Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Conference Time

Since little one was born I've been to 3 conferences and one meeting at my home institution. For each of the 3 conferences I travelled to my husband and the baby came along. The most recent conference we were able to get the university to pay for my husbands travel expenses as part of a program they have to help postdocs and young faculty with travel if they have small children. This was fantastic.

However I'm starting to think that there is almost no point in going to a conference if I bring little one along. I say almost no point, because of course I got the exposure of giving a talk each time which is a good thing. The other point of conferences though it is socialize with your peers at coffee and dinner. With little one along for the ride I have to dash around to feed her in the breaks, and at dinner. I could pump instead - which I did at the meeting at my home institution - but even then I'm dashing around in the breaks to have enough time to pump, and have no time to socialize. The solution - longer breaks to accomodate nursing mothers, and others who need more time for whatever reason - but of course meetings are almost always scheduled to bursting point, so I don't see that happening.

The most recent meeting was particularly bad as every session ran at least a few minutes over - to a maximum of 1 1/2 hours (no kidding) one morning. This time was made up by shortening the breaks, which most people seemed just fine with, but then all they had to do was grab a coffee/lunch and head back into the room. With little one around I really needed more time than that. I felt like I spent the whole meeting catching up with myself. It was not conducive to socializing, or really taking much in of all the really interesting talks. This was supposed to be a family friendly meeting too - and there was more than one "Astronomom" present (although I was the only one still nursing I think). In other respects the organizers were very accomodating to little one's needs, but I suspect that all I will remember from that meeting in years to come will be the terrible run overs in each session.

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