Using data drawn from recollection and research into girls' schooling in the early 1980s this paper reprises the themes which guided action for gender equity in schooling. The focus is on girls' schools and the ways in which they sought to counter hegemonic male dominance in the relations of schooling. The paper presents a picture of teachers and students in girls' schools working across a range of fronts, united in a commitment to the furtherance of better outcomes for girls. Analysis of this work reveals different levels of success for girls and their teachers in terms of the realisation of girls' educational potentials. The argument put forward in the paper concerns the ways in which moves for greater equity in schooling outcomes for girls became vertaken through the 1990s by mainstream equity intiatives which themselves worked to disguise fundamental class differences in educational experience and achievement. Finally the paper offers an analysis of the ways in which the early debates around gender and education have been transformed by more recent developments in government policy and schooling practices such that their original liberatory intent has been marginalised and/or rendered powerless.