Daughters prepare for careers by following moms to work

by Dawn Throener

For Anya Benda, the best part of Thursday’s Take Our Daughters to Work Day wasn’t a lesson about women’s career aspirations.
It was the silly putty the Society of Women Engineers made.
“I liked putting it in my hand,” said 9-year-old Anya.
The University has been celebrating the day, which takes place on the fourth Thursday of April, since its inception by the Ms. Foundation six years ago. The Ms. Foundation is a national group that promotes women’s issues.
The University’s Minnesota Women’s Center sponsored numerous activities throughout the day, from a luncheon with female student leaders to a “Who Said Science Can’t Be Fun” event where aspiring scientists could look at a human brain.
This is the second year Ingrid Benda, principal secretary of the School of Dentistry, brought Anya. However, her 10-year-old son Ian attended for the first time Thursday.
Boys are welcome at the events, said the women’s center’s program coordinator Jenny Ryan. Although the day is dedicated to the needs of girls, the center got many calls from parents who want their sons to see women in the workplace.
“It was interesting to learn about science,” said Ian, who added that he wanted to come back next year.
University employee Theresa Tichich and her 13-year-old daughter, Lily Loney, watched as other girls meticulously stitched sponges with the black thread doctors use to stitch wounds at the “Who Says Science Can’t Be Fun” event in Coffman Union.
Tichich said they planned to attend “An Hour in the Life of a Small Animal Veterinarian” and an ice cream social on the St. Paul Campus in the afternoon.
“It’s important for young women to not only spend time at the job, but to see the campus as a whole,” said Tichich, who added that the University is supportive of outreach initiatives like Take Our Daughters To Work Day.
However, Tichich said the day should be held in the summer months because she doesn’t think girls should be taken out of school to attend work with their parents. She added that her daughter’s school was closed Thursday because so many students were absent last year for the day.
Lily, who said she wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up, especially enjoyed skating at lunch.
University employee Anita Rios and a co-worker each brought one girl to work and divided up the day so each could work part of the day.
“It is important for girls to visualize the careers,” said Rios, a coordinator of Faculty Programs who brought her niece for the first time this year. “The women’s center did a splendid job.”
“People are excited and that’s all you can ask for,” Ryan said at the end of the day.