Financial support for primary caregivers presenting at the Windsor CSZ meeting

Dear CSZ members,

Support for human diversity in all its forms in our membership is an implicit core value of the Canadian Society of Zoologists. Because the single most important event in the CSZ calendar is the Annual Meeting, and the social and scientific interactions associated with it, ensuring that all our members are able to attend the meeting is essential for the society. The highest attrition of female and diverse researchers is at the Early Career Researcher stage (ECR, by which I broadly mean graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty), and one factor for this is that the ECR years are also when researchers are most likely to start families. Caring for young children places both logistical and financial constraints on young parents that prevent them from attending scientific meetings, and therefore miss out on the career and mentoring benefits of conferences. As well as childcare, we note that ECRs may also act as primary caregivers for infirm family members or those with disabilities (with similar resulting challenges), and we want to support those members, too.

 

There are several models for supporting childcare at meetings. Recently, CSZ Local Organising Committees (LOCs) have offered to connect parents to local daycare providers (childcare at cost to parents). Anecdotally, no one has taken the LOCs up on this offer, which has led to the misperception that the LOCs did nothing about childcare. We surveyed CSZ members, and found that primary caregivers were using a range of strategies to meet their childcare needs, and that on-site daycare was seldom the best approach for many parents. Thus, we will provide a direct financial supplement for primary caregivers to help to offset the financial burden of attending the meeting, and allowing them the flexibility to determine the best way to make this work for them.

 

CSZ will provide supplements of up to $500 to individuals who are primary caregivers, with a heavy focus towards supporting ECRs. Two important things to note:

  • Although the language mostly focuses on childcare, we also recognise that members may be primary caregivers for disabled or infirm dependents, and we welcome applications from individuals in such circumstances.
  • The dependent doesn’t have to travel to the meeting for the caregiver to be eligible for this supplement. They could use this to arrange daycare at the meeting, to subsidise the cost of an accompanying spouse or grandparent, to pay for additional daycare at home… it doesn’t matter. We know that everyone will have their own way of making this work, and we support that.

We will post the formal Terms of Reference for this opportunity on the CSZ Website – Please note that the deadline for applications is 31 January 2019.

 

I am very excited about this new initiative, and thank Georgina Cox, Anne Dalziel, Heath MacMillan, and the CSZ Council for their support in developing and realising this initiative.

 

Brent Sinclair

President – Canadian Society of Zoologists