Taking our Daughters and Sons to Work

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What made your career path clear to you? Who mentored you and provided guidance about the choices available to you in the world of work?

On April 23, 2015, more than 37 million employees at over 3.5 million workplaces will participate in the 22nd annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work® program originated by the Ms. Foundation for Women. Today the program is administered by the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation in a national partnership between education and business that connects what children learn at school with the working world.

According to the foundation’s website, the day “encourages girls and boys across the country to dream without gender limitations and to think imaginatively about their family, work and community lives. Children learn that a family-friendly work environment is an employer and family issue and not just a woman’s issue. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work helps girls and boys across the nation discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life.”

A recent year’s theme, Building Partnerships to Educate and Empower, stressed the numerous partnerships that are required to make this day a success. Sponsors are companies and organizations that recognize students’ potential and are committed to providing access to opportunities, and include nationally recognized names.

“We want the kids, parents, teachers and workplaces to all help students see the value of their education by linking it to the world of work,” says Carolyn McKecuen, president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. “Kids say, ‘I want to be a doctor,’ but they don’t always realize what it takes to get there. This day gives them the opportunity to learn and be exposed to their dream jobs. It teaches them that they have to start working toward that goal now, and that getting Cs in school won’t cut it.”

And a constant theme is that “Our Daughters and Sons” means more than our own children. “Workplaces and individuals are encouraged to ensure all our nation’s daughters and sons participate in the program by inviting children from housing authorities and shelters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends, granddaughters and grandsons and more to join them for Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day,” the website affirms. The recommended age range for eligible school participants is between the ages of 8 and 18. The foundation is also committed to ensuring that girls and boys of all races, ethnicities and economic circumstances participate in the program.

Kevin Walker, president and national director of Project Appleseed and The National Campaign for Public School Improvement, says, “There are 50 million public school parents in America. Real education reform in this country cannot take place without an effective and involved parent constituency. When employers encourage parents to become involved with their children during company time, they invest in the corporate bottom line by ensuring that parents can be involved with their children. Parental involvement is the key to school improvement, and school improvement is the key to economic growth and competitiveness. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is one way employers can invest in our future work force – now.”

For the workplace that chooses to participate in this opportunity, the foundation provides a comprehensive, free toolkit that is designed to be a one-stop shop for planning a complete day and then assisting students to take their experience back to the classroom. Elementary, middle and high school guides provide age-appropriate activities, questionnaires, tips and sample interviews to facilitate interaction among the working parent, her co-workers and students. Guides are structured to expose girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day and to show them the value of their education. Each year new activities are created to assist workplace coordinators in developing a results-based program. The activities, developed by the Families and Work Institute and Helping Kids Thrive, increase youths’ understanding of the way work life and home life often overlap and that all aspects of life need to be managed. Additional goals are to increase critical thinking, communication, writing and reading skills; promote positive identity and increase self-esteem; learn about the importance of teamwork; and to challenge students to think beyond common stereotypes about the roles of women and men both at work and at home.

The Bright Ideas Guide, a free resource provided by the foundation, stresses, “If the program is carefully planned in consultation with managers and associates, it should not be disruptive to normal business operations. In fact, this day can be a big boost to the normal routine by helping to build morale among employees.” This guide even provides a suggested timeline and step-by-step planning outline to make a business’s participation go smoothly.
The theme for the 2015 year is #MPOWR Knowledge+Choice=Strength. In this year, the foundation encourages both businesses and parents to continue the important work of educating and empowering the youth of America.

Sources: daughtersandsonstowork.org and forbes.com.