occur (Gilbert, 2014). Following the guidelines ensures that the organization does not lose qualified employees even when their partners land new jobs because they are satisfied with their treatment.


Dowling, P., Festing, M. & Engle, A. (2009). International human resource management: managing people in a multinational context. Mason, OH: Thomson/South-Western.

Gilbert, L. A. (2014). Men in dual-career families: current realities and future prospects. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Känsälä, M., Mäkelä, L., & Suutari, V. (2015). Career coordination strategies among dual career expatriate couples. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(17), 2187-2210.

Wayne, J. H., Casper, W. J., Matthews, R. A., & Allen, T. D. (2013). Family-supportive organization perceptions and organizational commitment: The mediating role of work–family conflict and enrichment and partner attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(4), 606.

March 02, 2023

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