Let's start with the issue, where events held during the standard working day assume that people either:
- Are sufficiently their own boss, with suitable staff cover or time management, to decide "I'm going to this".
- Or, have management who realise the value of such events and are willing and able to arrange time out of work for them.
- Or, are willing and able to book their own holiday time to attend.
(Bear in mind that for many museum and gallery staff, their normal working week also includes weekends, and for some it includes regular evenings up to 10.00pm, but I'm talking broad strokes here)
Some networks do meet outside usual working hours, like Emerging Museum Professionals groups who arrange pub socials, yet it feels like a leap happens from the few "Your role means you need to meet after work" groups to suddenly every opportunity being "You can join us 11am to 2pm Thursday, right? There'll be sandwiches!". Many 'emerged' museum professionals are still in situations where staff levels and duties make three to five hours out of a working day complex to manage.
What could possible solutions to this leap look like?
Positively, there's a greater trend for online meetings and conferences making videos available afterwards, which allows an increase in access to information, but still limits the ability to connect and network. Could your online meeting hold later scheduled sessions too? Allow people to view in real time and have their Q&A and discussion during the day, then also follow later with an arranged group to watch the recording and join a second live Q&A and discussion group with the speakers.
...follow later with an arranged group to watch the recording and join a second live Q&A and discussion group with the speakers.
My strong suspicion is that this kind of event happening during the working day is a kind of vetting process, conscious or not, ensuring the 'right' kind of attendees. Those museum workers who can self-determine their working day, or who are eager enough to book time off to attend, are the kind of people who can offer opportunities and are able to capitalise on them. Fair enough, people holding events get to make decisions about their events. Just stop a second though, and consider if the events you attend mean you're helping to pull up the ladder behind you, and make it harder for others to leap up. Can you make a suggestion to the organisers to at least drop a single rope down that chasm?