Let’s Join Together to Ban “Bossy”

A new effort to empower girls to lead was recently launched by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling book “Lean In.” The goal? To ban the word “bossy” from playground conversation.

Women make up 50% of the population but only 9% of the Fortune 500 leadership. The purpose of the Ban Bossy campaign is to stop “labeling” young girls with words that are hurtful and send a negative message.

If we start at a young age calling girls “bossy” they begin to change their behavior so that they will be liked, thereby taking a back seat when it comes to leadership opportunities. In an interview with first grade girls they were asked if it were more important to be a leader or to be liked and they all said – being liked was more important because if they showed signs of being a leader they would be made fun of or called bossy, pushy and other negative words.

In the adult world that leads to men being assertive and women being called a different “b” word.

Sandberg has joined together with other organizations including Girls Scouts of American and several strong female leaders (Beyonce says “I’m not bossy, I am a boss!”) to launch the campaign to stop labeling young girls with negative words and change those words to most positive images:




For those of you with young girls at home, consider these movies Common Sense Media has put together that depict female characters is strong, leadership roles. 

Ban Bossy offers a variety of tools and information to help in the process. For parents there is a Ban Bossy guide to help understand the effects of negative words and how we can encourage our children to embrace their confidence and strive to be leaders.

We also have an obligation to encourage gender acceptance in the workplace. Ban Bossy has created a managers guide to banning bossy at work. Not sure there really is an issue? Check out this quote from the manager’s guide:

When it comes to girls and ambition, the pattern is clear: 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 plague strong female leaders. Calling girls bossy is one of many things we do to discourage them from leading. It’s no wonder that by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys, a trend that continues into adulthood.

So let’s jump on the band wagon to Ban “Bossy” from our thoughts and our vocabulary!