Take Our Daughters to Work Day -- 04/27/00

This is National Take Our Daughters to Work Day.

This was something thought up by the feminist movement a number of years ago; I believe Ms Magazine and NOW were among the originators of the idea. The idea was to give young girls some ideas about career possibilities, etc. A number of major companies (including my employer) embraced the idea; some of these companies then changed it to Take Our Children to Work (again including my employer) which thoroughly pissed off NOW to have boys included.

When we still lived in upstate New York my wife worked for the company that I'm now with; this was a major installation of theirs and they made this a big deal each year with special programs planned for the children, etc. Nancy would take Jennifer and Sean each year. I was working for an aerospace/defense firm with lots of secret areas and very little interest in community relations or in employee morale, so I never got to take my kids to work. We moved to Rhode Island so that I could take a position with that same major employer Nancy used to work for, but this is a very small office. In past years I've seen a few people bringing in their younger kids for an hour or two, but there's never been any kind of formal program here.

I am currently getting involved in preparing to train a different software system than I am currently working with (Internet and java stuff rather than the CICS/COBOL/MVS environment I'm presently working in) and have ended up on email distribution from our Pittsburgh office. As a result, I got a few notices about Take Our Daughters to Work and I got thinking about how my kids had never visited me at work on a work day and since Jennifer is graduating from high school in a few weeks, this could be my last chance to include her... so I asked her if she would be interested and she said yes.

One of the reasons I thought it might work out this year is that I am teaching this week. I don't think there would be much interest in watching me sit in front of my computer and work on updating course material or studying technical reference manuals, etc. Kind of like watching paint dry. Although she did not have the technical background and experience that my students would have, she does understand computers, has been writing her own HTML since junior high school, can write javascript and Pascal (in fact one of her Christmas presents --it was on her Christmas wishlist -- was a copy of Borland TurboPascal for her PC), so I thought she wouldn't be totally lost. [I had ten people in my class, all with the appropriate CICS/COBOL background: one from the finance division of a major manufacturer in the U.K. and the rest from major banks in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico.]

The day has been a success.

It hadn't started very well. I was up my usual time somewhere between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m.), made coffee, fixed lunches, saw Nancy off to work, and was about to sit down with the morning paper and a dish of cereal when I heard the sound of water. At first I thought maybe Sean was taking a shower without having the shower curtain properly in place and was hearing water splashing on the bathroom floor but there was not the deeper sound of the shower running. I was about to go upstairs and check when I suddenly heard closer splashing sounds -- water was running down the dining room chandelier and splashing on the dining room table. I dashed upstairs to find Sean in the bathroom he and Jennifer share, his hands deep in the toilet tank, trying to stop the water from running while it was cascading down onto the floor. Later I was to ask him why he hadn't just used the shut-off valve. He didn't realize that there was one -- which made me realize that, although I had shown the various water shut-off valves to the kids when we had first moved into this house, that was four years ago and Sean had only been in 5th grade then. So, considerable time spent mopping and cleaning and mopping and cleaning -- when we finally did leave the house we left a bowl on the table under the chandelier and another two or three quarts of water dripped down while we were gone for the day -- and finally I got to take my shower and get dressed and Jennifer and I could depart. Thus, instead of getting to work with forty minutes or so to spare, I arrived two or three minutes after I should have begun class. Fortunately, two class members were about five minutes late, so at least I was not the last person to enter the room.

The morning went well. Jennifer was able to follow a lot of my lectures (not everything, of course, but enough to have a general idea of what I was talking about) and when the class had a hands-on exercise I sat with her and we worked through the exercise together. We ate lunch together and talked and I showed her where I usually spend my time (she had been to the site a couple times on weekends but we'd remodeled and moved offices around since then) and introduced her to some of my co-workers.

The afternoon was a lot more technical and complicated, but she did get a lot of the concepts and vocabulary out of it. This time when the class began their exercises she read a novel she has to write a report on for school. This made a longer school day for her -- if she had gone to school she would have been in her car on the way home at least three hours sooner.

I really enjoyed having her spend the day with me and she said that she enjoyed being there.

(Maybe next year I'll bring Sean.)


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