The committee will assess current childcare support at GSA meetings and make recommendations for improvement.

Parent scientists know firsthand that many scientific conferences fail to provide adequate support for attendees with children. Indeed, Calisi et al. discussed the “childcare-conference conundrum” in detail earlier this year, outlining the barriers parents face and making suggestions for how conferences can better support them. The bottom line is this: when parents—and disproportionately, mothers—are unable to attend scientific conferences because the conferences don’t adequately support them, they can face career penalties. These individual setbacks reverberate throughout the larger scientific enterprise, and it’s up to us as conference hosts to help tackle the problem.

GSA Conferences are an integral part of our mission to foster an international community of geneticists. It’s important to us that we work hard to make our conferences equitable, welcoming spaces for all scientists to participate in the sharing of discovery and the advancement of their fields. We believe that knocking down as many barriers to participation as we can helps us build the strongest scientific community. To this end, we are forming a committee to gauge how well our conferences currently support parent scientists and other primary caregivers and, most importantly, to explore and recommend new initiatives for the future.

We want to make sure that we provide support for a wide range of parental needs, including practical and monetary considerations for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childcare. We also want the culture of our conferences to explicitly convey our support for parent scientists so that when you attend a GSA Conference, you know we’ve got your back.

If you’d like to be a part of helping us achieve these goals, please volunteer for the committee and send us your ideas and input. We expect to hold our first committee meeting in November 2018, with a tentative goal of making initial recommendations during Spring 2019.

(The volunteer period is now closed. Thanks to all those who expressed interest in being a part of this new initiative.)