Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day for 2017 has arrived, and it might be a good idea to try something a little different than in years past. Initially founded as “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” in 1993 to promote gender equality, it was updated to include sons in 2003. While the idea behind the movement is important — it exposes children to the workplace and encourages them to begin thinking about future careers at a young age — there is something lacking. As it stands, by taking our own children to work, we are perpetuating the division among the classes. An article on Quartz explains:
If your mother is a lawyer, you spend the day in a law firm. If your dad stocks shelves in a grocery store, then—if he is even allowed to bring you along—that’s what you will see. If your parents are unemployed, you don’t have a chance to go anywhere at all. And so the wheel turns.
But this year, the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation had a better idea that could help create a more equitable solution, encouraging organizations to include “children from housing authorities and shelters, nieces and nephews, neighbors and friends, granddaughters and grandsons, and more.”
It is not only important for children with fewer opportunities to be exposed to white-collar jobs. It is just as vital for privileged children to see the hard work that goes into blue-collar work as well.
One of the biggest challenges [in] the US is a lack of intergenerational social mobility. Too many children end up in similar positions to their parents on the social and economic ladder. Given this, the case for exposing disadvantaged kids to white-collar jobs is pretty clear. But there is something to be said for the other side of coin, too. Teenagers from affluent backgrounds often live in a bubble, surrounded by friends, neighbors and fellow students who share similar backgrounds. “Our kids are increasingly growing up with kids like them who have parents like us,” writes the Harvard social scientist Robert Putnam in his book Our Kids. He warns this represents “an incipient class apartheid.” It couldn’t hurt for upper-middle-class kids to step outside their bubble and spend a day in a working-class job.
So this year, if you have the kind of job that allows you to bring a child to work for the day, take full advantage of it. Consider asking the child of someone you know, so that a young person gets an opportunity that he or she would have never had. Let us know in the comments if you participate in the day!