Ban Bossy: Encouraging Girls to Take Charge
Ever wonder why it is that “take charge” boys grow up to be men who become bosses, while “take charge” girls grow up to be women who become “bossy,” or worse? It’s the question at the core of a new public service campaign spearheaded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA Anna Maria Chavez. Their campaign, Ban Bossy, is aimed at encouraging leadership in young girls, and I could not be more behind the effort.
As a woman, and a working woman at that, it is incredibly frustrating to live in a society that reveres men like Steve Jobs for his innovation, brilliance, creativity and leadership (did you know they’re thinking of putting him on a stamp?) while keeping his abrasiveness and nearly tyrannical leadership style a footnote. And at the same time, women leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Marissa Mayer to Hillary Clinton are often defined first for being “bossy” or “*itchy” before we begin to examine their actual leadership accomplishments.
And girls are keenly aware of this at a young age. My daughter isn’t much of a leader. She isn’t exactly a wallflower, but even her teachers note that her confidence levels fall behind her abilities. I work with her to “be bold.” That’s what I call it with her. I want her to be bold, to be brave. I want her to make her voice heard. I don’t want her missing out on what she deserves in life just because she wasn’t willing to claim it. But when I ask her sometimes why she didn’t stand up for what she wanted in a particular situation, she’ll tell me she didn’t want to make someone else feel bad. Or she was afraid of being put down by a friend. And I can translate that into: she didn’t want to “be bossy” or be “perceived as being bossy.” And this lingers in life so much longer for girls than it does for boys.
So I’m behind the campaign. Be Bold. Be Brave. Ban Bossy.
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