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.