Is 'Take Your Child To Work Day' Necessary Anymore?

On the first ever Take Your Daughter to Work Day in 1993, Alan Harrison made his 10-year-old daughter Bryn strap on goggles and tour the Florida Power and Light Plant. Bryn had always wanted to be a teacher like her mother, but her father had spotted her great math scores, and wanted to expand her thinking.

Twenty years later, and Bryn Harrison is a pharmacist for Walmart. "I think it made a big impression on her," her dad told AOL Jobs about that day, when he first exposed her to a career in the sciences. "She's thanked me many times, for my career, and engaging her in it."

The Ms. Foundation founded Take Our Daughters to Work Day to expose girls to careers that they may not have considered, because they had long been dominated by men.

Since sons were added to the program in 2003, however, the message has morphed. "Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day" is less about empowering girls to shake up gender roles, and more about getting kids to think about their futures, and dream big.

But in today's job market, this new project may not make a lot of sense. It might even hurt more than it helps.

The original Take Our Daughters to Work Day "spoke to a deep concern parents, teachers and employers have about the future for girls and women at work," Nell Merlino, the day's creator, told Forbes. In 1993, a third of married women with children didn't work, and so many girls were raised by a female role model without a career. Women were also largely stuck in lower-paying professions; the average female worker made 68 cents to the man's dollar.

So the day was mostly fathers escorting their daughters into a male world of work, and sending them the message that it was not only open to them, but that they were wanted there. The Ms. Foundation even proposed (but never actually created) a complementary "Son's Day," where boys would spend a day at home -- cooking, cleaning and learning about sexism, according to the book "The War Against Boys."

Many criticized Take Our Daughters To Work Day for excluding boys from a neat opportunity (to check out a parent's career, and skip a day of school), and in 2003, the program went co-ed. But Ms. Foundation still sticks by its original message. The day is a chance for girls and boys "to dream without gender limitations," its website says, and to "learn that a family-friendly work environment is ... not just a woman's issue."

But that isn't what the day means to most parents and children. It's usually seen as a way to give kids a taste of what their parents do, and inspire them to think about their careers.

But there are a couple problems with this. One third of American workers don't clock in at 9 a.m. in offices -- they freelance. "We haven't seen a shift in the workforce this significant in almost 100 years when we transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial economy," writes Sara Horowitz, the founder of Freelancers Union, in The Atlantic.

New technologies allow companies to hire people when they need them for specific projects, and free employees to take on multiple clients and work on their own time. For millions of Americans, their kids coming to work would involve them hovering around a laptop. So bringing children to a single physical workplace may actually mislead them about the future of work.

Freelancers aren't the only ones excluded from Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. When Julie Drizin didn't bring her children to work one year, they told her the classroom that day was half-empty. "Which students were left behind and why?" she asks on the Journalism Center on Children and Families website.

The Latina-immigrant waitress who works 12 hours a day, six days a week, for $5.50 an hour probably isn't taking her kids to work, she says. Neither is the Ghanese-immigrant home-health aide, who doesn't want to inspire her kids with "emptying bed pans, mashing medications and bathing dying men." Americans working on factory lines, manning the floors of Walmart, or emptying the trashcans of office buildings are probably leaving their children at home. As will the millions of Americans who are unemployed.

Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day, she writes, has become "a feel-good exercise for the privileged."

This wouldn't be true if the message of the day changed, and it became about children appreciating how hard their parents work to feed them, clothe them and buy them stuff. It might even be better, Drizin suggests, if the children of the privileged spent a day shadowing a person with a low-wage service job.

So perhaps we should all celebrate a version of "Son's Day" instead, where children see the kind of grueling workday most Americans have, and learn about class issues in a modern capitalist society.



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Carl Rood

I've worked for two companies over the past 17 years and both do the same thing. They create a committee to plan a days events for the kids. The parents meet their kids for lunch in the cafeteria and later pick them up at the end of the day. Now the events planned are geared towards showing the kids about the company, but not necessarily what their parent does in the company. A distribution company is about buying and selling, so they focus on that, not necessarily what the IT department is doing.

In essence, the kids never really see what their parent is doing all day.

