If you’ve spent any time in the workplace in the last 20 years, chances are you’ve participated in a Take Our Daughters to Work Day.
Launched in 1993 by the Ms. Foundation for Women, it was an initiative to expand girls’ career horizons. But with women in many sectors now making up 50 percent of the workforce, in 2003, Take Our Daughters to Work Day became, “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”
The argument then was that girls no longer needed to be singled out. But it turns out that in many sectors—science, technology, engineering and math—girls are participating at lower numbers than boys, building the foundation for the professional gender gap we experience today.
To tackle this, there are many organizations that provide programs to introduce girls to the workplace, with some focused specifically on STEM.
Each year, over 150 middle- and high-school girls, nominated by their math and science teachers, visit the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria, Ill., to learn more about the machinery company and the wide scope of careers in engineering. Girls are split into small teams, each with two women engineers from Caterpillar, to visit interactive learning stations, including those demonstrating a 3-D simulator and 3-D printers, and learn how they are used in manufacturing, medicine, and even fashion.
Launched in 2014, each year over 2,000 middle school girls participate in ExxonMobil’s “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” program. Students gather at one of fourteen ExxonMobil sites around the country, including Austin, TX, and Baton Rouge, LA, for hands-on workshops and programs—including taking part in water purification experiments, viewing cosmetic manufacturing, and learning how the energy industry uses 3-D technology—led by ExxonMobil engineers.
CREW, the association of Commercial Real Estate Women, is an organization with nearly 70 chapters around the country that organizes educational programs, networking events, and mentorship opportunities for women.
CREW Careers™: Building Opportunities is an annual program presented by CREW chapters to introduce girls to the various careers within commercial real estate such as architecture, construction management, and real estate development. Chapters present the program either as a one-day event or as a class with meetings over the course of one month or several months.
CampHERO! is a two-week summer program spearheaded by the City of Madison, WI, to introduce girls to public safety careers. Girls in kindergarten through twelfth grade enroll in programs divided by age group to learn more about becoming a police officer, fire fighter, or EMT. Girls have the opportunity to lift and examine fingerprints, learn and practice CPR, try on firefighter gear, and take an up-close look inside fire engines, police cars, and ambulances.
Hands-on programs are taught by working police officers, firefighters, and EMTs at Madison Area Technical College and at sites around the city of Madison.