It’s no surprise that women earn less than men do per dollar, but what is surprising is that more women than men are graduating from college. More women are entering the fields of law and medicine than ever before, but the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields haven’t seen the same growth. In fact, STEM career fields highlight the gender gap that exists in the workforce as well as the opportunity costs and challenges women face. Take Your Daughter to Work Day is critical for the growth of strong, independent, and confident young girls; it helps in empowering daughters to identify themselves as strong women who can have and assert their own rights and opinions. It could even help fill the gender gaps between men and women in the workforce.
Partaking in the experience helps translate abstract goals into a reality; it helps children envision their future success. Introduction into the workplace under the wing of a woman can show a young girl how to be a leader in a group setting, how to listen and respond effectively and how to collaborate with others; it can help her set goals and opens opportunities for her future.
Initially founded as ‘Take Our Daughters To Work Day’ in 1992 by Ms. Foundation for Women president Marie C. Wilson and with support from co-founder and infamous feminist, Gloria Steinem, the national campaign was expanded to include ‘and Sons’ in 2003. It was not without great controversy, as the society was originally founded to empower women and assist their matriculation into the workforce. However, the non-profit has always aimed to deconstruct gender roles in society, including breaking the metaphorical glass ceiling for women in the workplace and reinforcing the fact that men are equal parent figureheads. The program was changed in order to provide both boys and girls with opportunities to explore careers at an age when they, themselves, are more flexible in terms of gender roles. Girl or boy, our own Fierce Woman and Co-Founder of Maxim Hygiene Products, is a perfect example of how the program worked. Here’s what she had to say about it:
I’m young enough to remember when my dad pulled me out of school to celebrate this important “holiday.” In fact, my dad was so adamant about empowering me to work that he encouraged me to join him at the office more often than not. Those experiences at such a young age taught me so much about the work ethic and drive that makes our company so successful today. In fact, it probably planted the seed for the great business my dad and I run together today.
Encouraging parents to bring their daughters to work (initially) and now, expanding the net to include underprivileged children, the organization aims to change society by setting an example and creating potential pathways to futures that aren’t always in reach for everyone. The Role Model Effect has been proved over and over; seeing women in power inspires young girls with more ambition and the confidence to try a hand in a patriarchal system.
Studies of matriarchal societies and those with larger numbers of women in government positions result in more educated girls and lower indications of gender gap. It could be argued that to tackle gender inequality on a systemic basis, quotas could be enforced to ensure a minimum number of female representatives. Compared globally, American women are still largely under-represented in leadership positions holding just over 15% of board seats at the top 500 companies and just over 16% of seats in Congress. We still haven’t had a female president whereas India has had multiple female Prime Ministers and Presidents and over ten European Union member states have quotes for females on company boards.
Women currently in the STEM fields, cite disparities in educational opportunities as one of the reasons for the existing gender gap but two other interesting issues are: few advancement opportunities (since these positions largely remain with men) and few female role models or mentors within the industry to lubricate the process.
Even outside the industry in mainstream media culture, females aren’t recognized for their intelligence or prowess, but rather as objects of sex for geeky tech guys or billionaire moguls to lust after. How many people have heard of Dr. Frances Allen, an American computer scientist and the first woman to win the A.M. Turing Award (often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of computing)? Or of Italian physicist Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, the next (and first female) director-general of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research)? But everyone has heard of supermodel Giselle..
And where does America stand in all of this? Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. ranks 27th in math. “The U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the world at an alarming rate. U.S. students [also] recently finished… 20th in science” in the ranking of 34 developed countries. Only 36% of all high school grads are ready to take a college-level science course. In 2015, only 22% of students taking the AP Computer Science exam were girls, and only 13% were African-American or Latino students. These statistics mirror the current makeup of some of America’s largest and more innovative tech firms in which women compose less than one-third of their technical employees, and African-Americans less than 3 percent. In 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million computer specialist job openings but unfortunately, U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs meaning that outsourcing and immigration will be our only options.
The future is in our hands. We at Maxim encourage you to take your children to work this April, and don’t be afraid to send your daughter off with Dad, even if she thinks it seems boring at first! If it wasn’t for our brand’s founding father and daughter team, our line of organic tampons and other natural personal care products would be nowhere to be found.