Banning the word bossy may seem ridiculous on paper, but it is a word that has strong negative connotations for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, singer Beyonce, actors Jennifer Garner and Jane Lynch, and former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Sandberg has recruited the powerful women in an effort to eliminate the word bossy from being used to describe females in a new campaign aptly called Ban Bossy.
The author of the phenomenally successful Lean In says says labelling females ‘bossy’, especially young girls, sends a message that speaking up is bad.
“Starting at a surprisingly young age, girls are discouraged from leading. When a little boy asserts himself, he is called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy”—a precursor to words like “aggressive,” “angry” and “too ambitious” that are often used to describe strong female leaders,” a Ban Bossy press release states.
“It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys, a trend that continues into adulthood and reduces the ranks of women at the top of organisations everywhere.”
Sandberg has long been an advocate of banning words like bossy that make women and girls less likely to strive for the top. In Lean In, she says it was a label used to describe her in high school and one that she is keen to eradicate.
“We need to recognise the many ways we systematically discourage leadership in girls from a young age—and instead, we need to encourage them,” she says.