GeoLog

Accessibility at EGU: Parenting at the General Assembly? Yes to the creche!

Accessibility at EGU: Parenting at the General Assembly? Yes to the creche!

As part of EGU’s steps to further accessibility and inclusivity at the General Assembly, we have recently published a dedicated webpage with guidance for parents wanting to bring their children with them to Vienna. Whether you are looking for breastfeeding facilities, wondering about childcare whilst you are presenting or want to bring your 13 year old with you to the conference, this page has many of the answers to questions you may have. If your question isn’t answered on this page, please contact egu2020@copernicus.org for more information.

Facilities include:

  • free childcare for ages 3-8,
  • family rooms with tables, chairs, and some simple games,
  • kid’s corner with bouncy castle and some tables and chairs,
  • breastfeeding room

But what is it really like to have your child with you during EGU? We asked one parent, Clare Bond, to give us her insights and a couple of tips.

 

Childcare at EGU is excellent, much better than my previous experiences. I was single parenting at EGU in 2019, so there was no sharing and negotiating of who goes to which sessions – actually not having to do this is amazing! This did, however, make the childcare essential. But my daughter loved it – making things, playing with things, making friends and playing out in the park in the sun.

 

She also loved the conference, she is quite confident and social, and was not shy about getting sweets from stalls, or stickers, or caps; in fact, you could call her the merchandise queen! But perhaps most of all she loved having her own conference badge and all the pins and stickers she collected, she was definitely part of the conference. EGU was her conference, and not just mine.

 

What made it work was everyone’s positive attitude towards her; the EGU community embraced her presence – from sitting at the front with student conference assistants, to the free merchandise and my great PhD students and post docs who made daisy chains in the park at lunchtime. Vienna is also a great place for a fun break. We arrived in time to watch the Vienna marathon and meet friends, but we also took a day off and went to the zoo – fabulous. We even had an evening at the ballet; children’s tickets are free, or almost so, so it makes it not a crazily expensive option.

 

My tips:

  1. Get accommodation (like an AirBnB) in central Vienna, easy for nipping out and meeting folk in the evening and great for public transport and evening ice creams.
  2. Plan your EGU and your childcare, plan time to spend not at the conference; and take an iPad and headphones so you can sneak into the back of the odd extra session.
  3. Avoid lunchtime queues and ‘unknown’ sandwich combinations by bringing a packed lunch and heading to the park…evening food was actually fairly straight forward – I just told my daughter that Schnitzel would be like the biggest ‘chicken’ nugget she had ever seen – she was suitably impressed!

 

For me the main thing was probably my mindset – going with an 8 year old to a conference is going to be different to being the full professional you; but cut back a bit and think about what you really want to get out of EGU and it can be both great professionally as well as personally.

 

This year EGU is taking additional steps to continue to improve the accessibility and inclusivity of its annual General Assembly. During the next few weeks we will be regularly posting information about the measures the Union is taking, tips and tricks for meeting attendees, and personal stories and advice from people with various experiences who have attended in previous years.

 

We are aware that this only represents the first step toward making our conference accessible to all, so if you have any ideas or advice for us on how to improve accessibility at the General Assembly, please tell us about them – we are willing to learn and keen to improve.

If you have a suggestion please email: communications@egu.eu or send us a message on social media.

Hazel Gibson
Hazel Gibson is the Communications Officer at the European Geosciences Union. She is responsible for the management of the Union's social media presence and the EGU blogs, where she writes regularly for the EGU's official blog, GeoLog. She is also the point of contact for early career scientists (ECS) at the EGU Office. She has a PhD in Geoscience Communication and Cognition from the University of Plymouth in the UK. Hazel tweets @iamhazelgibson.

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