Tucked into the back of last week's sports pages was news that the Bush administration will refrain from killing Title IX. Other administrations have hailed Title IX as a boon to gender equality in the United States. But for the Bush administration, it was a close call, and this should scare everyone.

Title IX mandates that schools that receive federal funding provide an equal number of sports opportunities for men and women. This law is responsible for a huge increase in women who play sports, and women who play sports are better able to succeed in the workplace than women who don't.

In 1973, when Title IX came into being, few girls or women played organized sports. Today 96% of women who have children say they would offer a daughter either more or the same encouragement to play sports as they would offer a son. According to Jane Gottesman, editor of Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like, “The stigma attached to girls’ participation in sports is gone. Helped along by Title IX, there is a clear understanding that the benefits of athletic participation accrue equally to men and women.”

According to Sports File, “Women executives who participated in organized sports after grade school were less likely to feel like sports alienated women in the workplace.” These women said sports helped them to be more disciplined, function better as part of a team, and develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success. Sports also helped women deal with failure.

So why was the usefulness of Title IX challenged? In order to comply with the law, universities have had to cut male teams in order to keep parity between men's and women's teams. The opponents of the law are organized, vocal, angry and almost all male. They complained that the tactics of compliance are unfair because they didn't want their teams cut. (Wrestling coaches, for example, were prominent complainers because so many lost their jobs; wrestling teams are usually one of the first to get cut from the budget since there is no female counterpart.)

The truth, though, is that the reason there is no room for these small men's teams is not that women are taking up their space, it's that university football teams destroy athletic programs. The football teams in Division I frequently carry more than 100 players (more than some professional teams). There is no women's Divison I football, so women reach parity with gymnastics, cross country, fencing — literally hundreds of sports opportunities. Men suffer because all the sports slots for them are taken up by football. Cut that football program and you could save the wrestling team, the gymnastics team and even start a men's badminton team.

But instead of going after football teams, jilted men went after Title IX. Their idea for solving the male sports problem was to trash the provision to protect women's teams. Opponents of Title IX said that women were gaining unfair advantages, which is especially ironic since women make up more than 50% of university students yet even Title IX mandates only 50% of the organized sports opportunities.

Pay attention to Title IX: Intense lobbying from women's organizations thwarted the recent assault on the law, but we should all recognize that on the whole, men are in favor of promoting equality for women until men start to suffer.

Of course, men won't have to worry for a while, because Catalyst reports that a scant 11.9 percent of corporate officers at America's leading companies are women. So men can afford to encourage equality in the workplace. If Title IX is any indicator, as soon as women start approaching equality in the workplace, men will realize that their favored position is at risk, and they will attack the corporate controls that helped women get to parity.

Meanwhile, take Title IX seriously. Sports make a difference in women's lives. If you are in college, join a team immediately — it will help you in your career much more than that accounting class will. If you have a daughter, encourage her to play sports. She doesn't have to play soccer: archery counts, figure skating counts. Every little girl can find a sport if someone is committed to helping her.

Some of you working women think you have no time for sports. Think of athletics like you'd think of career development programs: Imperative to keeping your career in the fast lane. Of the top female executives who played sports, a majority said it gave them a competitive edge at the workplace. Given the current percentages of women in senior management, it's clear that you need that edge.

For better or worse, we live in a society that bestows benefits on those with athletic experience. Celebrate the rescue of Title IX by getting more women into sports: It is never too early or too late.

Most of us have personal problems we hide from our business associates. In fact, most of us have been hiding problems since we were kids. Often, though, these guarded secrets provide a hidden stash of strength at the workplace.

My problems started at tap dance lessons. As an eight-year-old, I didn't know what to do when the teacher said, “Turn left,” but I pretended to know what I was doing. The teacher said to my mom, “Penelope's always a beat behind.”

In high school, I was in advanced English, advanced history, and advanced French. I waited until no one was looking to slip into my remedial math class. My teacher told me, “When you grow up, don't go into business.”

