Read the wrong way, Take a Girl Child to Work Day could sound rather sinister – imagine it said in a ‘bring your Earthling followers to the meat grinder’ voice, for example. But it’s actually a pretty cool annual event designed to expose school kids to the world of work and hopefully encourage them to do something about the shocking gender parity stats in South Africa, which only get worse when you throw race in to the mix.
According to a report released on Monday in State Owned Entities (SOEs) – ie the public sector – only 16% of board members are women, and 22.5% of all board members are black. Bring a Girl Child to Work Day isn’t a panacea for this state of events, but at least it’s about encouraging young women to think of roles they can train for and aspire to during their lives, rather than give up in despair at the awfuleness of it all (which is probably what I’d do). It’s organised by phone company Cell C – which would usually make me write it off as a marketing gimmick – but has been around long enough that I don’t think of their involvement any more than I think Mars is integral to the London Marathon (Mars does still sponsor the London Marathon, right)?
Anyways, we’re taking part in Take a Girl Child to Work Day tomorrow, and by ‘we’ I mean one of the websites I help to oversee, Girl Guides. Only in a rather unfortunate turn of events, we’re taking our work to girl childs rather than the other way around. Because we work from a very small office, we asked Cell C’s organising team if they wanted to send two children to spend the day with us, guest editing the Girl Guides blog. One Monday, Lungelo – our writer – and I went to meet the kids at their school, Phefeni Senior Secondary in Soweto. It’s in a really neat little tourist area, just behind the famous Mandela Family Restaurant, which as far as I know has nothing to do with the Mandela family but is indeed a restaurant.
Only we found out that the school was expecting to send 20, not two, kids to us.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the funds to pay for a bus to shuttle 20 kids from Soweto to the other side of the CBD, nor do we have the space in the office to do anything useful with 20 school girls should they get there. Other than shut them in the podcast studio and hope they can figure it out for themselves. Which meant that the whole thing was in danger of being called off. For us, anyway, not the national project, obviously.
Fortunately, the teachers at Phefeni have agreed to reverse things around. Lungelo and I are going to work from the school tomorrow, and do a high speed introduction to journalism session with a guide to setting to setting up a Tumblr blog for the school instead. Hopefully our complete lack of preparedness and my vague terror at the idea of having to keep a class of 20 school girls interested in what I do for a living for more than a couple of minutes won’t spoil the day for all. I think it’s going to be kind of fun, and with a bit of luck, useful too.
Will report back tomorrow… or not.