scientific meetings with infant

Dorothee Guenzel guenzel at
Sun Jun 22 06:25:38 EST 1997

Hi Anita,

>I am planning to travel in the fall to a scientific meeting with my
>three month old infant.

I had attended a scientific meeting with my daughter, when she was only 8 
weeks old (and she wasn't the youngest baby at that meeting!). Of course I, 
too, had a baby-sitter with me. As I was still breast-feeding her, I worked 
out my time-table (there were lots of parallel talks) and wrote down, when 
I could be found in which room. I also tried to sit in roughly the same 
place in every room (something like: left corner in the back) so I could 
easily be found and discreetly steal out of the room.
At that meeting, I didn't go to any evening events, as I was far too tired. 
However, by fall your child will be about half a year and things will 
already be easier. At later meetings I have done both, taken her with me 
for dinners, but increasingly, went on my own. The problem about taking the 
child with you is, that you are distracted, even when it is asleep. You 
can't concentrate on the discussions of the people around you, but when the 
child wakes up, you also can't properly concentrate on the child (which the 
child usually finds quite annoying!). Although people always were very 
positive about being accompanied by a baby, my advice would be, if 
possible, go to the dinners on your own and enjoy your "freedom" for a few 
hours (if that is ok with your mom).
Another point is that, if you take the child with you, the people around 
you often start to only talk about children, even if you want to discuss 
science. And that can be quite frustrating at times, because it gives you 
the feeling of not being taken seriously as a scientist (even if this is 
not at all intended by the others).
On the other hand, a positive thing about taking a baby to a meeting is 
that you suddenly notice that there are several other women in the same 
situation and this can sometimes be a great comfort.

In any case, enjoy your meeting!

Best wishes

 My mom has agreed to come with me and 
>watch the baby while I am attending meetings and (hopefully)
>presenting my own work.  I would appreciate any advice from people
>who have done similar trips.  Anything I can do or plan in advance to
>get the most out of the meeting and make it easiest on all of us?  What 
>do you think about evenings?  Is it appropriate to go to dinner with other
>researchers and invite mom and baby along (provided baby is having a well
>behaved night) or should I forgo this type of interaction unless I leave
>mom and baby behind or am meeting people I know very well (e.g. colleagues
>from my own institution).  
>p.s. congratulations Sarah!

More information about the Womenbio mailing list