In college, I took a car trip from Chicago to Detroit and went up the wrong side of Lake Michigan. It's a big lake. And Michigan's a big state. So I shocked even myself when I missed the state completely and ended up in Wisconsin. It was around that time that I realized I was dyslexic.

Once I understood my problem, I was able to keep track of recurring problem situations and find ways to avoid them: For example, I became an ace with Excel so I didn't have to do math in my head. And I quit tap dance and took up swing dancing because the lack of structure in swing means that turning the wrong direction looks creative, not brain-dead.

Contrary to many predictions, I flourished in corporate America. Today I don't worry that the dyslexia will hold me back professionally. Now the dyslexia is just sort of interesting to me. I like watching how my brain works, and I like having a better understanding of why I did what I did when I was younger.

But I hide the dyslexia when it comes up at work. It's easy: Frequently someone says, “The bathroom is at the end of the hall on the right,” and then the person sees me turn left. The person doesn't say, “What the hell is wrong with you?” The person just says, “No, turn right.” And I know what to do. It never occurs to anyone that an adult doesn't know her left and right. So dyslexia is a secret I can keep.

In the perfect world, we would all list our secret disabilities on our resumes. These are the pieces of our lives that make us able to overcome adversity at work. Mental illness, physical limitations, family disasters, these are also secrets people keep from co-workers. Of course, if you bring this stuff up in interviews the hiring manager will think you are insanely needy (or just insane) and you won't get the job.

But keep an active stock of your secret difficulties, because these are what make you strong. In the face of these secrets, a screaming client, incompetent boss, or plummeting stock price all seem manageable.

Admittedly, dyslexia is not as earth shattering a secret as it could be; today dyslexia is fashionable among businesspeople and was the cover story of a recent issue of Fortune magazine. Heck, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is dyslexic. Everyone should be so lucky to have a brain so similar to his.

But as CEO secrets start to slip out, take a look at your own secrets. Recognize them for what they are: Huge difficulties that you have overcome to get where you are. And maybe, one day, we will add them to our resumes — in the education section.

My husband and I didn’t argue about my son’s first name. We argued about the last name. At first, I didn’t have a strong opinion, so we gave my son my husband’s name: Rodriguez.

But then I got cold feet. I worried that our son would face discrimination for his name. My husband said, “Don't worry, I get it all the time. He'll get used to it.”

I was surprised to hear that my husband experiences discrimination. Part of seeing someone as a minority is seeing him as other. So, because he's my husband, I don't think of him as a minority. But here's an example he gave me: He works with a think tank that researches solutions to homelessness. Sometimes when he meets with leaders of homeless shelters, the leaders mistake my husband for one of the homeless. This never happens to his counterpart: Jay Alexander .

But my husband kept telling me it doesn't matter. He said that to me once a week for nine months until I believed him.

What did I know? I have never had a name that identifies me as a minority, so I don't know what it's like. My great-grandfather changed the family name so that it would not sound Jewish and his sons could get through Harvard's quota system. (The change worked, they got in.) In the family tradition of changing one's name for one's politics, I changed my last name when I was in my early twenties because I didn't want to be part of a patriarchal naming structure. (In this case, I'm not sure if the change did anything.)

My husband always says, “It's no big deal.” But now I am sure that it is a big deal.

A recent study from the University of Chicago and MIT shows that people who have names that are typically from minorities are much less likely to get a job. In this study, hundreds of fake resumes with very similar qualifications were sent in response to entry-level job advertisements. A resume from a name like Amy Alexander was fifty percent more likely to get an interview than a resume from a name like Latoya Washington.

This shouldn't surprise me — of course people like to hire people who are like them. And minorities are not running the show in corporate America. In fact, I am guilty, also. Even though I know that diversity enhances workplace success, I also know that managing someone like myself is a lot easier than managing someone who's not like me; it's so much easier to lead people who are already thinking in the same way that I am.

So I can talk until I'm blue in the face about diversity, but I have to admit that I have preconceptions about someone with the last name of Rodriguez and someone whose last name is Alexander. I don't want to have preconceptions, but we can't always control those things. So I thought of changing my son's last name, but then I thought, that's a cop out.

