The research was, to say the least, disturbing.
The year was 1993, and according to a Harvard study by Dr. Carol Gilligan -- as well as research conducted at the University of Minnesota -- as girls approached adolescence, they stopped raising their hands in class; their self-esteem began to wither; and, most distressing, their academic curiosity spiraled downward -- particularly in science, math and technology. This did not bode well for the future prospects of the nation's young women, especially when it came to employment.
Just when we thought we were finally inching toward the gender equality we'd fought so diligently for back in Sixties and Seventies, we were now facing a new and frightening battle. This was more than just a trend, we knew. It was a crisis.
Over at the Ms. Foundation, president Marie Wilson began poring over the numbers and brainstorming with consultants about how to reverse this perilous tide. Since its founding in 1973 (by Gloria Steinem, Letty Pogrebin, Pat Carbine and myself), Ms. had always had the backs of women and girls, and we weren't about to lose this fight. But what was our solution?
That's when one of Marie's consultants told us about a popular news reporter newsman who would regularly ask his young daughter to escort him to important work events; and how proud she would be afterwards that she'd been included.
So we got to thinking: Maybe we could do the same thing across the country. Maybe if we created a special day every year when adults would bring their daughters -- or their granddaughters or goddaughters or nieces or even the daughters of friends -- to the workplace with them, it would help these young women develop the confidence and real-world exposure they needed to get them through this tough time in their lives.
So April 22, 1993 (21 years ago this week), Take Our Daughters to Work Day was born -- and from the very start, it was an historic landmark. That's because the program was -- and has remained -- more than just a "career day" for its participants. In the words of Lee Kravitz, former editor of Parade magazine (which gave Take Our Daughters its first big media jolt in 1993 ): "It reminds all Americans -- parents and policymakers, voters and corporate leaders -- that our success as a nation depends on our ability to nurture and help fulfill the dreams and potential of all of our young people."
In 2003, the program expanded to include boys; and, since then, it has been embraced globally, in places as far-reaching as India and Africa. This year, the Executive Director of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation, Carolyn McKecuen, invited me to tape the welcome message to all of the 2014 participants -- and I was honored. Take a look below. I also hope you'll visit the Foundation's website here, and learn all about the remarkable progress the program continues to make.
Happy Birthday, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day! At 21, you have truly come of age.