Childcare in academia: hall of fame

Balancing work and family can be stressful, but balancing an academic career and family can be even worse. A lot of travelling to present your own work and network to find new collaborators and ideas, visiting periods abroad and social events undermine the fundamental component of family life management: routine.

I am a young researcher with five great lucky cards: a husband who's always ready to help and has a flexible framily-friendly job, a financial situation that allows extra expenses sometime, a children-friendly society, retired grandparents willing to travel and a very cooperative sweet toddler. If one of these lucky cards would be missed from my hand, I would be in great distress. I can travel (alone or along with family) because my family has the money to afford it (funny-depressing fact: my babysitter hourly wage is only 3 euros shorter than mine). I can work and quite freely decide my schedule because the country I live in supports me with affordable childcare services and with good family policies. My daugther misses me when I'm gone, but she never went crazy. I even brought her to a couple of meetings. Balancing the two aspects means also trying not to deprive my kid of quality time and that is one of the reasons I take family often along in my trips or why I absolutely need flexibility in my working schedule.

Even those all these problems are gender-free, I am convinced they affect mostly women, and this is why:

  • there's a different bond between a mother and her kids, than the one between a father and his kids. This is not a scientific fact, it only comes from my personal experience in observing my kid's reactions to my trips or my husband's. Several female colleagues of mine had the same impression. Basically my kid is much sadder when I'm gone, than when my husband is. Then add breastfeeding years to the mix.
  • Women tend to have kids at the early stages of their academic career (that coincides with the last years of the peak of fertility), while men can afford to have kids in their late thirties, when they are on tenure track. Women miss out on the most important years of an academic career (and not always this is taken into account when hiring).
  • Even though it's 2015, the social pressure of being a good present parent is much stronger on women than men. In US 96% of fathers take less than two weeks off when their child is born. Long parental leaves mostly taken by women also mean that a man researcher has more chances of going working abroad followed by the family, not affecting the household economics much nor the partner's job stability.

Now let's go back to the gender-free big picture. I bet the frequent travelling is not all joys for fathers either, especially divorced and single dads. It's no fun for the partner who follows with the kids and it's not nice to leave the family behind for several weeks (if not months) a year either. All the above reasons motivate my commitment to promote childcare services in the academic life. Often implementing childcare services is a limited effort that can make a sensible difference for many. It's a leap forward gender equality and equal opportunities.

This post is my personal hall of fame of institutions, events and conferences that offer childcare services or grants. I deeply thank all people who sent and will send me information, I hope this list will be useful for many. If you know of other links, do no hesitate to comment below or contact me. Feel free to copy, share and distribute the list or portions of it. In include a map below, to show how these resources are geographically distributed (it doesn't work on all browsers, unfortunately).

Conferences: childcare on site or childcare grants

last update: 4.11.2015


AIP 2015 - Finland

SIAM MI09 - USA    SIAM meetings guidelines on childcare   SIAM CSE15 - USA   SIAM IS2016 - USA

EWM meeting 2007 - UK    EWM meeting 2015 - Germany

JMM 2016 - USA    JMM 2015 - USA

Workshop on Analytic Number Theory 2014 - Germany

MAA MathFest - USA

Finnish Mathematical Days 2016

Biology and chemistry

ESEB2015 - Switzerland

SMBE 2016 - Australia

Entomology 2014 - USA

ASCB 2015 - USA

Physics and Astronomy

MRS 2015 - USA

AAS 2016 - USA

AAPT 2014 - USA

Geophysics and Geoscience

EGU 2015 - Austria

AGU 2014 - USA


American Historical Association 2016 - USA


Microbiology Society - Europe

Mathematical Institute - University of Oxford, UK

London Mathematical Society - UK

Franklin Women - Australia

Australian Mathematical Society - Australia

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - Canada (search "childcare")

American Institute of Mathematics - USA

USC WiSE programme - USA


Society for Systematic Biologists - UK

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology - USA

American Physical Society - USA

Institutions & others

Cornell University - USA

Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics - USA

University of Marburg - Germany   link 2   link 3  link 4

University of Minnesota - USA

Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing - USA

University of Edinburgh - UK

University of Groninger - The Netherlands

University of Regensburg - Germany

UCL voucher scheme - UK

University of Darmstadt - Germany

Blog posts & other

(I include some posts found online on the topic. I don't necessarily share all the views of the authors of the following posts)

Balancing Parenthood and Academia Work/Family Stress as Influenced by Gender and Tenure Status - Elizabeth M. O’Laughlin and Lisa G. Bischoff

Association for Women in Mathematics: childcare statement

Making Conferences Easier for Families by Evelyn Lamb

Matilde Lalin on Attending conferences with small children

Grants aim to help women by Karen Kaplan

Women in sciences get help balancing academic career, family by Cynthia Lee

New initiatives offer child care solutions to traveling scientists by Elisabeth Pain

Professor Mommy: Finding Work-Family Balance in Academia by Rachel Connelly and Kristen Ghodsee

AAUP: Balancing Family & Academic Work

The baby penalty by Mary Ann Mason


Paola Elefante

Digital Scaling Project Manager at Plan International. Proud mother & wife. Shameless nerd&geek. Feminist. Undercover gourmet.

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