Sunday, October 12, 2008

ICWIP: Day 3

I might as well as stayed in bed for the last morning's plenary sessions. As it was, I was late for the first talk, so I'd already missed most of it. The second speaker had poor speaking skills in any language. She rambled, she went off on tangents, and she went far over time. Her highly-accented English only added to the problem.

The rest of the morning was spent discussing and voting on the resolutions of the Working Group on Women in Physics, which are to be presented at the IUPAP general assembly this week. Really, most of them are pretty straightforward. The bulk of the commentary was based on the fact that so many different nations of different sizes and wealth were represented, and this meant that the needs of one group were not necessarily representative of the whole. For example, in the discussion about the global survey (resolution #5), the question of how to define a physicist was brought up. Do you include physics teachers in the definition of physicist? Now for some nations, it makes more sense to only include those with post-graduate degrees. However, in some nations, those teachers might be the highest educated physicists in those countries. In the end, the resolutions were passed unanimously: the resolutions really are pretty straightforward.

I commented on the feedback for conference organizers that childcare needs were poorly dealt with for this particular conference. However, it wasn't until after the conclusion of the meeting while I was talking with people, that it occurred to me that conference childcare was hardly addressed at all. Now I wish I had brought it up. After all, so many of us women physicists are affected by childcare issues. Could the Working Group have made a resolution regarding providing conference childcare at IUPAP meetings, for example? Or is that reaching too far? After all, the question of who would pay for the childcare then becomes an issue. For my own perspective, I felt like I had the responsibility to take care of my childcare needs on my own, but then again, I've become used that perspective. How many women were prevented from coming because of childcare needs? Well, they didn't come to have their voices heard, so perhaps we'll never know.

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