I want to believe that we can control how we approach resumes so that we mitigate our preconceptions by reading resumes without reading names. Each of us is more likely to interview more minorities if we do not read names. It's a simple process that will teach each of us something about our prejudices and ourselves.

While studies show that managing diversity improves one's career, people still resist hiring diverse teams. This means the issue of diversity is no longer convincing people it's good for the office, the issue is convincing individual people that they are part of the problem. And each of us is. So give name-blind resumes a try. See what happens. And who knows? Maybe one day, that resume you might have skipped will be my son's.

The twenty-something set mistakenly believes that men and women are equals at work; meanwhile, the wage gap between men and women continues to increase. The wage gap doesn't affect women until they have a kid — when they are way too busy juggling work and family to shout out to the world about the wage gap. But there is hope: April 24 is Take Our Children to Work Day, an event that aims to draw attention to the fact that the corporate world stifles the careers of people who take care of kids — mostly women.

The event used to be Take our Daughters to Work, but at this point, the problem is not getting women into the management track, it is getting them to stay there.

Last year the United States General Accounting Office released the Women in Management Study which found that women and men have roughly equal levels of education and equal numbers in the work force. But industry by industry, evidence of the wage gap persists. For example, a full-time female communications manager earned 86 cents for every dollar a male made in her industry in 1995. In 2000, she made only 73 cents on the man’s dollar.

A little digging into the study shows that the pay gap was widest among parents, and that in management positions women have a harder time than men doing the career-family balancing act. Across all industries, 60 percent of male managers have children in the home compared to only 40 percent of women managers.

So what's the best way to reach the ranks of senior management? Don't have kids. Women in management make less than men because women find it much harder than men to continue the long, hard hours that management demands once they have kids at home.

Are you one of the women who think this problem will not affect you? Are you thinking you will be able to balance kids and climb the ladder? Then you'll need a stay-at-home-dad to raise your kids. A recent issue of Fortune magazine ran a cover article about how most moms who are high in the ranks of corporate America have a husband at home taking care of the kids. Good luck finding a guy to do that. The men featured in the article were so humiliated at their position that most refused to be interviewed.

One of the biggest barriers to change is that women don't perceive that there's a problem until they have a high-powered job, two screaming kids, and a husband who says, “I support equality; Let's hire a nanny so we can both work.” At this point, the woman is overwhelmed by the demands on her life, and less likely than the man to be satisfied with the nanny solution. These women have little energy to advocate for change in the workplace — in fact, they usually cut back or drop out (hence the wage gap).

So take a kid to work on April 24. Even if you don't have a kid, borrow a kid. These kids will run in and out of cubicles, scribble on white boards, raid the office fridge, and generally have a great time. Hopefully, they will also disrupt everyone's day, annoy the workaholics, and remind people that the corporate ladder does not accommodate people who take care of children.

The first step toward change is to engage in serious discussion. This is not happening now, but it might start happening if change leaders identify themselves on April 24 by bringing a kid to work. These are the people who will help the next generation of parents close the wage gap; these are the people who will scheme with you to reform the workplace. Take notice of the other people who show up with kids. Band together and start your own workplace revolution.

I get a lot of email from people who are 50 years old and older and never expected to be unemployed at this stage in their career. Many of these people are annoyed that they are not appreciated for how much they know. Others are bitter, angry or indignant. Often times, these complaints come down to one thing: age discrimination.

Hiring managers know they shouldn’t discriminate based on age, but they do it anyway. Even when the victim has proof, usually a lawsuit is not as appealing as just getting a job. Ridding the world of injustice is a luxury for those who do not have trouble paying their grocery bills — now or during retirement.

I have not experienced age discrimination, but with sex discrimination I have found that bitterness and anger only hurt me. I am certain I have missed opportunities because I am a woman. But in my early twenties, when I was bitter and angry about sex discrimination, I was bitter and angry wherever I went. And my unpleasant personality hurt me way more than any lost opportunities.

