What do Beyoncé, Ellen and Sheryl Sandberg have in common? They’re all encouraging girls to “ban bossy” in a new campaign that aims to pluck that word from our vocabularies.
Have you noticed? Assertiveness is praised in boys, but discouraged in girls — instead of being lauded for their leadership skills, girls are instead discouraged from speaking up. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is aiming to ban the word “bossy” from our vocabulary when it comes to describing girls. Are you up for the challenge?
Inspiring future female leaders
According to the Ban Bossy campaign, by the time they reach middle school, girls are less inspired to take on leadership roles — and between elementary and high school, girls’ self-esteem drops 3 1/2 times more than does boys’. The word bossy minimizes and dismisses, and it and other similar words can squash ambition. And it’s not relegated to the playground, either — women are similarly dismissed in the workplace. The more a girl is told that she is bossy, the less inclined she will be to speak up, raise her hand or give suggestions.
Ban Bossy has established tips for girls, parents, educators, Girl Scout troop leaders and managers to encourage leadership skills for girls and the women they will become. And Sandberg hopes that by putting the message out, we can stop calling girls bossy and instead, we can help them be the leaders society needs. Of course, this directive is not totally without controversy — some feel that we as a society have become too sensitive, and that attempting to ban words is bossy in and of itself. But others feel that if we think about words before we say them, and instead work to find a better way of expressing ourselves, we will uplift girls instead of dismiss them.
Before you chastise your daughter, your niece, your pupil, your co-worker or your friend for being too bossy next time, reflect on what makes you feel like you need to choose this word, and embrace her leadership skills instead. Will you #banbossy?