Take Our Daughters to Work Day

Anne K. Ard (aka101@psu.edu)
Tue, 7 May 1996 10:19:33 -0400


Here at Penn State we are joyfully recovering from our first organized (and
extremely successful) Take Our Daughters to Work Day program. I have found
the dialogue on the listserve very enlightening. You might be interested
to know that after blanketing the University community at University Park
with information about our event, we received fewer than 5 negative
comments from folks who were angry that we targeted daughters. If people
requested to bring their sons, that was okay with us, given the stipulation
that they understood that the programs and speakers were targeted to girls.
One or two boys came and participated with no noticable ill effects. We
actually got more heat from folks who were mad that we wouldn't take girls
younger than sixth grade.

Being at a research University, it was important to us to recognize the
reality that women are underrepresented in the sciences and engineering, so
as we organized tours for the girls and parents, we emphasized those areas
(the nuclear reactor, the electron microscope, the horticulture dept., the
cow barns). We had about 200 girls and parents, a good mix of fathers,
mothers, aunts, grandparents, and friends served as mentors. We also had
significant financial support from lots of places in the University,
including the President's office. He also brought his 11 year old

I've been thinking a lot about this issue of daughters/sons/kids to work.
I am the mother of both a daughter and a son, and it seems pretty clear to
me that barring their own personal idiosyncracies, my daughter is more at
risk in this society than my son. Research indicates that even in first
grade, my daughter is in a classroom where more value is put on the
contributions of boys than of girls, where boys get more attention (and my
personal observation bears this out). She is the only girl on her soccer
team and on her T-ball team. Right now that is not an issue for her, or
for the boys on the team, but I worry about how long that will be the case.
My son, on the other hand, even if he chooses a non-traditional field,
will always be able to make choices that my daughter may not have. And I
will support both their choices, recognizing that she may need more support
from me than he does because she gets less support from the society in
which they both live.

Sorry this is so long, but this has been percolating for some time. Doing
work in the area of educational equity is often easier than raising
children equitably, I think!

Anne K. Ard
The Pennsylvania State University
Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity
314 Grange Building
(814) 863-7890

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