Most hiring managers do not discriminate against women, or older people, but all hiring managers discriminate against people who are angry and bitter. And they should, because angry, bitter people are difficult to work with. So if you want to get a job, you need to stop being angry about the fact that people discriminate against you.

It’s very hard to hide anger and bitterness – they poke out of any little opening they can find. The fastest way to get rid of them: Convince yourself that most people are basically good, and when you encounter an asshole, assume he's an aberration and move on.

I have spoken with recruiters about age discrimination, and recruiters say that age is not an issue if the candidate does not make it an issue; enthusiastic, curious, and ambitious candidates are gems no matter what the age. But some candidates don't want to work for someone younger than they are. Some candidates can't hear constructive criticism because they assume it’s ageism. These people are doomed in the job market because they come off looking bitter. Before you cite ageism, ask yourself who, really, is making the big deal about your age.

My mom is a great example of someone who has overcome the age barrier. She is almost 60 but re-entered the job market at 50. She has received many promotions and she loves her job. I am convinced that her success is due, in part, to the fact that she is never angry about being old, and she is never bitter about reporting to someone twenty years younger than she is.

While my mom is just one person, she is a good example. She has a lot more experience in life than the people she works with, and she could lord that over people in a you-can-learn-from-me way. But instead she focuses on things that are new to her — what she can learn, what she can accomplish. In that way, she conveys the bright-eyed excitement that is essential in an enthusiastic employee.

So if you want to beat discrimination, try to ignore it. I am not suggesting that ageism is okay. It's not. But it exists, and you need to figure out how to get a job in the real world. So accept where you are in life and embrace that. If you are pleased with who you are then you will have a much easier time convincing a hiring manager that she will be pleased with you.

For all of you who are disgusted by the rampant discrimination that really does exist, I have found that the best way to change workplace culture is to infiltrate. You can't change workplace culture by whining from the outside, but you can change it once you are part of it. I have always used my positions in management to hire a diverse staff. You can promote diversity, too. Once you get a job.

My dad just called. He said one of his fifteen-year-old students asked, “Why do we need to know this? How will To Kill a Mockingbird help me in life?” My dad loves questions like that because he has asked them himself.

My dad has always loved school. He was the kid who did the extra credit even though he already had an A. So he had a lot of options at the end of college. He applied to two graduate schools: Yale for history and Harvard for law. He got into them both.

Before I tell you what he chose, I have to tell you about my family. Rich. Mob money. My great-grandfather, my dad’s grandpa, was the lawyer for the Chicago mob: solid work during prohibition and a reliable profession during the depression. Money flowed freely during my dad’s college days, but his grandfather threatened the inheritance if my dad chose history over law. The way my dad tells the story, he always knew he wanted to teach, but he was scared to risk his family “?s wrath, to say nothing of their wealth.

So, after Harvard, my dad went to the top law firm in Chicago (without even having to interview.) My dad hated it, but he wasn’t a risk taker, so he hated it for a long time, thinking the money was worth it. Like the BMW: he drove one of the first cars (when the motorcycle company diversified in desperation) and the cars were so rare that the BMWs would flash each other when they passed. (I’d yell from the back seat, “Hey, there’s one! Flash, Dad, flash!)

There came a point, though when my dad asked himself, “Why do I need to know about all these cases? How is this helping me in life?” His grandpa died, his law firm merged, and the bottom of the BMW fell out.

Finally, after years of thinking his career would get better, it didn’t, and he quit. He went to graduate school to teach high school history. He was older than all the professors. His kids were older than all the students. After thirty years of practicing law, he started over.

I asked him about classes and he’s say, “It’s hard to go back to school. It’s hard to no know what I’m dong after so many years of doing the same thing.” He said his favorite class was the history of civil rights, because when they got to the ’60s he could write papers about his college days.

