Fort Worth, Texas,
04
April
2014
|
05:54 PM
America/Chicago

From Bossy to boss

Should we ban calling young girls bossy?

“Bossy.” It isn’t something women aspire to hear, but should they? Ban Bossy says no.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and creator of LeanIn.org, has created the Ban Bossy movement. Ban Bossy has supporters ranging from Melinda Gates to Beyoncé all with one goal in mind: empower girls to lead. The movement does more than ban the word “bossy;” it encourages stopping the attitude that follows along with it. Why is this movement important? Ban Bossy says, “Ninety-two percent of girls believe they can learn the skills required to lead – yet only 21 percent believe they already possess them.”

I grew up “bossy.” It was in my genes. The “queen of bossy” herself, my mother, is one of the main reasons I wasn’t afraid to take on leadership roles. In fact, I’ve never just taken on leadership roles; I’m truly passionate about leadership. But never when I heard the word “bossy,” did I ever take it as a compliment.

In 2008, I transitioned from a coed public school to an all girls private school and in a matter of months, my whole demeanor changed. I grew up being ridiculed by peers for being a leader, but now my “bossiness” was being embraced. By September 2009, the timid young girl that I used to be was front and center at game day pep rallies. I had received the greatest gift of my life – my confidence. This was a pivotal four years learning from the legacy of bright, successful, ambitious women. Sure, being in an all-girls environment (especially in the teenage years) comes with its own dramatic ups and downs, but I noticed that instead of fighting to be OK with being a leader I was now at battle with many empowered females to be the best leader of them all.

As I entered college I saw nothing in my way, especially not my gender, from conquering whatever I set my mind to. My first week on campus I met the next biggest motivator in my leadership career. Annie was the president of my sorority and had a way of making taking charge look glamorous. Two years later, at the end of my sophomore year, I became the president of my sorority. From the start, my biggest personal goal was to be the spark, like Annie was for me, which would inspire girls to lead whether as a leader in the sorority or in other organizations in the community. Whatever it was, I wanted to show that being the boss doesn’t always mean you have to be “bossy”.

Whether we realize it or not, strong women make all the difference. Had I not had these women in my life, I might not have been brave enough to defy the hurdles of being called “bossy.” It’s important to keep in mind that while being called “bossy” underlies great characteristics of leadership, the word itself discourages girls from reaching their full potential. Banning “bossy” and the #BanBossy movement are a simple step in making girls and women alike go from being “bossy” to just plain the boss. I got lucky—I had people around me telling me it was Ok to stand out and lead. Some girls don’t get the chance to be empowered. It’s our job to remind them of their strength.

About the author

Caroline Gayler volunteers in the public relations department at Cook Children’s Health Care System. She is a senior at TCU.

Comments 1 - 1 (1)
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Angel
16
April
2014
NO. We should not ban the word "bossy". The English language is a beautiful thing. And not all people who are "bossy" have leadership ability. They may just be "bossy". Rather than banning words, why don't we teach all children leadership from the elementary grades on. That would be a great thing, in this society where people see a catastrophe and they pull out their iPhones to take videos rather than help out. Let's teach kids leadership and followership, and teach them the things that go with leadership, such as ethics and integrity. Let's teach them new words to use instead of bossy, and let's teach them how to understand different personalities and how to be patient and tolerant toward EVERYONE. Let's teach women to be strong without being "bossy". It can be done. Let's teach kids to be leaders, and to be assertive, without being rude or pushy. It can be done. I have done it. Or can it be that banning words is just easier than actually teaching people something? Well, yes, banning words is easier, but I submit that it is not as helpful to society. And by the way, banning words does not cause any positive characteristic to happen, and banning words does not teach any child a skill. It just makes one more word into a big taboo, as it that really made a difference. We have plenty of taboo words already. But we still have stereotypes, and enmity. Let's try a different tactic, this time. Let's make a positive difference instead of the incredibly ineffective banning of words. Let's teach the children.