On Monday Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, launched a campaign to ban the word bossy from being used to describe girls and women.
#BanBossy aims to encourage girls to lead. It’s website says, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’ Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand to speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys — a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”
I’ve always been assertive, and throughout my schooling I held many leadership positions. Because of those positions and the way I assert myself, I’ve been called bossy too many times to count.
Though the word never really bothered me, and it never discouraged me from my goals, I know “bossy” was never a term people used admiringly. They used it when they didn’t agree with me, when they didn’t want to do what I asked them to and when they thought I was wrong in my position.
Though I was rarely phased by the phrase, I can understand how being called bossy would discourage young girls from being assertive.
Beyonce, Jennifer Garner, Condoleezza Rice and other women have joined the Girl Scouts of USA and Sandberg to #BanBossy.
I also joined the campaign, because I think it’s important to encourage everyone to lead, especially young girls.
My minor in college was leadership, and I had a professor in that department who I still admire.
She was a driven, assertive, confident woman, and I’m sure she was called bossy numerous times as she worked her way up the administration ladder at the college.
She was influential to my own college leadership experiences, and she’ll continue to be influential in the managerial and leadership roles I’ll hold throughout my career.
This professor often talked about the hardships women face in leadership and managerial roles. Men are often seen as the boss, while women are seen as bossy. Men are seen as persuasive, and women are viewed as pushy. A man who spends a lot of time away from the home for work is viewed as dedicated, but a woman doing the same is viewed as selfish.
These are just opinions, but they matter. They affect the decisions people make.
That’s why it’s important we stop using the word bossy.
It’s not usually an admirable trait, so calling a little girl bossy may change the way she views herself. It may also change the way people who haven’t met her view her.
We’ve all experienced this before. You’re getting ready to sign up for a class, apply for a job or just meet someone at a party. You have a friend or coworker who already knows this person, and you ask what she’s like.
If someone uses the word bossy to describe this woman, you’re probably not going to be very excited to meet her.
To me, bossy closely resembles another “B” word women are often called. And I’m tired of women being called both.
If you visit the #BanBossy website — www.banbossy.com — you’ll find different ways to share the campaign on social media.
I encourage you to join the #BanBossy campaign. It may be just a word, but words matter.
They hurt just as deeply as sticks and stones and probably leave a longer lasting impression.
Speak up for little girls all over the world. Let them know it’s not only OK for them to speak up, lead the way and be confident, it’s important for them to do so.
One of the young girls we are encouraging to lead today may be our president in 30 years.
Help her reach that goal.