When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Bossy sends a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up… Together we can encourage girls to lead.


Pop Wrapped (popwrapped.com)

This heartwarming and noble message has slowly been stretching across the United States, thanks to the #BanBossy movement by Girl Scouts and Sheryl Sandberg, the author of best-selling book “Lean In” and chief operating officer of Facebook.


The notion is simple: by calling young girls bossy or sassy when they are asserting themselves, it discourages them from growing into leaders.



The #BanBossy web site is powerful. According to their statistics, “between elementary and high school, girls’ self–esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’,” and girls are called on less in class and are interrupted more than boys.


According to ABC News, Sandberg believes that by refraining from words like “bossy,” we could change the world. “We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead,” Sandberg said, “and if you ask girls why they don’t want to lead, whether it’s the school project all the way on to running for office, they don’t want to be called bossy, and they don’t want to be disliked.”


Celebrities and companies like Beyoncé, Jane Lynch, Lifetime, Always, BBDO New York and many others are jumping at the opportunity to partner on the #BanBossy movement.


However, this does not mean there are people who believe that this movement is hitting the mark on gender equality. The Huffington Post suggests that while the idea is noble, it has been executed poorly as the word “bossy” does not quite mean what they insinuate it means. The article quotes the dictionary definition of bossy which is: “given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering.”


Yet, this is their point, that young women with leadership attributes are being told that they are bossy — a negative word with plenty of negative associations. Let us create an example as a point of reference. Your young boy and his friend decide to have a lemonade stand to make money to buy a new toy at the store they want. His friend then says that they should make cookies, and proceeds to assign tasks to each of them. Perhaps his friend says, “I will make the cookies, and you make the lemonade.”


What if his friend was a girl? Would your opinion of the young boy’s friend suddenly change from a boy taking charge to a bossy young girl? If you call the little girl bossy but you would not call the little boy bossy, then you are implying that young girls are not allowed to be leaders.


The actual idea that girls who display the same behavior as assertive boys are bossy is what the entire movement is all about. In our society today, we have this expectation of female behavior that there is bound to be resistance and misunderstandings.


Even in the workplace, a female boss is expected to assign tasks and ask for help as if it were a favor; whereas a male boss does not have to dole out the same courtesies. Think about it: how does your male boss assign tasks? How would a female in the same position assign the same tasks?


By using the word bossy, young girls will end up refraining from speaking up again, perhaps lose self-confidence, and shy away from leadership roles. At the very least, a young girl might change her language so that she does not appear to be assertive — a lesson that little boys are not taught — at least in the same way.


It is not about the word “bossy,” per se. It is about the fact that girls are labeled bossy when they do the same things as boys, yet boys are not being called “bossy” — boys are called “leaders.” The word bossy is used as a tool to discourage future acts of leadership in girls. That is the entire point about the #BanBossy movement. It is about the bossy discourse, not about allowing rude or aggressive behavior.


To learn more about the #BanBossy movement, or to buy gear to show your support, visit the #BanBossy website.


What do you think of the #BanBossy movement? Do you think that it hits the mark? Let me know in the comment below or tweet me @kateeb790!