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Give Daughters Their Own Day

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APRIL 27 is the third annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and as the mother of two little girls, I'm excited. But I'm also concerned that the success of this event, sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women, is spawning a misguided replacement: ''Take a Child to Work Day.''

Some corporations are adopting this as a morale-builder for employees and their families. To do it right, they think they should wrap boys and girls into one day, creating a more efficient and egalitarian event. Already a number of major American firms, such as Ford Motor Company, Apple Computer, and Colgate-Palmolive, are falling into this trap.

I remember when my dad sponsored his own annual Take Your Offspring to Work Day. My brother and I would wear our sharpest outfits and take the train into Boston with dad. I think his motive was not to inspire career goals but to help us understand where dad disappeared to each morning, to give us a midsummer adventure, and to show us off. He would introduce us to everyone from his secretary to his bosses. At lunch, we walked to the Boston Common and fed the ducks and rode the famous swan boats. I felt loved and that my dad was proud of me. Every child should bask in that kind of attention.

But I also noticed a few things -- at my dad's office and at home -- that make me think taking a daughter to work deserves to be celebrated separately.

I met the ''big enchiladas'' in my dad's office. None wore nylons and heels. I saw no female superiors or peers, no one like me or my mother.

My mom had her own successful real estate office when I was growing up. But she also was responsible for all meal preparations (except for Saturday night supper, when dad would heat up some hot dogs and a can of beans), laundry, housework, discipline, caring for sick children, and getting us to and from our activities. Many of today's moms will find that a familiar scenario.

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