UVa CHARGE Program

Tournament of Ideas

The U.Va. CHARGE program seeks to generate innovative solutions, policies, or practices to address the challenges faced by dual career academic couples and the institutional challenges of hiring and recruiting them.  

Tournament Home

Submit a Proposal

Detailed Rules and Process Info

Proposal Evaluation Rubric
(how to win!)

Resources and Research

Tournament Schedule

Tournament begins

Teaming and Informational Event at Open Grounds, 5-7 PM

Proposal submissions are open.

Proposal due!

Finalists announced.

Final presentations (winner and runner-up announced).



Tournament of Ideas Proposals from Finalists & Winners

The following four finalists presented their proposals to the panel of judges and an audience of faculty, staff, and administrators:

Related - UVAToday: Winning Ideas Support Dual-Career Couples

The U.Va. Telecommunity: A Research Pilot (Winner!)

Telecommuting provides U.Va. with a unique means of addressing recruitment and retention issues associated with dual-career families in a way that respects the “career agency” of dual- career partners. Advances in communications and information technology have made telecommuting a viable employment option, but logistical, cultural, and other barriers have prevented telecommuting from capturing more than a tiny sliver of the labor market. The U.Va. “Telecommunity” project described in this proposal seeks to leverage the university’s research capacity to develop insights into the challenges associated with telecommuting. Based on that research, U.Va. can carry out cost-effective interventions to assist dual-career partners in advancing their own career opportunities through telecommuting. Those interventions can then be assessed for their effectiveness in promoting university goals, and appropriate adjustments to the program can be carried out.

Submitted by: Michael Livermore, Associate Professor, School of Law & Lia Norton, Editor, Darden Business Publishing

Improving Faculty Retention: A Networking Program for Spouses/Partners Seeking Employment as Administrators at the University of Virginia (Runner up!)

Because socialization and networking are key factors in finding employment, I propose to set-up a networking program for spouses/partners of new faculty members. This networking program will increase their chances of finding administrative positions at the University. It will also facilitate the social and organizational integration of dual career couples with diverse needs. This program is a cost-effective initiative to improve faculty retention as spousal unemployment is one of the factors influencing faculty members’ decision to leave the University.

Murielle de Wekker, PhD, Alumna, Curry School

Technological Solution to Dual Career Hiring Challenges

In academia, it is common for professors, especially women, to have spouses that are also academic professionals. When pursuing an academic appointment, these dual career professionals are faced with the challenge of finding a position and also navigating the complexity of career considerations for their spouse. This is also challenging for the universities due to limited resources for faculty hiring and the complexities associated with coordinating accommodations with semi-autonomous schools and academic programs. The proposed solution recommends the development of a work facility to provide spouses with an environment where they can remotely continue in the previous position. The strategy provides a permanent and/or semi-permanent solution that can be leveraged if a position is not readily available for the candidate’s spouse. This concept also establishes the foundation for potential partnerships with other universities that are dealing with the same challenge or even industry.

Submitted by: Devin Harris, Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering


Bringing Incentive and Accountability to Dual-Career Placement

We propose a scoring matrix for member institutions, led by U.Va., by which the level of cooperation in hiring of trailing spouses is measured and reported. In addition, we propose that the reporting of these scores can be used to create incentives—first, as simply providing data to institutions and new hires that underscores measurably positive relationships between institutions, and later, as a factor in determining which institutions might be included in sharing of additional resources, such as HR cooperative agreements and STEM job shares.

Submitted by: Lois Shepherd, Professor, School of Law/Medicine (dual appointment) &
Paul Shepherd, PhD, former Writer in Residence and Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University (presenter)



Photos from the Tournament of Ideas Event - WINNERS!

Congratulations to Michael Livermore, Faculty, School of Law, the WINNER of the Tournament of Ideas! And congratulations also to Murielle de Wekker, PhD alumna, Curry School, as the RUNNER UP! U.Va. CHARGE PI, Gertrude Fraser gives them their hard-won awards.

Michael Livermore

Murielle de Wekker

What is a Dual Career Couple?

dual career coupleAs more women have entered the workforce, more couples find themselves in dual career situations: both of the partners pursue careers at the same time. An academic dual career couple is one in which both partners work in academia as professors or administrators. According to the Clayman Report, 72% of full-time faculty have professionally employed partners and 36% (half) of these partners work in academia. Moreover, academic women tend to have high rates of “disciplinary endogamy”—their partner works within the same research area or discipline. In the sciences, 83% of women are coupled with another scientist compared to 54% of men. Further, compared to their white peers, significantly more underrepresented minority respondents selected dual career factors as important in their decision-making process (Fraser, Harden & Rhine, 2012).

The Clayman Report data for U.Va. showed 42% of women faculty had an academic partner compared to 33% of male faculty. When faculty candidates declined a position at U.Va., they cited the lack of spousal/partner career opportunities as the most important factor in their decision-making. Of these candidates, 56% of them selected dual careers as important.

Why Is This Important?

The growth of dual career academic couples and dual career hiring has a far-reaching impact on institutional faculty recruitment and retention policies, particularly for women (Schiebinger, Henderson & Gilmartin, 2008)  According to national research, women in academia are much more likely to have a partner who also works in academia than men. As a result, women are more likely to decline a job offer if the hiring institution does not provide dual career support. UVa CHARGE recognizes this as one of the significant barriers to advancing the role of women, especially underrepresented women, in the STEM and SBE fields.

The Challenge

Common Grounds U.Va.Clearly, dual career hiring is a significant issue at U.Va. and will only increase in importance in the future as the percentage of women in academia continues to grow. The question is, how to address this issue to create a work-life balance for faculty and staff. We challenge all members of U.Va.’s community to lend their diverse expertise and experience to generate unique approaches to transforming structures, cultures, or U.Va. policies and practices as they relate to dual career hiring and retention.



First place will be awarded a $3000 prize and the runner-up will be awarded $1500.


  • The tournament is open to anyone aged 18 years or older who has some affiliation with the U.Va. community, including faculty, staff, alumni, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, undergraduates, and their spouses,  partners, and adult children.
  • There is no limit on the number of authors per proposal and no limit to the number of proposals a person and/or team may submit.
  • To be eligible to win the cash prize, finalists must present their idea to a panel of judges and the university community, in person, on November 18, 2014 via a single representative. No exceptions.

Read the detailed rules and process information.

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If you would like more information about UVA CHARGE, please send an email to the team at uvacharge@virginia.edu. Feedback and suggestions are also welcome.

UVA CHARGE Program | Cobb Hall 2005 | P.O. Box 400239 | Charlottesville, VA 22904