The Nonprofit Behind “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”

As Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day celebrates its 25th anniversary Thursday, we take a brief look at the nonprofit that built it.

When Take Our Daughters to Work Day started in 1993, the world was a very different place.

While some women were enjoying higher-paying and higher-profile jobs, others struggled in the transition from housewife to career woman. The anxiety felt among women wasn’t lost on their daughters, either: Research from the previous year indicated that girls were experiencing a dramatic loss of sense of self, which translated to lower grades in school and poor life choices.

Piggybacking on that 1992 research, the Ms. Foundation for Women in New York City, headed by President Marie C. Wilson and Founder Gloria Steinem, wanted to offer young women a place to learn and get support outside the home.

“We thought, ‘How could they do this at work? What if we got people, on one day, to pay attention to girls in this way? As future employees, not for their bodies?’” Wilson said in an interview with Time last year.

And so, Take Our Daughters to Work Day was born as a chance to expose girls to diverse jobs and industries that they, too, could one day work in.

“It was actually a prime time in the women’s movement for something like that,” Wilson added. “It was at a serious, hard time for women, when women—who had only been in the home—were returning to school and having to go back to work to support the family. They were called displaced homemakers because they didn’t have skills.”

What Wilson thought would be a one-day local event has since turned into a global phenomenon. Now, 25 years later, both daughters and sons—boys were included, and the title amended to Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in 2003—can join their parents, guardians, and other adults at work all around the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the U.S., Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April, with the idea that participants can return to school on Friday and share what they’ve learned.

In 2007, following the success and popularity of the program, the Ms. Foundation for Women transitioned the program to the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work (TODASTW) Foundation, which still heads up the campaign today. Its goal is to let kids dream without gender limitations and expand on future opportunities for all children in their home, work, and community lives. To date, because of the efforts of both the Ms. Foundation for Women and the TODASTW Foundation, 39 million people have participated in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day in the U.S. alone.

Each year, the foundation selects a theme to help promote its message. This year, the theme is “Service Force: Agents of ‘Positive’ Change.”

For those participating, remember that, for many children, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day might be the first time they are asked to talk about how they want their futures to look—so ask questions to get their imagination rolling. Ask about their favorite subjects, hobbies, and dislikes, and share your work experiences based on their responses. With your help, kids can discover the power and possibilities of a well-balanced work life.

(maroke/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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