Offer a free crèche
A free crèche means that attendees don’t have to worry about arranging childcare (or leaving a child for their partner to look after).
If you have a young child and you want to go to a conference, you either have to find childcare while you’re away, or your partner has to look after your child for the day. That’s expensive and/or potentially annoying for your partner, and even harder if you’re a single parent. (And the burden of childcare disproportionately falls on women, who are usually underrepresented at tech conferences.)
Quite a few conferences solve this problem with a free crèche. If you have a young child, you sign up in advance, and the conference hires registered and qualified childminders to look after children during conference hours. The adults can focus on the conference, and they know their kids are being looked after safely.
Things to consider:
- Which hours the childcare covers, and when it finishes
- Which parts of the conferences you can bring kids to (talks, dinner, after-party, etc.)
- Parents will want to know who’s looking after their children. Be ready to provide details of your childcare provider.
A consistent challenge is getting people to use the crèche. You book it, you run it, and people turn up and say, “I wish I’d known about this!”, and it goes underused. I don’t have good answers for that one yet.
- A Conference Crèche How To, by Tom Bennett provides more detail on actually running a crèche. The conference in question was in education, not tech, but the same principles apply.