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Reactions to 'In Two Places at Once'

"I loved reading your draft chapter [for the Critical Events Studies book]....It spoke to me on lots of professional and personal levels. I've given it to [my partner] to read so we can understand better what each of us "juggles" with my weekly commute'

Email response, Assistant Professor, 25 June 2018

"I really enjoyed taking part in the research, and am keen to hear the findings. I have been thinking about the research a lot recently as I’m now back at work after maternity leave and planning to attend three conferences between now and October. Two are UK-based and only a couple of days but are fairly soon so I’m trying to work out how to attend and get the most out of them while not being away too long, and also balancing wanting to continue breastfeeding the baby. The third is in October so the baby will be over a year by then, but it’s in Vancouver so a whole load of other issues thrown up by that. The joys of this life!"

Email response, Research Fellow, 22 May 2018

"I am very keen to learn more about how I can manage to combine conference attendance with caring duties. The last few years have seen me unable to attend events due to caring responsibilities (and also departmental support re funding – but that’s another game!). Do please also think about including pets as our caring responsibilities – they are often ‘honorary family’ and deserve our care. Thank you."

Email response, Senior Fellow, 16 May 2018


"I particularly like the concept of 'In Two Places at Once' project. It reminded me of my own struggles of building my career and doctoral research, while caring for my sick father back in [an Indian city]. There were days when I was sitting in [an Australian city] typing my thesis on the computer, while watching over my sick father through skype webcam, as he was lying in bed while recovering from his first stroke, and my mother would have to run all household chores alone before we could find proper nurse/ayah for assistance at home. Any time my father would need assistance, I would call my mother’s phone from [Australian city] to ask her to rush to my father’s room for assistance!"

Email response, Assistant Professor and "transnational academic", 18 April 2018


"I have not been able to attend an academic conference since having my daughter last year. Whilst my partner is extremely supportive, and we share caring responsibilities equally, the fact that I breastfeed our daughter and she needs me in order to sleep at night has meant that I am not able to spend nights away from home. I am no longer attending evening lectures and networking events as frequently as I used to in the past. I had to attend a student residential trip recently and, in order to make this possible, my daughter travelled with me and my mother came with us in order to look after her while I was working during the day. It would have been very difficult to fund the travel expenses for a similar arrangement if I was to attend an international conference. I am concerned about the impact this might have on the career of academics with caring responsibilities."

Email response, Senior Lecturer, 17 November 2017


“Thank you so much for sharing the information about the project - I found it fascinating and my main reaction was one of relief that I am not the only one who feels so horribly guilty attending conferences, having to think about the negotiation with my husband about him needing to look after our daughter overnight and do the school run (usually my role), and then sitting in conferences trying not to worry about whether he's been able to plait her hair and whether she's remembered to take in her homework.”

Email response, Professor, 16 November 2017


"I have just become aware of your research project looking at the effect of caring responsibilities on conference attendance. I was thrilled and relieved to see that pets were included as a caring obligation in the picture on the website. I have two horses and have had my old lady since high school, through two PhDs, two post-docs and my current clinical career as a research physiotherapist. I was always careful not to let my caring responsibilities for her get in the way of my work activities, but this has been very hard on occasions. Pets are a responsibility that is significantly under-recognised in my experience; had I had child-caring responsibilities I suspect I would have been given more flexibility. Ultimately I chose not to pursue a post-doc in equine nutrition (my 1st PhD subject) as this would have meant an international move, and I was not in the position to move my mare with me. She has been my friend for a long time and selling/leaving her behind was not an option – so that precipitated a career change! I don’t think people always understand how important pets are. (Even though I appreciate they are not the same as children – but to some of us they are!)."
Email response, Research Physiotherapist, 4 October 2017

Selected feedback from the project workshop at the Feminist and Women's Studies Association conference, 7th September 2017

"Really great discussions, leaving room for some explorations about what is meant by care and what is meant by responsibility. There are so many possible future projects!"

