Why Mothers (and Fathers) Need Childcare Options at Professional Meetings

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I previously blogged here about the AALS decision to reinstate (temporarily) child care at the Annual Meeting.  That decision is in response to multiple requests, most recently (and notably) from the Work-Life Committee of the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education. Laura Kessler (Utah) and the members of that subcommittee explained to the AALS in a 10-page letter why reinstatement of childcare is important for the advancement of women in legal education.  Here is an excerpt:

[I]nformation suggests that enrollments were actually on the rise in the two years prior to the AALS decision to discontinue child care; 41 children enrolled in the AALS sponsored child care in 2009 and 59 children in 2008, compared with numbers around 20 to 30 in the years prior to that. Compared to enrollments in similar annual meeting child care programs, such as that offered by the Law and Society Association, these enrollment figures are actually quite robust. Moreover, as discussed above, we are hopeful that with better publicity, enrollments will continue on an upward trend. In sum, the AALS’s justification of low enrollment is less persuasive when participation figures are assessed in relation to prior years and the experience of similar organizations.

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The AALS’s decision to discontinue its child care program at the Annual Meeting is likely to disparately affect female members of the Association, because women remain primarily responsible for child care. The negative impact is multiplied considering that the affected women are less likely to have tenure and therefore are most in need of the opportunities and benefits the Annual Meeting affords. The AALS has made notable efforts over the years to advance the cause of women in the profession at all stages of their careers…. If the organization truly values the role of women faculty, however, the child care issue must be addressed.

A full copy of Professor Kessler’s letter, on behalf of the Section, is available after the fold.

-Bridget Crawford

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