A reader writes:
I am currently running a small one-day conference, and our first announcements included the line:
> If you would like to attend but childcare duties render your attendance difficult, please email by March 6th; the organisers hope to assist participants with childcare needs.
We hoped that by offering to offset childcare costs for participants we would make it easier for philosophers with childcare responsibilities to attend.
I earmarked $200 to meet childcare needs, with the following thought: if one person took up the offer, we would pay about 70-80% of their childcare costs. If two or three people contacted me, we would offset about 60% of their costs each. If four people contacted me, we would give them $50 each to offset their child-minding costs.
We would give participants this money, on receipt of a receipt by their child-minder, to remove some of the extra attendance costs they incur in virtue of being parents/guardians.
If more than four people contacted me — well, to be honest I didn’t have a plan for this scenario. Offering less than $50 each seems a bit insignificant when child-minding for a day (in our area) costs about $100-$120. But perhaps if more than four had contacted me we might have looked into hiring an on-site child-minder. Of course this can generate other technical/legal issues. Maybe I would have not given child-care money to anyone, or determined some criteria for giving money to some rather than others (i.e. lower income families rather than higher-income families). I was going to cross the more-than-four bridge only if we got there!
In writing the original sentence I wanted to maintain discretionary power; I didn’t want to promise money before knowing how many people would reply.
As it happened, no one contacted me to take up this offer.
The reason I am posting this information here is that some discussion of the idea might mean others consider doing something similar. Conference budgets often include food and drinks, and travel for the keynote. It would be nice if in the future philosophy conference budgets standardly included child-minding costs too.
Of course I was fortunate — my conference had $200 that I could earmark, and was small enough that I didn’t expect many people to respond to the offer. But perhaps some discussion at Feminist Philosophers might enable other people to do something similar?