Hi Maha

Just coming here from our Twitter conversation. I’m in complete agreement with the idea that child-friendly professional events help very much to broaden options for equitable participation, and as a feminist I think we have to keep pushing for everyone to recognise our assumptions about the careers of both women and men who are primary carers of children.

But flipping the question for a moment and thinking about who also pays the cost of this: from my daughters I’ve learned that my going away for work has had much less impact on them than my pattern of work when I’ve been home.

I believe kids learn good things about reciprocity from working parents. But realistically this means thinking about when the gesture is returned. I’m not sure I’ve always done this well. I’ve worked evenings and weekends and missed more events in their lives than I’ve attended. The social and online dimension to global academic work mean that unless I’m careful, their everyday experience of me is as someone who is more or less persistently more interested in what’s happening somewhere else. And I’m not sure, as they’ve got older, that I’ve always recognised the boundaries of my home as also being the boundaries of their home.

On reflection, I’ve gone to conferences and asked my family to manage that; and at other times I’ve chosen not to go because they asked me not to. And I think that’s been the thing that’s turned out to be important, and the thing that has changed most as my daughters have grown from being little ones into teenagers: does everyone get a chance a fair chance to ask for what they need, and a turn at getting it?