Waiving Guest Registration Fees For New Parents (UPDATED!)

As a few of my recent posts indicate, I’ve been thinking about travel and how having a new baby might affect it. Next week, I’ll head off to the Evolution meeting with my 3 month old in tow. My mother and sister will meet me in Utah, and will watch my baby while I attend the meeting. I’ll need to meet up with them every 2 hours or so to nurse him. (The boy is like clockwork in wanting to eat every 2 hours!) On Sunday afternoon/evening, this is going to be a bit challenging: I will be giving a talk in the American Society of Naturalists (ASN) Vice Presidential Symposium on Sunday afternoon, and then there are two different events I’d like to attend on Sunday at 5 (including an ASN Faculty-Student Mixer), followed by Dolph Schluter’s ASN Presidential address at 6. So, I’m hoping to minimize the amount of time I need to spend running off to feed my baby.

Which is when I had this idea:

Right now, it costs $195 to register a family member. (Maybe that is just for receptions? If so, it’s not clear how to register a family member just so they can get into the meeting. When I tried to do this online, it just shows the $195 option.) That’s too much to pay for the convenience of being able to spend a bit longer at the meeting. The fee at the ESA meeting is $45. It seems like something that could pretty easily be waived for people who need to meet up with caretakers.  I think it would be a great way for societies to show that they are family friendly and support young parents.


UPDATE: Michele Dudash, a member of the Evolution 2013 organizing committee, has written to say that the companion registration “includes all receptions (7 coffee breaks  during the day and 5 night receptions (Fri-Tues) including the banquet on Tuesday evening.” She also writes that “family members who do not wish to participate in any of Evol2013 day or evening receptions or events. . . can come to Snowbird as any other Snowbird visitor, and relax until each feeding time with the little one.  There will be no registration fees if the companion does not partake of any of the socials or the meeting, except for the Gould Lecture, which is free to all.” So, for Evolution 2013, guest registration is not needed in order to simply meet up for a baby hand off, which is great.

Thanks to the Evolution 2013 organizers for writing so promptly! They are doing lots of other good things related to women in science — as I’ve noted on twitter, there are lots of women invited speakers in the symposia, and they are holding a Women in Science panel on Saturday at lunch (free, but registration required) — so it’s not surprising that they’ve been responsive here.

15 thoughts on “Waiving Guest Registration Fees For New Parents (UPDATED!)

  1. Hi Megan, this is Liza from ESA communications. The guest registration is really for family members who want to join you on field trips and social events (and partake of the coffee breaks), or go into the exhibition hall. Your mother and sister can meet you in any of the public spaces of the convention center without registering as guests — basically, just not inside the scientific session rooms, where you probably don’t want to meet anyway! We’ve had queries from a few women who need to pump, or want to breastfeed away from the bustle of the meeting without retreating to their hotel rooms. You are welcome to go into the childcare area to nurse your baby, if you like (you are welcome to nurse in the open hall if you like, too!). I’m not sure about the security arrangements, but I imagine the KiddieCorp folks would let your mother and sister keep you company.

    • Thank you very much for the reply! At ESA, I’ve never been able to get in the door to the conference center without showing my badge. Is that going to be different this year? If people without badges can enter the conference center, that would be very helpful!

      • Really? I’ve been to the last two ESA meetings and haven’t had to show a badge to get in…

      • Huh, that’s interesting. I wasn’t at ESA last year, but in at least some previous years I haven’t been able to enter the conference center without showing my badge. I remember this especially being the case in Pittsburgh. Maybe it depends on the venue and who they use for security?

      • You must be right about the venue; I didn’t go to Pittsburgh. (Had small baby and was about to move.) Good to keep an eye on this, and thanks for bringing it to the conference organizers’ attention.

