Blog Equitable Conferencing: Caregivers Perspectives and Prospects

Equitable Conferencing: Caregivers Perspectives and Prospects – An Introduction

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by Shilpa Viswanath, PhD and Jamie Levine Daniel, PhD:

Academic conferences, an essential component of academic life, contribute a whole new element to the parenting and caregiving challenge. Academic conferences are a hotbed for professional networking, career collaborations and for advancing one’s research. Attending conferences are especially indispensable for graduate and doctoral students as well as junior faculty members, given the opportunities to further their academic careers.

Yet, conferences are notoriously long-drawn, involve travel and are expensive to attend. For parents and caregivers in academia, the barriers to conferencing are further complicated with sparse or absent childcare support. This blog symposium series on ‘Equitable Conferencing’ conceptualizes conferences as an extension of the workplace, and brings together students parents/caregivers, faculty parents/caregivers and practitioner parents/caregivers in the field of public administration to share personal narratives of struggles and strains involved while attempting to conference and also be a parent or caregiver. 

Our symposium contributors, ASPA leadership, doctoral students, and faculty, approach issues of conference logistics, costs, (lack of) facilities and other barriers to conference participation (including childcare and dependent care responsibilities). Contributors also discuss frameworks to achieve an equitable conference environment, and means of financing conference childcare and dependent care support. This symposium also sheds light on new initiatives implemented by certain professional organizations in the field such as Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) and Law & Society Association, both, who offer conference childcare grants (between $250-$500) in the form of monetary compensation to participants with children. These grants help cover extra expenses incurred for caregiving services. Other organizations such as the American Political Science Association (APSA) provide on-site conference childcare support at subsidized rates for children between 6months to 12 years of age. 

To begin this series, Dr. Elizabeth Berkowitz highlights the needs of nursing mothers who attend conferences. In her blog post, she explores the idea of nursing pods at academic conferences which create a secure space for nursing mothers to pump and store milk, while participating in a conference. This is intended to be a productive dialogue, we welcome further online discussion and practical suggestions to address equitable conferencing. To contribute to this symposium, kindly send a 500 word blog post to If you have any questions, please contact one of the blog series editors: Shilpa Viswanath, and Jamie Levine Daniel,

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About the authors:

Dr. Shilpa Viswanath is an Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. And, faculty affiliate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for South Asia. Her research and teaching engage in themes of gender and social equity; labor unions and local governments, and, are rooted in her identities of being an immigrant in the United States, a faculty woman of color and a mother. She presently serves on the executive board of American Society for Public Administration’s Section for Women in Public Administration and, on the board of the Section for International and Comparative Administration.

Dr. Jamie Levine Daniel is an assistant professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. Her research focuses on the relationship between nonprofit resource acquisition and program service delivery, with particular experience interest on the relationship between earned revenue and mission.