Boys invited to join the fun
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
This year, take sons to work, too
Photo courtesy of Debi Matusczak
Zachary Matuszcak, 6, loved going to work with mon, Debi.
Debi Matuszczak never really cared whether boys were included in Take Our Daughters to Work Day. She took 6-year-old Zachary anyway.
“I’m the mother of three boys, so I think they should be included,” says Matuszczak, who works for Federal Express at O’Hare International Airport.
This year, boys are official. The Ms. Foundation for Women, the originator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, is re-inventing the 10-year-old program. On April 24, companies are being asked to stage Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Working with the Families and Work Institute of New York, Ms. has put together a curriculum companies can use to get boys as well as girls thinking about how to balance work and family.
Things will not change until employers hear their sons asking for help balancing work and family needs, says Ms. Foundation President Marie Wilson. She points to a study that shows boys want to be able to take time off work to be with their children. “We’re all for boys clamoring for it.”
This is the natural evolution of a program that started out to make girls visible in the workplace, Wilson says. Organizers realized they were paving the way for girls into the work world. But once they got there, the girls still asked, Is it possible to have a family and a career? They hope that by bringing boys into the work-and-family discussion, the pace of change will accelerate.
This year’s program is still controversial. Some teachers believe April 24 is too disruptive to school programs. Why, they ask, aren’t kids invited to work during the summer school holidays?
Because that would leave out too many low-income children, says Carrie Fernandez, who manages the program for Ms. In many low-income communities, teachers find volunteers willing to invite kids into their workplaces.
Despite the depressed economy, support for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work is higher this year than ever before, Wilson says. She thinks that may be a signal that companies support the idea of including boys or that companies support the idea of bringing males into the work-family discussion.
Over the last 10 years, 71 million American adults and 11 million girls have participated in Take Our Daughters to Work Day in some form, the foundation says.
Zachary Matuszczak loved it so much last year that he was ready to go back again the next day—even though it meant getting up at 4:30 a.m. to join his mom at Fed Ex’s sorting operation.
“My favorite memory of the day was looking in my rear-view mirror and seeing my son fast asleep (we were just pulling out of the parking lot),” Matuszczak says. “Ever since that day, he understands why I go to sleep right after he does.” For information, visit www.daughtersandsonstowork.org.
-- Cindy Richards