For Future Reference, Conference Organisers

I’ve been trying not to write this blog post for about a month, but sod it. I’m doing it. Because this morning folks on Twitter were happily retweeting one of archaeology’s biggest conferences stating that childcare was available on site during the conference. Hurrah for inclusivity, let the parents roar, was the tone of the approving RTs.

But actually, for future reference, conference organisers:

  1. Childcare on a different campus (this event is being held at my alma mater, so I know- I would be amazed if the conference isn’t on one campus where the archaeology building is, at least a 10-15 minute walk from the nursery) isn’t on site. This is not a 2 minute nip out of my session, breastfeed or check in with my child and go back. That’s fine, but don’t say it is on site when it’s not. You will have stressed out parents to deal with in the long run.
  2. Childcare that we can only organise less than a month before due to your late deadlines and correspondingly late session details isn’t exactly reassuring. If you were attending all three days (and hence spending your ££s on accomodation, meals and the full whack of childcare) then you could book early. But if you were thinking of one day, it was impossible to book in until almost the last minute. This leads me to…
  3. How much spare capacity do the Early Years care providers have? This conference is over three weekdays, not the weekend when many conferences run and extra provision is available. So a last minute rush a month prior to the conference, with a wide range of age groups (all with different staff ratio requirements) is not helpful to your childcare team either. Do they put on extra staff? They have to. So my child is with new staff in a new place, if I can get them in. Super.
  4. Surprise surprise, that’s not a hugely appealing option. So my husband has booked a day off work on the middle day, and he’s having our girl. I believe they are going to the zoo. I wanted to submit abstracts for a couple of sessions, but knowing this was the scenario, I felt I could not do this and then pull out. Either way, my career loses. LUCKILY one session I really wanted to go to on the final day is going to be live streamed. This, more than anything else, really helps conference-going parents. Because…
  5. IT ALL COSTS MONEY. And unnecessary money at that. There’s no One Day Rate this year, so me going to this conference means paying full whack. As an unwaged person, I get a lower rate, but it’s still pretty substantial for a single day. It’s more than said zoo’s annual pass. And I think its substantial- me, a very middle class relatively well off woman. Checking my mofo’ing privilege here, if I’m moaning about this, there will be other people who simply cannot afford it. They cannot go. And they certainly cannot afford to go for 3 days, get their partner to have the kid(s) or pay for childcare ON TOP, and pay out for a B and B, let alone a hotel. At least with livestreaming you can watch it back later for free.

So please, while I have the utmost sympathy for the person running the TAG Twitter, and the poor souls running around organising the thing (been there…) can we keep fighting for improvements in access for parents rather than celebrating the bare minimum of provision? Here are some straightforward solutions:

  1. Be upfront about the distance parents will be from their child.
  2. Early deadlines, early announcements, early booking.

Not difficult.

Normal Etruscan services will resume shortly.



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