A 2010 New York Times headline posed the question: "Why take our children to work?"
Amid criticism of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day's purpose and a decline in participation among some school districts, many parents have no doubt asked themselves the same thing as Thursday, April 28, nears in the U.S. But, the day's importance has never been greater.
Women lag men in the workplace in pay and promotions -- and remain a minority in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. But by taking our children to work, we can inspire them to achieve anything, regardless of gender. It's all about boys seeing women at work in all types of roles -- not just stereotypic women's positions -- and for girls to see role models they can aspire to become.
The program was initially called "Take Our Daughters to Work Day" in 1993 -- a time when women were given even fewer chances to advance in business -- but was expanded to include "our sons" in 2003. Girls today are still bombarded by images that narrow their vision of what they should and should not do when they grow up. This is why the program is still so valuable and why many companies participate.
Last year, for example, GE hosted an official event to mark the day where 176 children learned about nanotechnology, slow-motion photography, glass blowing, sign engraving, and even firefighting! This video, filmed by a parent whose daughter participated, sums up the power of the day to shape and influence young minds.
Bringing your child to work can spark new thoughts about their future. This can impact the choices they make at school and later in life as they enter the business world. Along the way, it can influence the choices of the people around them.
You are a powerful role model for the next generation of girls and boys. This Thursday, show them that they can be anything they want to be. The future is theirs -- but it starts with you.
Follow Ilene H. Lang on Twitter: www.twitter.com/catalystinc