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Celebrating Title IX & Closing the Gender Gap

From Our TeamLeadership

Closing the Gap

Other than memories, I don’t have much saved from my high school days; but, for some reason, I’ve managed to hold on to a paper I wrote my senior year entitled, “Expect the Best From A Girl, That’s What You’ll Get.” 

I stumbled across the word-processor-generated, yellowed printout while unpacking during our recent move back to Chicago. The paper starts with a flashback:

“At my sixth-grade ceremony in June 1991, awards were given out to the 11 and 12-year-olds who were heading to junior high. Awards went to some of my girlfriends for having ‘the sweetest personality,’ and for being the ‘gossip queen’ or the ‘best artist.’ Boys got awards for being a ‘quick wit,’ the ‘biggest jokester,’ and ‘the most scientific.’ I received an award for being the ‘most cooperative.’ I was aware of the gender bias in this award, and I fought to keep it from affecting my ambition. However, for too many young girls, these subtle biases in school and at home continually reinforce the concept of the female sex being the weaker sex. Until this, and other subtle kinds of stereotyping, are recognized and stopped, girls will continue to lose ground in the battle for equal opportunity, both socially and economically.”

Reading this paper today, I still remember how pissed off I was by being considered the “most cooperative.” The irony of the award was not lost on me, even at that young age. 

I then went on to explain, “The patterns of girls’ lives apparently become the patterns of women’s lives. In far too many areas in the professional world, these are patterns that lead young women to second-class status. This difference in status between boys and girls leads to large disparities in achievement, referred to as a ‘gender gap.’ We must seek to eradicate this gap.”

Come So Far, Still So Far to Go

My version of a dissertation on Title IX followed–it was not a celebratory or rosy picture of the ground-breaking law that passed in 1972. I quoted American University professors, Myra and David Sadker: “As the 1970s drew to a close, disappointment mounted. It became clear that the hope placed by educators in the power of Title IX was not to be fulfilled. The law may have been on the books, but many schools did not take it seriously.” 

I reflected on the progress that had been made in narrowing the gender gap in education and in the “working world,” but I lamented, “there are still too many areas where gross inequalities stubbornly remain.” 

I talked about the lack of gender representation across the workforce and at the highest levels in corporate America and politics. I talked about the gender pay gap (back then, college-educated women received under 75 cents for every dollar earned by their male colleagues with the same education), the growing importance of women’s wages to total family income, and the “glass ceiling.” It was clear to me then–and remains, unfortunately, all too clear for me now–that the passage of legislation does not always guarantee a solution to the problem. 

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, we see that there is still a long way to go to close the gender gap in society. We acknowledge and celebrate the resilience and the efforts of the generations before us, but we all have to keep working hard to make the world more equitable for the generations to come.

Our Bold, BREAKTHRU Mission

Today, I am proud to be a part of a company that is fully committed to working to close the gender gap as we seek to fulfill our mission to empower women to lead boldly and support their work to make the world a more equitable place. I am grateful for the opportunity we have to serve remarkable and courageous clients like Andrea Martin-Inokon, Corinne Milien, Allison Feaster, Kathy Delaney-Smith, Angela Ruggiero, and Ngozi Musa, who are pushing themselves, their teams, their industries, and society forward. These women are breaking barriers and doing the work–day in and day out–to promote equity and close the gender gap. 

We are proud, this month and every month, to collaborate with women like these who are making a difference. Let’s keep being fearless together.

Together we can make a difference.


Laura Barnard, BREAKTHRU Brand’s Founder, has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University, an MBA in Marketing & Strategic Management from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and nearly two decades of experience in marketing and brand management. Learn more >

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