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Why Has Equality Eluded Us?


Wrong message. Wrong messengers.

Have you ever tried to convince someone to stop doing a bad thing but no matter what you try they just kept doing it? Well, that's exactly what happened—and continues to happen—to the legion of female rights supporters for more than a hundred years.

Despite more than a century of female rights advocacy and the passing of several important equality laws, boys and men still view girls and women as less than equal. This is true of virtually all males in some way and to some degree, even though most are unaware of their sexist tendancies.

Compare that lack of progress to the achievements of the anti-drunk driving movement. Drunk driving fatalities have been reduced by 65% since 1980 thanks to organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and The Century Council. Now that's effectiveness!

But what's the secret to the anti-drunk driving movement's effectiveness? Why haven't female equality movements achieved this level of success?

Simple: the wrong messengers have been sending the wrong message. And because of that, males simply haven't gotten the message.

Both movements have successfully lobbied for laws to support their respective causes. But laws only penalize bad behavior, they don't prevent it. And preventing discriminatory behavior is the secret to achieving gender equality.

But changing behavior first requires changing beliefs and attitudes, because beliefs drive attitudes and attitudes drive behavior. MADD understood this, and so they created campaigns that changed our collective beliefs regarding driving drunk.

MADD's efforts made it acceptable for people to prevent friends' undesireable behavior (driving drunk), and they made it cool to be a designated driver. MADD understood that people were more motivated to change their behavior from fear of being disgraced by their family and friends than by getting a drunk driving charge.

The lesson girlsCAN! learned from MADD is that to stamp out sexism, we needed to figure out what the right message is, and who the right messengers are. Specifically, we needed to discover how to talk to males in a way that would cause them to embrace gender equality, and who would be most effective at delivering that message.

The result is an easily learned and applied system for achieving gender equality that combines findings from scholarly research with modifications to existing behavior-change methods that have been proven highly effective.

And finally, we vowed that girlsCAN! would become to gender equality what MADD is to sober driving. To find out how we do that, check out our Teaching Methodology.