Last week, the IT Department hosted 25 children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event is a great way to encourage both girls and boys to consider careers in health care and information technology.
I kicked things off at breakfast and talked with all the participating young people (ages 6-13) and their parents. I met many of the parents and children individually as they signed in and ate breakfast. One parent said to her child that I was her boss’, boss’, boss. I said they should think of me like the principal at their school — in charge of everyone in our IT department. I thought it would relate to them better than saying CIO.
At the opening session, we asked all the children to tell us their name, grade in school, and what they want to be when they grow up. We also asked the parents to introduce themselves and say what their job was in a way the kids could understand. The children’s aspirations included heart surgeon, pediatrician, nurse, and veterinarian. Many want to be teachers, including a math teacher in particular. And many named technology fields including robotics engineer, video game testing, and chemical engineer. It was great to hear and see their enthusiasm!
I’ve spoken and written in recent months about the importance of encouraging young women to pursue technology careers. And I’m committed to helping develop the next generation of health IT leaders. Actions that leaders can take include supporting programs like Girls Who Code and Mouse.org, speaking to student groups, and of course making sure you host a Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work event each year on the fourth Thursday in April. The program is aimed at girls and boys ages 8-18.
Some background on this annual day:
- Started in 1992 as “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” by Gloria Steinem as a project of the MS Foundation.
- Created to help show girls that being smart was something to be proud of, not something to hide, and that their ideas could be heard and had value.
- By 1996, over 5 million girls in 14 countries participated in the annual event.
- In 2003, it was expanded to include boys — “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” recognizing that boys too faced gender stereotypes in careers.
- As of 2012, at least 37 million people had participated in the program in 3.5 million workplaces. In 2011, 92 countries participated, including China and India.
The theme for 2015 was #MPOWR Knowledge + Choice = Strength. It’s critical that our children feel empowered in all they do. They should learn a broad range of subjects and make choices that are right for them.
Prior to yesterday, I reached out to some of our IT staff for their stories as parents for past such events.
Wendy Blackman, one of our administrative assistants, shared her story and why this annual event is so important:
I had the privilege of bringing both my daughters to work with me on several occasions. That has to be at least 17 years ago. My oldest daughter has now completed two bachelor degrees, one of which is for a BSN in Nursing. My youngest daughter worked temporarily in our department to support the new children and women’s hospital a few years ago and more recently on our EHR implementation. She has a BS degree in Business. It is very important for children to be able to visit the workplaces of their parents. It helps them have a visual idea of where their parents are spending most of their day and it gives them an understanding of what kind of work their parents do. It helps children begin to formulate goals for their future and careers that they may pursue.
John Sdao, one of our technical staff on the Windows Server/Exchange team also shared his perspective:
I always thought bringing your kids to work was important for many reasons. I think a few things rubbed off on them:
- Work ethic: Be on time and work a little harder.
- My kids still remember the people that I work with. They are more engaged in discussions about my work life.
- I don’t think IT will be in their future but they were very impressed with the old data center, and the “behind the scenes” view of what it takes to deliver that one email message.
- They enjoyed the tours of the hospital including the helicopter tours. They were impressed and understood from this angle how important our health system is in delivering care.
Dan Tomajko, our QA manager, brought his 9-year-old daughter, Alexandria, in yesterday. Along with writing her own blog, she has a range of career interests at this point. As Dan shared with me after the event:
It will be interesting to see where she ends up. Her latest revelation is that she wants to be a chemical engineer, but she has also expressed interest in neurosurgery and is also interested in law. Whatever she decides I am confident that she will be successful — she is incredibly motivated. She enjoyed “the principal’s” presentation and was very impressed with the Data Center. Getting to see the Survival Flight helicopter was a bonus since her mom gets to fly with the Brandon Neonate Team. She enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you and is already talking about next year.
Seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces yesterday was great fun — they had a data center tour, a survival flight tour, got to see what’s inside a computer and how video systems work. And of course they got a pizza lunch with their parents! While we won’t know for some time what, if any, long term impact the exposure to their parents’ work in IT has on them, these events are building blocks as they learn about careers that are open to them. And of course, there are the jobs of 10 years from now, when they are in college, that don’t even exist now.
My guess is that there were some interesting dinner conversations last night for the parents and children who participated.