Professors dating grad students

Compared to undergraduates, grad students--even young ones fresh out of On the other hand, I kind of think the professor dating an undergrad does have a.
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At the other extreme is a grad student dating a faculty member in a different field possibly at a different university. I see no problem with this, no matter what the gender distribution. If the relationship works, and the junior woman gets a job at the same university as her partner, she will be plagued by doubts about her achievements, but the woman in almost any spousal hire situation will have to deal with this no matter what the circumstances of the relationship are.

Then there are the middle cases concerning whether or not the faculty member is in the same subfield as the grad student and whether or not they are housed at the same university as the grad student. Same department, same subfield is a risky proposition for any gender configuration. There is a good chance that the senior person works closely with someone on the committee and the relationship could cause tensions there.

Students dating lecturers: Why, how, and what are the consequences?

Same department, different subfield is a safer bet. Other than the inherent complications that humans have with relationships once sex enters the picture, I don't really see a problem with two mature adults entering a consenting relationship. In either of the same department cases, there is a concern of what happens if the relationship breaks up badly.

There is a good possibility of bad feelings within the department, but this is true if a dual hired pair goes through a divorce, or two tenure track faculty fall in love. Isis's don't fuck where you eat dictum is just not as simple as it seems. In a relationship where one member is more junior than the other, the junior member is more vulnerable in the case of a bad break up. I believe this is true for any gender configuration, but the advice not to date more senior scientists is doled out to women more than men, which is where my problem with the entire issue comes about.

Different department, same subfield is less risky than if the senior person was in the same department. A romantic relationship could interfere with the relationship the grad student has with their committee if the senior partner is a collaborator of a committee member. A bad break up here could follow a person around to conferences and polarize a community interfering with future post doc positions.

I feel one can proceed with caution in this domain. It is seen as acceptable to form close personal as well as academic friendships with people one meets at a conference. Since universities are no longer mostly housed in monasteries, I don't see why that can't be taken a step further. Different department, different subfield is very similar to the discussion about dating people in a different field altogether.


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  • Is it wrong to have a relationship with a grad student?!

I should say a word about Potnia's concern. I think the message sent to other women in the department depends on how many women pass through the department. If there are several women in each year's cohort, suppose the department has 20 female grad students in it at any given time one woman having a relationship with a professor isn't going to send much of a message either way.

If there is only one woman every few years then it only needs for a female dating a professor to succeed and the following female to fail to get her degree before the rumor spreads to the third woman entering the department 6 years hence that you need to sleep around to get a degree. This is a deeper problem than what message this one person sends by dating a professor. I question why a woman dating a senior man is immediately labelled a slut, getting ahead on her back, while a man dating a senior female is not immediately labelled the male equivalent.

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The fact that there is not an equivalent word for men with a negative connotation is a discussion for a different post. Whether one chooses to attack the more global issue of perception of women or the local issue of protecting the woman's and the department's reputation is a personal choice. No matter what the configuration of fields and departments, I fear that a woman dating a senior man is far more likely to have her work attributed to her partner than in the opposite gender configuration.

Any position she gets will likely be rumored to be given to her to keep her partner. But this is true of any academic pair, even those to get together as undergrads and manage to make the relationship work through grad school and post docs. On more cynical days, I fear the only way for ladies to escape this sort of doubt is pair up with a non-academic.

But I don't think the circumstances under which such a pairing was made plays a major role in that outcome. Posted by Barefoot Doctoral at 2: Anonymous June 27, at Ramiz Raza July 15, at Steph Stephanie August 10, at 6: Olivia Alexander October 14, at 3: In separate departments, that's not likely to be an issue: There are still situations where issues could arise - say, if you ended up on the panel choosing which grad student from the school would win a prize, and she were a candidate; or if you were asked to be the outside member of her thesis committee at a school which picks outside members to be professors from other departments.

So, unless your school has a specific policy on the subject, it's probably ethical, as long as you make sure to avoid being in a position that creates a specific conflict. You should check your school's HR handbook or department policy. Many institutions have specific rules. If you don't violate their rules, and the relationship is mutually agreeable, best of luck to you both. I just ran across a publication from a very respected professor, at a very respected institution, who collaborates with his wife, also a professor at the same institution, and a co-author on the paper.

His bio indicates he met his wife while on a fellowship. I don't see any problem as long as it is assured that she will not be your student during graduation or it is assured she can't get any unfair advantage in academics due to this relationship. I generally agree with other posters that separate departments should be distant enough--except that you met at an academic conference, which suggests your areas of study overlap in some way.

How big was the conference, and has she already proposed a dissertation that does not overlap with your expertise? Further, depending on HOW you met e. I am a fan of Stanford's recent policy on this. They created an infographic, available here: Basically, NEVER date undergrads, and teachers shouldn't date any student "when a teacher has had -or might be expected ever to have-academic responsibility over the other party.

Your Answer

With what you know now, how much does your field fall within all the possible things she might think of studying? Grad school is broad, after all If you study social psychology and she studies sociology of groups, say, you might have too much overlap to ethically date: That said, it would be problematic on the other hand if you two developed an academic relationship with an unrevealed desire for a romantic relationship still lurking.

Also consider what would happen if you dated but broke up acrimoniously. You would have to recuse yourself from judging things she was part of, but what would happen if her advisor recommended she take a class in your field of expertise? Obviously, as others have said, it would be unethical to violate the expectations set up in your school's policies unless the policies themselves were unethical, such as Bob Jones University's old ban on interracial dating. But presuming the relationship was OK by your school's policy and your fields of research are separate enough that you are not going to infringe, you might be OK.

You would have to think about how to ask her out directly, once, making it clear that you have no power over her and there would be no repercussions or hard feelings or pursuit if she said no. Or, better yet, hope that she asks you out! The first is answered most easily by "Check with HR". I have been to universities where the answer has been "Absolutely not under no circumstances", and some where the answer has been "As long as you're not in a supervisory position". In my mind, the biggest issue here is the potential power imbalance between the faculty member and the student, and the ability of the faculty member to influence her career and degree progress positively or negatively.

The Barefoot Doctoral: Academic dating

That comes up most directly in the same department or in a direct supervisory role, but it could also crop up if you're in the same school. For example, if there are school-wide awards, fellowships, etc. Or if you're in a school where committees are often hybrids from several departments, etc. At the very least, it needs to be documented that it exists, and there should be a formal plan for how this isn't going to impact her progress.

There also needs to be an acknowledgement in both your minds that this is a dynamic question - as your career and hers progress, it may be important to revisit the question and make sure no conflicts exist, and evaluate opportunities that come up in light of your relationship.

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service , privacy policy and cookie policy , and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Is it ethical to date a graduate student of the same university where you are a faculty member? Rodrigo de Azevedo 2 Kumar Kumar 1 5 7. It might be "frowned upon". What are the policies at your school?

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The answer seems specific to your universities policies. RichardErickson We live in a very dark age if ethics is decided by a school policy