Posted by: Silvia Pereida | November 4, 2019

Gert Boyle Chairwoman of Columbia Sportswear Dies at 95 “One Tough Mother”

News broke today of Gert Boyle passing away at the age of 95 years. The pioneering woman etched her name in Oregon and the sportswear industry, her quick wit, and fearless attitude carried her far in a male-dominated industry.

Gert Boyle immigrated to the U.S. from Germany escaping as Adolf Hitler came into power. She even foiled her attempted kidnapping during an invasion in her West Linn home at the age of 87 in 2010! According to the Oregonian Boyle ended up bruised up and when an officer asked her if she was alright she replied, “Everything was okay until you came in with that North Face Jacket.” Love that even in a horrible and scary situation she found the humor in life.

In chapter six of the textbook, we learned about cultural dimensions, as researched by Geert Hofstede who developed the theory. For this purpose, we are focusing on the fourth dimension that looks at “the relationship between biological sex and what is considered to be sex-appropriate behavior” (Dainton & Zelley, 2019, pp. 100-101). Masculine cultures use “the reality of biological sex” to create distinctions in roles for men and women. The U.S. is a masculine culture, as distinguished by the wage gap and the number of CEOs at the top being men. In an article by the Oregonian Gert Boyle pivoted Columbia Sportswear out of a bad place, reporting that after her husband died the company net sales rose to $2.47 billion in 2017. Boyle’s shares alone in the company were worth nearly $900 million in 2018, making her one of the wealthiest Oregonians (Duin, 2019).

Duin 2019:

“The world might never have known her talents but for the fact that her husband died so young,” Brown says. “She never gave up. She represents what I think when I think about Oregon: We are mavericks, innovators, creators.” (Duin, “Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95”, 2019)

Boyle went on to become the first woman inducted into the Sporting Goods Association of Fame (Duin,2019). She was also part of a campaign for the company – emulating the tough masculine persona in a male-dominated business world, something that she wasn’t an early fan of according to the Oregonian “she wasn’t convinced a male-dominated audience would appreciate glamour shots and such taglines”(Duin,2019).

Here is a link to the campaign video:

Besides saving Columbia Sportswear from the pits – Gert Boyle was also a mother as quoted in the Oregonian “some of the skills I learned as a mother and running a household were very transferable to the workplace – skills like urging people to get along with each other, and not spending money unless you have it” (Dui, 2019).

Cheers to a pioneer woman who knocked down the glass ceiling made a name for herself and took no crap from anyone. All while raising a family.


Duin, S. (2019, November 3). Gert Boyle, ‘One Tough Mother’ who led Columbia Sportswear, dies at 95. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from

Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2019). Culture. In Applying communication theory for professional life (4th ed., pp. 100–101). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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