Each year, the fourth Thursday of April is recognized as Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and more than 37 million Americans at over 3.5 million workplaces participate in this special event.
To understand the significance of the day as it stands now, though, let’s first take a step or two back to consider its origins. The idea was created inNew York City in the summer of 1992 by the Ms. Foundation, specifically the organization’s president at the time, Marie C. Wilson, and first celebrated as Take Our Daughters to Work Day on April 22, 1993. And if you need a history refresher on the early 1990s, a national conversation had begun regarding what was next for feminism. The testimony of law professor Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing had changed the way Americans talked about workplace harassment and helped propel women to historic victories in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.2
But let’s not forget about our sons here!
The program officially expanded in 2003 to include boys, but most involved companies had allowed both boys and girls to participate since its inception, so the name of the day just had to catch up a bit to reflect that. The official website states that things were changed to provide both boys and girls with opportunities to explore careers at any age when they are more flexible regarding gender roles. The Ms. Foundation also states that men who have hosted children have benefited from being seen as parental figures in addition to their roles as professionals, which can contribute to combating gender stereotypes as well.
So now that you have a little bit of background on the development of the day, let’s explore how you can make the most of the experience for your child, as well as for yourself. Here are five tips to think about:
- Plan the day with your child. Think about what would be most meaningful to your child, given his or her unique interests. Sit down and discuss what he or she wants to learn that day, or what specific questions there may be on what your work is really all about. Remember, kids who are participating are also missing a day of school, so it’s crucial you have a different type of learning experience set up
For the day –one that will have a; long-lasting influence on their goals, work ethic, and understanding of the professional world.
- Plan the day with your employer and colleagues. Many HR departments now offer a full day planned in advance for participating children, so that they can grasp a bigger picture of how the company comes together to operate as a team. However, many businesses do not do this so it’s important you speak to the powers that be in advance, as well as your work cohorts, to tell them your plan with your child and how you’d like to optimize the day. No busy co-worker wants to be distracted by a roaming child, so it’s best for everyone if there is a structure planned in advance –one that will work for your organization and also for your child.
- Lay the ground rules in advance, and reinforce them. And on that note, prep your kids before they go to work with you by providing some guidelines. Tell them exactly what will be expected of them, and reinforce what a fantastic learning experience this will be.
- Open up the opportunity to kids other than your own. Say you’re an architect, and you’ve long known that your neighbor’s son is also super interested in this career path. Consider speaking to your neighbor about offering the opportunity for their child to accompany you to work on this recognized day.
- Make it a real “real world” experience. While the goal would be to keep the day interesting, you also have to keep it realistic. Allow your child to see ups and downs, and problem-solving skills put to work while letting him/her take part in the process, which can be a valuable and empowering exercise. Having your child shadow you is one thing, but keeping him/her engaged is taking the day to the next level.
Today, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day may perhaps be more important than ever before, as we aim to promote this real-world learning, as well as gender equality, career path guidance, and the importance of structured teamwork. Understanding the path taken to get here, and incorporating these suggested tips as you take part in the day, will ensure that you’re making the most of the opportunity, and most importantly that your child is reaping the full benefits too.