      • Hmmm, well…I don’t know why you encountered security at the door in Pittsburgh. Conference centers are public buildings, open to anyone who wanders in. And we have new people and press coming badge-less through the door every day who not yet registered, so stopping them at the door would be a problem! We only check for badges at the exhibition hall. At Minneapolis there will be no security that we do not hire, so I don’t think this will be a problem, but If you do run into a problem this year, please tell us and we will solve it.

      • Thanks so much for following up, Liza! I really appreciate it. It’s great to hear that it shouldn’t be a problem for people to enter the conference center overall. Sadly, I won’t be there this year, as I already have two other conference trips planned. But hopefully next year!

    • Hi Liza: having been a pumping mom at an ESA meeting, I’d like to suggest that ESA organizers try to organize a pumping room that is separate from the childcare rooms. Unlike breastfeeding, which feels somewhat normal to do in the presence of babies and their caretakers, pumping around other people is awkward and difficult for many moms. I made do with the pump-in-the-childcare room, but a private space would be much more preferable. (And for the record, I imagine some moms would prefer a private space to nurse, too, instead of doing it in the childcare room.)

      • I certainly understand wanting privacy! Space has been at a premium for the last couple of years, but we may be able to find a solution for future meetings — at the hotel, if not the conference center. Logistics are outside my bailiwick, but I can bring it up.

      • Okay. Seems to me that many of the computer testing rooms are often empty. Maybe one of them can be repurposed?

  2. I was a bit confused about this suggestion, as it’s been my experience that one can always wander around convention center hallways at scientific meetings without any sort of credentials.

  3. As far as ESA goes – its my experience that it all depends on the venue. There is always some place that lets you get to the registration desk open to all (otherwise how could you register) but there’s always a billion people there and no place to sit down. Not exactly a great place to hang with a small child to make the mommy connection. And most particularly, the child care room or any reasonable place to feed a baby is not in this open area. The more sedate areas outside of the conference rooms with tables, the ability to talk and check in, etc and especially rooms to nurse are sometimes open (e.g. Portland) but definitely sometimes behind a guard who won’t let you in without a badge. I remember Montreal very clearly – in my case I just had forgotten my badge and deserved to be sent back to my hotel room but it wouldn’t have worked for the situation Meg raises. It would have involved babysitter standing in a very crowded room and waiting – handing off the baby without saying hi, mommy ducking back into the secure areas to find a place to nurse, coming back and handing the baby off again. And mom still would have wasted 20 minutes round trip coming out to the registration desk. Logistically feasible – certainly. Welcoming, convenient or family friendly – not exactly. I think I recall Pittsburgh being that way as well.Seems to depend most on the configuration of the convention center but that is not predictable to an attendee in advance.

    I am mostly speaking on this with the voice of experience from the other side – somebody who has brought a baby to professional conferences to meet mom every couple of hours (although her confrences were for therapists). We often worked it down to my knowing which conference room she would be coming out of and meeting her outside the door. That way she could actually have a conversation with people attending the talk and let the burden be on me to get there instead of racing away 1/4 mile to get to the registration desk. Anything less is really taking time away from mom being at the conference.

    And from that point of view I would have to say that ecology (presumably all academic) conferences feel less welcoming. Even in the facilities where I can get to the conference rooms without a badge, I am always acutely aware that I’m not supposed to be walking around without a badge (people checking for badges around the coffee table, the vendor hall, etc). I think it would be pretty intimidating to a spouse or parent to venture very far into such a conference. I have never asked a non-attendee to meet me inside the conference hall for this reason. I never had the same vibe at my wife’s professional (non-academic) conferences.

    Seems to me if conferences have the assumption that people are free to meet guests in these areas (or if the expectation is you’re not really but exceptions can be made for family circumstances) it would be nice to make it a policy instead of just something you hope you can get away with depending on the architecture of the convention center.

  4. Pingback: Nursing rooms at Evolution 2013! #Evol2013 | Dynamic Ecology

  5. Pingback: Science-ing as a pregnant postdoc | Supplementary Materials

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