I’ve seen very little written about this year’s Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day. That’s the current designation for the day, morphed from the original appellation “Take Our Daughters To Work Day”.
April 24, 2014, is the 21st occurrence of TODSTW Day. Children born the year the event began are already in the workplace, and within a few years their children will be old enough to participate.
To be sure, TODSTW Day was never one of my favorite occasions. My first experience of the day was as a working mother with grade school children two decades ago. I had to decide whether just my daughter or also her older brother should participate. I had to decide whether the eligible (and interested) child would visit my workplace or my husband’s (he had even less interest in the occasion than I did). I had to find something for the child to do, if he or she was with me.
Later as a manager, I had corporate responsibility for planning for the event. I had to decide what activities in my department were appropriate for children of what ages to attend. This was particularly difficult in a factory environment, but even in an office setting there were confidentiality, management, and sensitivity issues to contend with. On one occasion when my daughter accompanied me to work, we had a discussion about offering same-sex benefits in our company. Should she attend or not? (She did, and she had a well-formed opinion on the topic.)
I also had to deal with resource issues. How many managers would spend time with the children? Should we get t-shirts with corporate logos for employees responsible for the activities?
All in all, what was supposed to be a day promoting discussions about women in the workplace became a day of games and hoopla. And that was a decade or more ago.
Both my children are working now, while I have left my corporate responsibilities behind. As I look at TODSTW Day now, I think it is unnecessary to have a separate day to have children learn about their parents’ work responsibilities. I would hope that now most children are aware that both men and women can work—away from home or at home.
It’s been amusing to see the old Doonesbury cartoon strips republished in recent weeks. In one recent series of strips, character Joanie Caucus is teaching preschool girls that they can work outside the home, when they have been conditioned to only want to be mommies. How antiquated this story line seems!
In fact, one challenge in today’s society is to preserve respect for women and men who choose to work as caregivers to their children or who strive to craft a balance of work and caregiving from the home.
Another challenge is creating flexibility in the workplace for both women and men who need to spend occasional time with family, but still want to contribute in an office or factory or retail setting. Our wage and hour laws are simply not designed for flexibility, even when it is desired by both employer and employee.
However, there has been a downturn in the percentage of women in the workplace in recent years. I believe the poor economy is mostly to blame. But perhaps some watchfulness is still needed. Maybe we should keep the TODSTW hoopla around for a few more years.
What do you think—should Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day continue?