Why was this day created and how has it evolved over time?
Take Our Daughters to Work day began in 1992 by Gloria Steinem as a project of the Ms. Foundation. It was created to show girls that being smart was something to be proud of and not something to hide. By providing girls with real-life models in the workplace, the hope was to offer something for girls to strive to achieve themselves. Gender did not have to hold them back from a desired profession.
Parade Magazine wrote about the program and by 1993 the Take Your Daughter to Work Day Foundation was formed to help expand the program nationally and internationally.
From Female Empowerment to Breaking Gender Stereotypes
In 2003, the program expanded to include boys. And while many criticized this, wasn’t the point to increase female empowerment? The Foundation argued that the expansion would only make the program stronger. It would allow for the dissolution of gender stereotypes completely. For instance, shouldn’t a boy be told he’s allowed to be a nurse?
Since then the program has continued to evolve. It’s now an April tradition, with worldwide participation. It purposefully takes place during the school year so educators can incorporate it into their lessons, drawing from real world experiences. There have even been purposeful strides in reaching out to low-income communities to find ways for children there to participate as well.
Are we empowering our daughters?
All of this is fantastic. And I am grateful for these opportunities and lessons for our next generation of workers. However, it’s interesting to see the original intent behind the day and how it has changed over time. I love the idea of breaking gender stereotypes and teaching children they can follow any career path that interests them.
However, I do not feel our job is completely done in empowering girls to thrive in the workplace. If the realities of the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that women still shoulder the bulk of the burden when it comes to childcare and home management in addition to their jobs. Women are still the default parent who gets the phone call from school. They are still usually the one who needs to stay home with a sick child. They carry the bulk of the emotional labor, scheduling dentist appointments, replacing outgrown clothing, chauffeuring, etc.
“Take our Daughters to Work” Starts at Home
We can most definitely tell our girls they can aim for any career path they want. But they are still seeing their mothers carry an unsustainable workload each day and battling burnout. What is the answer to that? It’s complicated, I know. But until that balance is shifted, our girls will unfortunately always hit a ceiling.
We have come a long way from the balance of parenthood from the past. I applaud that men have made major strides in division of responsibilities at home and child rearing. But we, as a society, can still do better.So, parents, instead of just taking your child to work. Consider what you model for them each day. Are you demonstrating an imbalanced division of labor in the home? Are you making sure one parent isn’t burning out from an overloaded plate? The daily application they witness are the lessons your children will carry. Empower your daughters to speak up, negotiate in all areas of their lives and thrive.