Every year during the month of April we celebrate Take Your Daughter To Work Day; it’s a day to honor the future female workers who will change our world and propel our community forward through their innovation, inspiration, and bold moves in whatever field they choose. These young girls are the future of our country and our world, and it’s important to note that many of them are still in elementary school (or even younger). Regardless of their age, their background and their passions, this day is an important opportunity to lead by example and engage our children in an ongoing conversation about what it means to work hard, to set goals, to empower others, to serve — and above all it’s an opportunity to teach our daughters that they can be anything they want to be.
This year the 27th anniversary of Take Your Daughter To Work Day was originally scheduled to take place on April 23rd, and while most official events have been postponed as a precautionary measure, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this opportunity to teach your children about the working world and to encourage them to think imaginatively about their future.
Clearly this day (and everything else happening in 2020) comes with several obstacles considering the vast majority of the country is on lockdown, with parents working from home, children home-schooling, families socially distancing, and companies either operating remotely or with essential businesses operating under emergency situations. And to add another layer of complications on top of that, many workers are finding themselves without a job, either having lost their position due to layoffs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or having been furloughed in the interim while businesses try to stay afloat. So needless to say, working situations for millions of Americans do not look like they used to, and Take Your Daughter To Work Day will also not look the same, by any stretch of the imagination.
But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Take Your Daughter To Work Day is an important day not only for children, but for parents as well. It’s a chance to set an example by exposing our kids first-hand to our hard work and daily professional efforts, and to really communicate the message that girls can do anything. While major strides have been made since this day began back in 1993, women still earn only $.82 cents for every dollar a man earns, and this pay gap is significantly worse for African American women and Latinas. In addition, women are seriously underrepresented in certain fields such as the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And this disparity is even more apparent and more damaging during times of an economic crisis.
So while it might seem like an inappropriate time to celebrate Take Your Daughter To Work Day, it’s actually never been more important.
Unsurprisingly, this year Take Your Daughter To Work Day is going to look a lot different for a lot of people. Like so many other important events and celebratory affairs (dance shows, graduations, performances, soccer games, weddings, baby showers, family vacations…), for many people this day will be lost in the shuffle or skipped entirely because we’re stuck distancing at home. But more than ever, moms of girls (and boys for that matter) need to honor this day and show their kids what hard work looks like, and what opportunities can lie ahead.
On April 23rd we encourage all parents, grandparents or caregivers of young girls to dedicate their day to taking their daughters to work — in whatever capacity that may be for your personal work-from-home situation. We know, we know… another item on your already overloaded to-do list sounds like a terrible idea. But trust us, it matters. This is the time to help young people imagine what their futures could look like, and to inspire our children to dream big and work towards unlimited professional possibility.
Here’s how you can make this experience not only bearable, but also meaningful, even when you’re stuck at home.
Be Proud of Your Children, and Proud of Your Work
Finding balance between work and family is always difficult. But it can be especially challenging during times like these — with commitments to homeschooling and working from home competing for your attention and effort. It’s hard to keep both your career and your family in a positive light at all times. But remember that Take Your Daughter To Work Day is supposed to be a positive day. In a New York Times piece Williams Yost explained that Take Our Daughters (and Sons) to Work Day is almost always a positive experience for everyone involved, because it lets your coworkers get to you know on a more personal level. And that applies whether you are bringing your kids to the office or working from home. “There will be times when your child is sick, or has an important event, and when people you work with know your kids, there’s a caring there that they would not otherwise have,” Yost explained.
Use this day as an opportunity to be proud of your work and to also be proud of your kids. Introduce your kids to your co-workers and your boss on Zoom calls and put a face to the kids who you go home to every night, so that your colleagues better understand what your home life is all about. It’s not only okay, but also important to exhibit pride in both aspects of your life and to share that pride with everyone involved, particularly when we are all forced to juggle our roles under one roof with very little privacy or wiggle room.
Set a Schedule For the Day
If you were taking your kids into the office or to a special Take Your Daughter To Work event, you would stick to a schedule to maintain order and teach them about the importance of being on time, being organized and being respectful of people’s time. And even if you’re working from home and only wearing business attire from the waist up (we’re guessing you’re wearing sweatpants with that button-down shirt), the same rule applies. Set a schedule for the day and communicate the plan to your kids and your coworkers. And the schedule doesn’t need to be set in stone; it can be a collaborative effort. “Sit down the night before and talk to your child about what they want to learn that day and what they’re most looking forward to,” suggests Carolyn McKecuen, president of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation. Establish ahead of time when there will be breaks, when there will be important meetings and video conferences that require listening, and when there will be a chance to share ideas.
Talk About What You Do
Have an open conversation about what your job is on a larger scale, and what you do on a day-to-day basis, from small tasks to bigger responsibilities. Your kids might know you go to work each day, or they might see you taking calls and doing work from home, but do they really know what you are working on? Talk about it. And try to present it in terms that a child would understand and care about. How does your job affect them in their daily lives, how does it affect other people in your community or around the world? Share what you love about your job, and even what you don’t love. Be open and honest, and be willing to answer questions, because we all know kids come with a lot of questions.
Get Your Daughter (or Son) Involved in Your Work
The most valuable Take Your Daughter to Work Day is not just you talking while your kids sit back and watch, bored to tears and totally uninterested. Children learn by doing, not only by seeing. If you want to really get through to them, get your kids involved. The more involved you get them, the more they’ll want to keep learning and the more they will realize they too can do that job (or any job they are passionate about). Empower them by getting them engaged, and in the end they’ll have something to remember from their day working beside you.
You can give them tasks that will help you with your projects or daily responsibilities. Let them be helpers so they feel more invested in what you are doing when you’re not with them. Ask your kids to share their ideas as you work, invite them to participate, and ask for their help with problem solving or creative solutions. If your job is on the frontlines or in an environment that isn’t safe for children, write down information about what you do and how it is valuable, and ask your children why they think your job is important, or what it means to them.
Working From Home Means More Access to More People Virtually
Even if you can’t take your kids to your actual place of work, there are benefits to celebrating Take Your Daughter To Work from the comfort of your home. Not only can you engage your child in your work, but you can also teach them about other people’s jobs at the same time. FaceTime with relatives and let your child interview them to learn about what they do professionally. Watch videos and take virtual tours of other places of business, from zoos to restaurants to universities, hospitals, toy factories, research labs and more. You can even organize career day Zoom calls with your children and their friends, where parents take turns sharing their jobs and what they do with the entire group. That way kids will learn about several careers and become even more empowered by the wide range of opportunities for their future.