Monday, June 27, 2011

Program committees on the weekend: a question of priorities

Why do program committee meetings often take place during the weekend? Because people have other work commitments during the week, and it is hard to get them all together at the same time.

But what about family commitments? Those don't count. People have some flexibility and can always shift things around, it is assumed.

Why can't people shift things around at work as well? Because some of those are hard constraints.

But at home also, some constraints are hard: of a child is performing on a school play for example, that cannot be moved to another date.

I think that there is an unspoken assumption that gives priority to work over family time.


  1. Claire --

    Do program committee meetings often take place during the weekend? I've been lowering my PC participation, and so many are online these days, so my memory is a little fuzzy. But my next in-person PC meeting is scheduled for a Tuesday. And when I was PC chair for STOC, the meeting was Thurs-Fri.

    A supposed advantage of a faculty job is flexibility -- you can take time off during the week, you can work on weekends, depending on your needs. But you're right that just because one can work on weekends does not mean others should assume that one will be available.

    The answer, though, seems simple. If you don't want to work on the weekend, and the PC meeting is scheduled for a weekend, say you can't agree to serve on the PC.

  2. A related issue that could affect more people: STOC/FOCS/SODA is typically (when not collocated with FCRC) from Sunday to Tuesday, with tutorials or other events on Saturday. Apparently, the motivation for this choice of days is to make the conference less disruptive for work, at the cost of making it more disruptive for family life.

  3. Speaking of PCs ... that total ordering is sure taking you a long time :)

  4. Yes, I am itching to write comments about the FOCS PC work, but I have a feeling that my PC chair would not like it. As I have the greatest respect for authority, I meekly comply. You won't read anything interesting here about the FOCS PC.


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