Your women's networking event; mothers need to plan

This post is inspired by a specific event, but I have contacted the organisers privately with a specific complaint/suggestion, so I’m not posting this publicly to slam them, or naming them here. But I think the ideas are more generally useful.

If you run career networking events for women (or anyone! but it’s more obvious if they’re targeted at women) you need to make it possible for mothers to attend them. Not all women are mothers, but a substantial fraction are.

How can you do this? Well, childcare for children from 0 to 12 or so would be awesome, but I realise it’s expensive and logistically difficult (certified safe space, insurance, qualified carers in the right ratios…). Here’s something that isn’t: specific advance publicity. That is, publicity that announces date, time (start and finish, or at least finish of the formal bit, eg “6pm to 8pm with socialising until whenever!”) and location. Because here’s what a mother will have to do:

  • there’s good odds a mother needs to be sure someone else will care for her child during your event. That someone else might be a co-parent who has a life of their own to plan, or it might be a non-household member (same) or a paid carer who needs to be booked (and budgeted for!) in advance
  • if your event is on a day when she does care, she will probably need to dress especially for your event
  • if your event is on a day when she does care, she will probably have to travel especially for your event

The appropriate minimum notice period is at least a week.

As a bonus, this is also helpful to part-time workers, unemployed people and students, all of whom all have to dress especially and travel in order to attend most networking events, and busy people, for that matter, and people who work in casual-dress jobs.

A slight tangent, but something else I wish networking events did: be more specific about the catering. So many go from, say, 6pm to 9pm and specify something about a “light meal”, which in the extreme can constitute a couple of spring rolls per person. I’m a long-term breastfeeder, at the height of production I’ve had to eat something like five substantial meals in a day. Even before I was pregnant, I ate good sized dinners. I understand that your event likely won’t have a full sit-down meal, but I’d much rather get info like “light snacks will be provided, there’s a food court at $address if you want to eat beforehand” than “our sponsors are catering a meal! awesome $sponsor!” when it turns out I will need to leave early (in tears, because noise and hunger overwhelm me) and buy a whole second meal at 9pm.