A Woman to Know: Marie C. Wilson

The day went "viral" before there was such a thing, and it suddenly became a national phenomenon. — Marie

(image via Marie C. Wilson)

In the years before lady Ghostbusters and diverse Disney princesses, Marie C. Wilson was the original champion of "If you can't see it, you can't be it."

Her 1993 brainchild: Take Your Daughter to Work Day. As a feminist organizer, Marie wanted to correct a fundamental problem: if girls needed to know they could build careers, they needed to see that dream in action. They needed to follow in the footsteps of their working dads and moms. Basically, they needed to see what work looked like. So Marie created Take Your Daughter to Work Day (it was actually started as Take Our Daughters To Work Day), and after a single year of promotion, the idea became a national sensation. Parents and companies united behind the mission, and soon young girls (and later, their brothers, as part of "Take Your Children to Work Day") were sitting in on company-wide sessions, conference calls, board meetings and more.

And Marie's work didn't stop there. Once she joined the Ms. Foundation in 1984, she championed women's programs at universities around the country. In 1998, she founded the White House Project, a taskforce dedicated to fostering women's leadership in all areas of government, from local city councils to (one day, she hoped) the U.S. presidency. She created women's leadership training and professional development programs and mentorships, many with funding and grants for women who otherwise couldn't afford to attend.

In 2004, she partnered with Mattel to create Barbie for President, the first major girls' doll running for elected office. The doll remains a best-seller, upgraded with new campaign outfits and fresh party platforms for each election cycle. As Marie put it, "it allows girls to think about turning Barbie's dream house into the White House." And Barbie isn't registered as a Democrat or a Republican -- instead, she's for "The Party of Girls."

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