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Some Jitters But Mostly Fun On Third Take Daughters To Work Day

April 27, 1995

Parents couldn’t hide their nerves at the county courthouse in Wichita, Kan. as they brought daughters to work Thursday. Like others at official buildings, Oklahoma weighed on their minds.

But millions of girls nationwide had few worries as they skipped school to don hard hats, doctors’ scrubs or other grown-up garb for the third annual day of confidence-building and fun.

Twelve-year-old Liza Pitsirilos liked trailing her Dad around a construction site in New York City because it was ``busy.″ Mickie Lincoln, 11, enjoyed buying supplies for West Point, saying ``daughters need to be encouraged.″

Organizers made a bigger push to include girls with perhaps the least chance to realize their dreams _ the disabled, poor and minorities. Although Chelsea Clinton didn’t attend, girls from public housing breakfasted at the White House. Homeless girls in Maine shadowed a pet store owner and an art professor.

But the exclusion of boys drew increasing growls. Organizers were besieged with calls from irate parents asking why boys aren’t included, and companies and leaders are supporting that demand.

``Boys and girls both need to learn about the workplace,″ said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.. She praised the idea of inspiring young women, but urged the inclusion of boys.

A growing number of companies _ including Ford Motor Co., Gerber Products Co. and Chrysler Corp. _ held ``Take Your Children to Work″ events instead.

Some girls had pangs, too, about excluding boys. ``I kind of feel good that my brother’s not doing it, but I kind of feel bad, because it would be just as educational for them,″ said 13-year-old Rebecca Binns of Wichita.

But the Ms. Foundation For Women, the group organizing the day, isn’t swayed.

``This is a day to pay attention to girls,″ said president Marie Wilson. ``Girls are not very visible. If they had been, we wouldn’t need this program.″

The day was created to counter the steep loss in self-esteem documented in girls 9 to 15 by showing girls they can strive high and be recognized for more than their looks.

An estimated 7 million to 10 million girls joined this year, and governors in 21 states have endorsed the day. In addition, activities were planned in countries from Canada to England, Australia to Chile.

The Oklahoma bombing cast a shadow over some U.S. events, causing worried calls to the New York-based foundation and prompting a New Jersey courthouse to shy away.

``We felt it wouldn’t be a good time to do such a thing″ following the Oklahoma bombing, and due to a shortage of preparation time, said Gregory Edwards, chief administrator of the Middlesex County Court in New Brunswick. He said a few employees brought children nevertheless.

Jitters didn’t deter parents from bringing in 250 girls to the Sedgwick county courthouse in Wichita _ adjacent to the county jail housing Terry Nichols, a material witness in the Oklahoma bombing.

``I gave it some thought,″ said secretary Glenda Roths, who brought 11-year-old daughter Amy in. ``But I hate the idea of running scared.″

The General Services Administration, which operates all federal buildings, said through a spokesman that no special security measures were taken for the day.

Elsewhere, girls donned surgical masks to ``treat″ a newborn baby-doll at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and wore goggles to tour a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, Calif.

Dionica Bell, 11, enjoyed her day at the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, saying it taught her that dentists aren’t just men.

Mark Jackson, a boatbuilder in Vinalhaven, Maine, said he valued his chance to show 9-year-old daughter Hope his work _ and her possibilities.

``It seems important to me to let women know there are other options than making babies and washing and ironing clothes for the rest of their lives,″ he said.

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