Oh, Baby, the Conferences You’ll Go!
A member of GSA’s Conference Childcare Committee presents an overview of childcare resources available at scientific conferences.
Guest post by Madhumala K. Sadanandappa.
Recently, I received an email from the Genetics Society of America (GSA) regarding my interest in being a part of the Conference Childcare Committee that aims to tackle the childcare-conference conundrum as outlined in Calisi et al., 2018. The committee has been tasked with exploring better ways to accommodate primary caregivers attending GSA conferences. Based on my personal experiences at scientific meetings, this is a much-needed initiative to address the challenges faced by both parent-researchers and the conferences.
Before choosing my postdoctoral research, I planned to attend a well-known, reputable, biennial conference in my field. Besides offering an excellent platform to present my work, the conference offered a timely opportunity to survey my study area and weigh my future course of research. However, the meeting failed to accommodate my parental needs, including practical and monetary considerations for breastfeeding and childcare. As an early career researcher, it was not feasible for me to afford additional travel expenses. So, after weighing my options, in addition to planning for a solo trip, I forced myself to wean my toddler early. This decision left me with a heavy heart because I really enjoyed my time nursing my daughter and also, as a researcher, I admired the beauty of nature that was unfolding around me. Therefore, I have enthusiastically agreed to serve the GSA conference childcare committee as a parent postdoc researcher.
Going forward, normalizing parenthood at conferences will empower parent-scientists (especially early career researchers) to thrive in science. To achieve this goal, many scientific societies are working to reduce the ‘baby penalty’ on parent-researchers. With the purpose of serving as a resource for parents and parents-to-be, here I list some of the childcare services that are currently provided by various conferences/societies to their attendees, including dependent/carer grants. In addition, I hope that the compiled data in this article may offer some ideas to conference organizers to accommodate parent-scientists at their meetings.
- American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP): Travel award to ACNP members includes childcare stipend of $80/day/child.
- American Ornithology Society (AOS): In addition to travel awards participants can also apply for a caregiver grant to the AOS annual meeting. On-site childcare facility at the conference hotels and lactation room available at the main meeting venue.
- Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB): Award childcare grants of up to £500 to members attending ASAB conferences or workshops.
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB): Childcare grant up to $1000/family is available to members presenting at the ASBMB annual meeting.
- American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB): Offers childcare grant to ASCB members attending the ASCB/EMBO meeting.
- Australasian Society for Immunology (ASI): Women’s Initiative offers up to AUD 1000 travel award for women members to attend the ASI annual meeting.
- British Neuroscience Association (BNA): BNA-Brain Carer grants offer up to £300 to cover childcare expenses.
- British Society for Cell Biology (BSCB): Provide £250 childcare support to applicants presenting at the meeting.
- Ecological Society of Australia (ESA): In addition to registration discount for families where both parents are presenting the meeting, ESA offers Conference Childcare Travel Grants up to $250 per family.
- Elsevier Family Support Awards: Provides up to $500 per award to early-career researchers attending Cell Symposia.
- Entomological Society of America (ESA): Offers up to $400 per family.
- European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) childcare grants: From January 2019, the organizers of EMBO funded courses and workshop are provided up to €1000 to offset childcare costs incurred by the attendees.
- European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB): Conference Attendance Aid Grant (from €250 to €500) supports ESEB members to the meeting.
- Federation for European Neuroscience Society (FENS): Offers childcare grants up to €400 to attend the FENS Forum meeting.
- Genetics Society of America (GSA): Awards childcare grants to members attending The Allied Genetics Conference.
- Microbiology Society: Eligible members receive £245 for annual conferences and £300 for focused meetings organized by the society.
- National Postdoc Association (NPA): Limiting to one per institution, NPA awards childcare support ($500) in addition to travel award ($500) to postdoctoral attending the annual meeting.
- Open Bioinformatics Foundation Travel Fellowships (OBF): The travel fellowship ($1000) can be used towards childcare costs.
- Society for applied microbiology (SfAM): Care support grant offers £300 for dependent care.
- Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE): On-site daycare facility and also, Carer Travel Awards up to $2000 are available to SMBE members.
- Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR): Offers family care grant up to $400 per family to members attending the meeting.
- The Capstone Editing Carer’s travel grant: Funds up to A$3,000 per year to academic women in Australia and New Zealand.
- The Genetics Society: Carer’s award (up to £60/day) supports members and selected speakers to attend the society organized meetings and events.
- The Physiological Society: Limited number of carers’ fund up to £500 available for attending any meeting or workshop organized by the society.
- Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses and Scientific Conferences offers carer grants.
Below are the societies that offer family-friendly facilities, such as on-site/off-site daycare services for infants and children, a family room and/or nursing room at the conference area: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), American Fisheries Society (AFS), American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), British Ecological Society (BES), Ecological Society of America (ESA), European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) conferences and symposia, Evolution meetings, International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), GSA conferences, International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML), Japan Neuroscience Society (JNS), Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists, Society of Experimental Biology (SEB), Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) and Society for Neuroscience (SFN).
Don’t forget to investigate support from your host institution. Dependent care travel grants for faculty members have been established at Harvard University, Stanford University, UC Irvine, Princeton University, Cornell University, The University of Chicago, Brown University, Vanderbilt University, UCLA, University of Glasgow, and several other institutions. In the United States, childcare professional development awards are offered to postdoctoral researchers by UC San Diego, University of Michigan, Yale University, West Virginia University, Northwestern University and the University of Colorado Denver.
Parent scientists: don’t forget that conferences can help not only your professional development but also your family. Because your participation matters!
About the author:
Madhumala K. Sadanandappa is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH. She is also a member of the GSA’s Conference Childcare Committee. She would like to thank Shivaprasad H. Sathyanaryana for his help in researching this article.