February 08 2013 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laptop603

Kids do not belong in the workplace. All fine for mom or dad, but it's a pain in the butt for your co-workers.

April 26 2012 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robyxf

When I first started flying the Boeing 747, I took my 8 year old son on a trip with me, after we got airborn I put the jet on auto pilot. and set my son in my seat and told him to take control and fly the jet, he sat there for an hour, he thought he was flying the jet, I never told him any difference untill he was grown. can you imanage how many times he told the story to his friends that he flew a jet, biggest day in his life.

April 26 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rohrscheibcroh

it's a waste i did a lil servay on the kids going to work . they didn't care .they just enjoyed a day off of school an going out to lunch

April 26 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fourprs

USA students rank 10th or worse in math and sciences when compared to other countries.
They cannot afford to miss a single day of school. BTW, many parents can't take them to work,
unless filing for unemployment benefits counts.

April 26 2012 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vjg4603

When I was a Child, my Dad traveled for a local wholesale company, In the summer when i was able to
ride with him, It was and is one of my fondest memories of 60 years ago.
Vernon

April 26 2012 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pam

I was having problems with my new assistant. There were things I needed to teach her and she either took my correction personally and acted hurt or went on to disagree with my policies. Before we got things straightened out, here came Bring your Daughter to Work Day. Her 9 year old daughter promptly asked me why I didn't like her mother. sigh Everytime I came back to my office, she was sitting in my chair and talking nonstop. Her mother never said a word.

April 26 2012 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
riognach

For my colleagues and I to take our kids to work would be inappropriate: I'm a nurse practitioner and children do not belong roaming a hosptial; neither should they be in my out-patient office. Both are a violations of patients' privacy. Kids are bug factories, especially the younger ones, and patients should not be exposed who are ill already. And the suffering of many patients would be frightening and misunderstood by children. Men and women in medical or nursing practice at any level cannot show their kids what they do up close and personal. This day doesn't work for us, for our patients or for our offspring.

April 26 2012 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kyoteee1

This was a stupid idea from the very beginning. Kids NEVER belong in the workplace. It causes extra noise, distractions, slowdown in work productivity, and generalized annoyance for everyone else in the office but the parent.

April 26 2012 at 1:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to kyoteee1's comment
bunsbestgirl

kyotee1 - I wholeheartedly agree! My boss brings the kids in when no babysitter is available. Although it's not often, it certainly is distracting. Not only do the kids eat all our snacks (and I do mean ALL), they are constantly running in the office and making noise. And what is the parent doing about it? Nothing!! I cannot even get a decent day's work done with all the distractions. I would not mind of the kids were raised/trained to be quiet when at the office.

April 26 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

, slowdown in work productivity, and generalized annoyance for everyone else in the office but the parent.
Thou has spoken an inconsistency, no work ever is done in an office, that is where every 1 just sits on they`re large cushions, adjusts the heat or air, pushes a pencil around & hogs down massive amounts of donuts. & that leads to a medical condition called wide azzz syndrome. Thou is welcome, always happy to set people strait & or correct them when needed. Have a nice day.

April 26 2012 at 1:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tony's comment
D

Tony…..how bout your big fat ars sitting at your computer writing your obviously childish comment. I’m thinking you’re not swift enough to work in an office, but I’m bettin you know the phrase “would you like fries with that”?

April 26 2012 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
uncommonsensesc

What is also being missed in the story is how children are being raised now - their parents allow them to do as they please at home and in public no matter how much of a nuisance they are. I let one of my data entry people bring her daughter to work and it was a disaster. The whole day was spent telling her mother to keep her with her and not let her roam the office bothering others. When they left for lunch, they were gone for 2 hours without letting me know she'd be late (she wanted to make it up that evening but I nixed that idea). She had also told me the wrong day so when she showed up with her on our production/data entry meeting day, that was another big surprise! One of my other data entry ladies let her kids stop by at least once a week (3 of them ranging from 19 to 12) and they hung around the office for way too long so I had to have a talk with her about that - she stopped working while they were there, we all shared a small office with lots of traffic from other departments and it was a major distraction. If the parents would teach the kids the correct work habits and policies, it would be great. But my experience with this is that the parents like the idea but don't carry though with the concept!

April 26 2012 at 1:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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