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Organizing Family Support Services at ACM Conferences

By Audrey Girouard, Jon E. Froehlich, Regan L. Mandryk, Mark Hancock

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 63 No. 4, Pages 35-38

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Conferences matter. they offer a one-stop forum for academics and industry professionals alike to communicate recent findings, meet new people, foster collaborations, maintain connections, and nurture a sense of community. Conference attendees who are also parents, however, face a notable barrier: how to attend and gain the aforementioned career benefits while also balancing childcare responsibilities—a challenge Calisi et al.2 refer to as the "childcare-conference conundrum." While all primary caretakers of children are affected, women often experience greater disadvantages due to multiple factors (for example, biological, cultural) further affecting their community participation and, ultimately, their careers. Indeed, recent work studying family formation on academic careers found that a "baby penalty" negatively affected women's but not men's career mobility, with a larger negative impact for women of color.4

To help address these issues, academic and industry conferences are increasingly offering some sort of family-support services (for example, on-site nursing rooms and/or childcare).1 Here, we describe planning, organizing, running, and assessing family-support services at ACM CHI2018—a large (3,500 participants) multidisciplinary conference of researchers and practitioners in human-computer interaction and design; CHI2018 was located in Montreal, Canada.


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