We’re tossing around a lot of ideas as we dive deeper into preparing PyCon 2013, and one that came up was the offering of childcare services. We’re planning some big things for the upcoming conference and we want everyone to be involved. Whether you’re a local who would like to spend a few extra days at the sprints or an out of towner who wants to tack PyCon on the end of a family vacation, we’d like to find out who would consider taking advantage of such services…
If you have children and are considering attending PyCon, we hope you can spare one or two minutes for this quick survey at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dE9NTEt0Z1hTU2h5TEo1UVZTY1pEYVE6MQ
Childcare is a difficult issue for event organizers: carers are so used to it not being offered at technical events that they often make a decision either not to attend an event without checking, or find out about the childcare too late to book it. Establishing and growing a tradition of offering quality childcare at your event year-after-year is needed to allow parents and carers to plan to attend your event. And since women are disproportionately primary carers of children, this potentially increases the proportion of women attending your event too. We hope the initiative of PyCon and other open tech conferences to canvass offering childcare to attendees becomes more widespread!
We’ve found at the Ada Initiative that attending events, or travelling for work at all, is prohibitively expensive for carers who cannot leave their child at home for the duration of the trip. Many tax regimes do not allow employers to provide a dependent child’s travel or childcare as a tax-exempt benefit, and may even punitively tax such benefits. Thus, the carer usually pays for their child’s travel and accommodation, pays full price to hold open their child’s long-term care position at home if any, and pays for care at their destination as well. Events cannot offset the entire cost of bringing dependent children to events, but contributing to the cost of the destination care is very welcome. Local event organizers or staff are also often better placed to research the availability of care for children in their area than travelling carers are, even if they cannot subsidize the cost of it.
Want to offer childcare at your event? The Geek Feminism wiki has a guide to childcare options at geek events. If your event already offers childcare, you can also add it to the list on that page.