Upon graduation, everyone in his class got interviews and he didn’t. No one even talked about age discrimination because it was so obviously there and so obviously unavoidable. Finally, though, he got a job. Teaching English. He wanted to teach history, but he’s entry level now. It’s like doing HTML when you’ve got a degree in computer science.

But my dad is thrilled. He took a big career risk and he’s happy. He’s happy to be interacting with the students, but also, I have a feeling that he’s happy he took a risk. Changing careers is so scary, but it’s so empowering-it gives you assurance that you can al ways choose to do what you want most — the hard part is to know yourself well enough to know what that is. So think like a fifteen-year-old and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” And then think like a risk taker and jump like my dad when you know your time is right.

Each time in my career that I have ignored sexual harassment aimed at me, I have moved up the corporate ladder. For example, the boss who once pulled all senior management out of the company’s sexual harassment seminar because he thought it was a waste of time — and patted me on the butt as he left the room — has turned out to be my most reliable cheerleader (and a very impressive reference).

In my first eight days of my job at a financial software company, I was sexually harassed six times by my new boss. This list does not include his sexual harassment of me during the interview process, which I chose to ignore, since it was my first interview at a respectable company in six months.

Maybe you’re wondering what, exactly, I regard as sexual harassment. The easiest conversation to relay is this one:

Me: “Thank you for setting up that meeting; it will be very helpful.”

Boss: “Big testicles.” (He then pretends to squeeze his genitals.)

I had no idea what he meant by this comment, but it is short and easy to relay to make my case.

Here are some other choice moments:

When he took me out for lunch on my second day on the job, he told me he once fell in love with a woman as tall as I am but was intimidated by her height, so they just had casual sex. I said nothing in response.

But I knew, from a legal perspective (and also a moral one) that I needed to tell him his comments were unwanted. So that afternoon when he said, “I want to hug you, but it would be illegal,” I said, “You’re right.”

Each night, I relayed some of the best lines from work to my husband. He was stunned. He couldn't believe these events actually happened in today's workplaces. I told him this was standard. He told me I should sue so that we could go to Tahiti. I told him I’d probably settle out of court after three years for about $200,000, and I’d be a pariah in the workplace.

I told my husband that his very hot, 27-year-old boss gets hit on as much as I do. He said he saw her at work all the time and this never happened. I told him that OF COURSE men don’t harass women in front of other men. After all, it’s illegal. Men are not stupid. But I suggested to my husband he was perpetuating the myth that harassment isn’t widespread.

In fact, 44% of women between ages 35 and 49 report experiencing sexual harassment at the workplace — even though almost every company has an explicit, no-tolerance policy. A national survey shows that 21% of all women report being sexually harassed at work, while a Rutger's University study indicates that for knowledge-based workers, the percentage can go as high as 88%. Yet when women leverage the no-tolerance policy their names are plastered over the business pages, and they are blacklisted in their industry.

So the best way to change corporate America is to gain power and then wield it. To get power, you have to stay in the workforce, not the court system, and work your way up. Unfortunately, this means learning how to navigate a boys’ club. But when you know the system, you then are clear about the root of its problems, and you know how to initiate change.

In this spirit, I hatched a plan to rid myself of my harassing boss. Originally, I took a job in business development, even though I hated selling to clients, because it was the only place with an opening. I told myself that the members of the management team were so smart that I would learn to love sales from them. After weeks of harassment, though, I thought management was so smart that if I explained why I wanted to be moved to another department, they would see my request as extremely reasonable. I figured they would be grateful for my low-key approach to this sensitive problem, rather than resentful that I had been hired to work in biz dev and then asked to be switched to a department with no openings.

I was right. I was moved into marketing, which I prefer. I received a more prestigious assignment and gained a smarter boss. Had I reported that I had been sexually harassed during the interview process I would not have gotten the job. Had I reported the harassment to my boss's boss without presenting a plan for solving the problem, I would not have received a better assignment. In fact, if you have a strategy, enduring sexual harassment can be a way to gain power to achieve your long-range goals.

Epilogue: Eventually, my boss was fired. Officially for low performance, though I have always fantasized that it was for rampant harassment.