By Patrick Fergus

The school-wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX continued on March 22, 2023, with a lecture titled “Title IX Across the Professions.” A panel of Springfield graduates detailed their experiences as women in male-dominated fields such as engineering, sales and cybersecurity.

Led by 2022-23 Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics Kathy Mangano ’86, G’88 and Director of Non-Discrimination Initiatives/Title IX Administrator & 504 Coordinator Erin Leeper, G’11, members of the campus community were invited to a panel discussion that featured personal experiences and provided ways for attendees to advocate for strengthening the future of Title IX and gender equity in various professions.

Facilitated by Assistant Professor of Communications and Sports Journalism Aimee Crawford, panelists included: Linda Cruse Moffat ’73, Former Vice President for Northeast Region Sales, Vice President for Target Marketing, Vice President for Sales Development, and Account Executive at Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc., Elizabeth Ruggiero ’93, Senior Cybersecurity Engineer for Sealed Aid in Charlotte, N.C.; Carla Lide-Buglione, G’11, Senior Manager and Player Engagement for the National Football League, and Megan Baildon ’17, Software Engineer for Farm Credit Financial Partners in Springfield, Mass.

Starting the evening, Moffat talked about the historically male-dominated industry of sales, an area that certainly had saleswomen few and far between when she began her career.

“There was usually one or two women in the room, and it was quite hard to get your voice heard,” Moffat said.

Even after her successful career, Moffat advocates for drastic changes in women’s job selection.

“I don’t think we will ever see gender equity in the workplace until we see more women at the executive levels, who get more women seriously considered in the selection process,” she said.

Lide-Buglione, the senior manager of player engagement for the NFL, commented on the different barriers that women face. Buglione recounted a specific incident when she overheard a few male coworkers discussing their pay. She was shocked that despite the men being several ranks below her, they received better payment.

“It was very surprising, and also confusing, that they would be receiving more than me despite the gap in standing,” Buglione said.

As a mother of two, Buglione also observed the contrasting treatment from her coworkers after she had returned from maternity leave a second time.

“I had a lot of people telling me before I went back that it was going to be different,” Buglione said. “It was their thinking that I couldn’t handle the same workload or responsibilities just because I had kids at home.”

For Ruggiero, it isn’t just about seeing more women in the workplace, but about the respect they should receive. As a cybersecurity engineer, her job revolves around helping people who don’t understand what’s wrong.

“As a woman in a field that typically sees men fixing the problems, it can be tough to get the respect and trust that we deserve,” Ruggiero said.

After the questions were turned over to the audience, the panelists offered advice for women entering male-dominated fields. Their experiences shaped their perception of what it meant to be in the minority in their industry. Still, a similar message prevailed throughout the different career journeys to keep breaking barriers.

Multiple panelists echoed that businesses controlled mainly by a single gender will look out for their own and won’t do the other any favors.

“Speak up and advocate for yourself, because no one else will,” Buglione said. “For me, it’s a driving force and motivator to do that much better than what is expected.”

An additional aspect the panelists all agree on is the importance of patient persistence. Gaining the confidence to speak up or putting in the work to stand out all comes with time.

“I want young women to see myself and others like me and understand that women can do it in a man’s world, and be really good at it,” Buglione said.

None of the four guest speakers let their gender define them in the workplace, and have carved out successful careers despite any unjust treatment or roadblocks they may have faced.

Their stories incorporate the primary purpose of Title IX.