1992 was the “Year of the Woman.” Four women won seats in the U.S. Senate and twenty-four won seats in the House of Representatives, which simultaneously tripled the number of women in the Senate and broke the record for the largest number of women elected to the House in any single election year. 1992 was also, according to an article in Time Magazine, the year Marie C. Wilson conceived the idea of National Bring Our Daughters to Work Day.
“Originally, we started it to remind adult women of what dreams they had,” said Wilson in the Time article.
In the early 90s, many adult women returned to college after raising kids. Some were married and some were divorced. Most, though, had to manage the dual duties of work and motherhood. Often, their teenage daughters had no idea where they were or what they did all day long. Of course, they knew they were at work and they were doing something, but beyond that, their ideas were vague. Wilson realized that though the passage of Equal Rights Amendment and the ensuing decades had changed the role of women in U.S. society, there was still a lot of work to be done.
Adolescent girls knew that nominally, they had the same rights as men in the workplace. But internally, they struggled under the weight of tradition. Girls still weren’t supposed think, act, and speak for themselves, especially if that mean disagreeing with men. Wilson envisioned Bring Our Daughters to Work Day as a time when teenage girls could see their mothers – and other women – in action in the workplace. And the mother who brought them would be able to see the workplace through their eyes, and remember the fresh optimistic, enthusiastic perspective they had when they first entered the workforce.
How it Became a National Day
Initially, Wilson thought it would be a relatively small happening in New York, where she lived at the time. Through her work at the Ms. Foundation for Women, she mentioned the idea to legendary feminist activist and icon, Gloria Steinem, who told Parade magazine, and the rest was history: Bring Our Daughters to Work Day got national attention and received the support of women and businesses around the country.
The day is now officially called “Bring Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” with boys added in 2003 in the name of inclusivity. While some see the focus on adolescent girls as outdated, Wilson believes the focus women is more relevant now than ever.
Two facts support her point of view.
First, the fact that there is still a wage gap between women and men in the U.S. Statistic report that women in the workforce earn roughly seventy-seven cents for every one dollar earned by man: that’s a gap of over twenty percent. To verify those numbers, read this report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this article from The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, this analysis from the American Association of University Women, and this piece from The New York Times, “Womansplaining the Pay Gap.
Second, the 2018 mid-term elections. By all accounts, 2018, politically speaking, was another “Year of the Woman.” When all the votes had been counted, the totals for women in both the Senate and House broke previous records: as of 2019, there are now twenty-five women in the Senate and eighty-seven women in the House.
Five Reasons Among Many
While we certainly encourage mothers and fathers to bring their sons to work as well, we think – like Wilson, the founder of the day – it’s important for adolescent girls to see their mothers and fathers in the workplace. In fact, we’ve come up with five compelling reasons parents should make arrangements to bring their daughters to work on April 25th, 2019.
Five Good Reasons to Bring Your Daughter to Work
- Seeing is believing. When you bring your daughter to work, you expand her knowledge of the world and her possibilities within it. Girls can read and hear all they want online. They can see women at work in movies and on TV, but nothing beats the real thing.
- To show her you really do exist when she’s not around. As teens grow, they develop an identity separate and distinct from yours. It’s important for them to realize you have an identity that’s separate and distinct from your identity as a parent.
- To share more of yourself with her. When your daughter sees you at work – your desk, workstation, or whatever it is – and see how your co-workers relate to you and rely on you, you bring them into your world that much more. They begin to understand you as a complete human being, with challenges and successes all your own.
- To show her she has a place there. In the workplace, your daughter will see all kinds of women doing all kinds of jobs. And they won’t be making a big deal about it. They belong there just as much as anyone. When she sees this with her own eyes, she’ll understand it’s not all talk: the world is there, waiting for her to join in.
- To show her off to your coworkers. C’mon, you know you want to. Besides, they’ve already seen all the pictures, right? You’ve shared the social media posts from school events, family vacations, and birthdays. Now’s your chance for them to ooh and aaah and exclaim “My how she’s grown!” in person. It will embarrass her, but she’ll secretly love every minute of the attention.
Bring Your Daughter to Work – Just Do It
We’re sure you can come up with five more perfectly good reasons on your own. It doesn’t matter what they are. All that matters is that this April 25th you should try your best to Bring Your Daughter to Work!
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA. He writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.