"Really good, fruitful. Would be good if project could develop recommendations for best practice for conference organisers"

"Nice to have time to pause, write and reflect. Made me consider care in new ways. Recommend conference organisers to build in 'down' time and quiet spaces for those who need a break"

"Great project and valued discussion of self-care within"

"Important to consider experiences of academics in the 'Global South'. Work sounds fascinating, look forward to exploring results further!"

"I think this is an important issue and I'm very pleased to see that it's being investigated as there are so many implications in terms of networking, career progression, community participation and so forth. I noticed your current study focuses on those who are attending conferences and balancing this with caring but I wondered whether you are also going to look at situations where caring prevents conference attendance almost entirely? Our child's disabilities are such that to undertake this kind of travel would require the whole family to go (with associated logistical, time, and cost implications for everyone involved). This makes it essentially impossible currently to attend or present at conferences ('standard' childcare set-ups do not have the training or familiarity needed to provide appropriate care levels). I wondered if this issue is a further 'hidden' problem within this space?"

Email response, Senior lecturer, 6 July 2017

Selected Feedback from Attendees at the 4th July 2017 Findings Event:

Q. What did you like most about the event?

A. Insights into taken for granted issues in HE. So glad both sets of research are being carried out. The whole afternoon was great. Gave me lots to think about personally, but also ideas and questions to take back to my institution. Thank you.

A. Great topic, friendly participants, supportive environment for discussion, lovely space. Topic hugely relevant on an institutional + personal level.

Q. Were the presentations too long/too short?

A. Too short - only in as much as I could listen about and talk about this all day!

Q. Are there any topics to focus on in future presentations?

A. Black academic women and promotion

“It’s an especially pertinent topic for me right now as I’m attending a conference in September, and in doing so missing my daughter’s 5th birthday AND quite possibly her first day at school. The complexities of attending overnight work-trips is a commonly discussed issue among colleagues, so I think it’s a really important project”
Email response, Research fellow, 5 April 2017
“One year I had my children with me at [a] conference and they would not let me bring them into the book vender section because the kids weren't registered for the conference. They were 7 and 9. I haven't been back to that conference.”
Comment posted on Facebook in relation to my blog post, 14 March 2017

“I have 3 children and of course the question of caring for them is complicated by conference attendance, or conference attendance is limited by my endeavour to care for them. But I used to work as an executive before and the question of travels existed already. It was different though. The main difference was that I had less guilt for leaving as it was not primarily my choice. I could negotiate by being proactive on not working on projects that entailed travel or seeking to work in teams with people who were single and very happy to travel, but in the end of the day it was my job and if my boss demanded that I go, I had to. As an academic it is solely my decision and I can always find conferences that are closer from home or shorter. I don't know but it is possible that my guilt is more acute because I am a PhD student, ergo not a real academic, with no real salary to justify abandoning my kids and putting pressure on my husband. Also a theme that I did not find clearly in the presentation of your project (I only skimmed it though) is related to cost of conferences. You describe the relief of a person for not having to care about anything during conferences, but being cared for. As a PhD student I have to organise my travel myself and I spend hours looking for the cheapest flight and hotel to not carry weight in my family budget, and that too influences heavily the choice of conferences to attend. This is a major inequality between PhD students; the ones who have the money to travel and can attend famous conferences have much more chances to find a job in academia at the end of their PhD.”

Email response, doctoral researcher, 14 March 2017

“I just read your blog on Facebook and loved it! ... And I have attended many conferences over the past 20 years - as a single ECR [early career researcher], as a mother of one, then as a family of three, and then a mother of two, and family of four, more latterly I find myself the invited Keynote presenter travelling alone - simultaneously free of caring responsibilities and bereft at the distance between me and my ‘babies’. The role of Skype is an interesting one for staying in touch while away - but it also has the capacity to break everyone’s heart, and temporality also underscores the separation (blowing goodnight kisses to your children as you are having breakfast!).”

Email response to project blog post, professor, 14 March 2017

“[Your project] definitely resonated because I'm bringing my 2 year old with me [to a conference] (with my 19 year old baby sitting during the day!)... I think it is so valuable what you are researching!”
Email response, Lecturer, 22 February 2017