Take Our Daughters to Work Day, 21 Years Later…
by Nell Merlino
Twenty one years ago today million of girls went to work with their parents, relatives, neighbors and teachers on the first Take Our Daughters to Work Day. By this time that first day we were gathering at my live/work loft on 26th Street in New York City with Gloria Steinem and Marie Wilson to watch the evening news and see what kind of impact we had. The excitement had been building all day.
A phone call woke me up the next morning after the very first Take Our Daughters to Work Day in April 1993. It was Wyatt Andrews, an old-school, serious, senior correspondent for CBS Evening News, calling from one of those fancy phones in the back of airplane seats (which was a HUGE deal in the early 90’s pre-cell phone era) during his flight on the “power plane” between to Washington D.C. and New York. He was calling because Take Our Daughters to Work Day was front page on all the major newspapers including, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and so many others. There were photos of girls in every conceivable profession; dressed in uniforms from hard hats to chef’s toques to surgical masks to dainty pearls. Girls were soldering circuit boards, flying flight simulators, walking through the halls of Congress. Everywhere, there were girls doing something.
In that phone call Wyatt Andrews kept telling me, “You did it! You did it!” Weeks earlier, Wyatt had interviewed me for a article that would go out nationwide. He said that he had never had so much interest in a single story, everyone, everywhere wanted to know more about Take Our Daughters to Work Day.
And my work empowering women and girls continues. Just last week I was in Arlington, VA with the organization I started after Take Our Daughters to Work Day called Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence where we held one of our entrepreneurial competitions for women in military families at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial located in Arlington Cemetery. Surrounded by photos of pioneering women dating back to the Civil War, twenty-five women veterans and military spouses pitched their businesses to a panel of experts and received valuable feedback about how to grow, raise money and increase confidence thanks to the generous sponsorship of Capital One.
The next day we held a Leadership Institute called Thrive with Massive Change with world renowned designer Bruce Mau. He helped 45 women solve some of the most chronic business problems having to do with raising money, delegating responsibility to other, scaling and making money while you sleep, using his unique methodology. At every moment of this mind stretching experience, I was reminded of the lesson of Take Our Daughters to Work Day – girls learn about being a women from watching women and women learn how to solve problems in their business, in their families and in the world from watching and listening to each other and to men who get it.
Below are some sketches the participants of the Leadership Institute made of me when I asked what they thought my Return On Investment was, and what I could do next to further my impact for women:
I continue to be inspired by the women I meet regularly who decided their professions based on what they saw in the early years of Take Our Daughters to Work Day.
Just like Wyatt Andres kept saying, “You did it!” to me on the phone that morning, I know you can do it too!