Marilyn Loden, Who Championed a Feminist Metaphor, Dies at 76

At New York Telephone, Ms. Loden and a colleague, Wendy Fleder (now Wendy Tyler), initiated what was then known as awareness training, essentially awareness-raising workshops that were so successful they spread throughout Bell companies, Ms. said Loden, Tyler said in a phone interview.

“Marilyn was smart, assertive and very passionate about what really mattered,” Ms. Tyler continued. “She knew how to pick the right fights, but she also knew how to help people overcome what they had to overcome. It has helped people get rid of the noise in their heads.”

For the past few years, Ms. Loden and Ms. Tyler have had an interior design business in Naples, Florida. “Our careers have not been easy,” said Ms. Tyler. “Marilyn felt that home was a safe place and wanted to help people with theirs.”

Ms. Loden has written three books on gender and diversity in the workplace. In Feminine Leadership: Or, How to Succeed in Business Without Being One of the Boys (1985), she argued that the male leadership model—competitive, aggressive, and driven to win whatever the cost—is damaging to American businesses. She suggested that a philosophy of effective leadership draws on so-called feminine behaviors and traits like intuition, empathy, and cooperation rather than treating them as obstacles.

“MS. Loden believes women shouldn’t buckle up in their tailored suits and briefcases and try to behave like men,” wrote Marilyn Gewax in a review in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Instead, they should stop trying to advocate for a leadership style sorry that tends to make the workplace more productive, vibrant, and human.”

While the zeitgeist may be the real mother of the glass ceiling, in 2019 an American institution credited Ms. Loden with the expression. On April 11 of that year, “Jeopardy!” presented this response in one of its Daily Doubles: “Management consultant Marilyn Loden says she coined this phrase in 1978 for a barrier to female success.”

Stephanie Stein, editor at HarperCollins, had the right question (although she eventually lost to James Holzhauer, one of the show’s longest-running winners): “What’s the glass ceiling?”

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