“Bossy” is definitely a word that has negative connotations, especially when it is used on a female. While being too bossy isn’t always a good thing, when women step up as a leader, they tend to be called “bossy” more often than men, who are just “authoritative” or “leaders.”
Sandberg — who is the COO of Facebook and author of the best-selling book “Lean In” — is launching a campaign to ban the word “bossy,” arguing the negative put-down stops girls from pursuing leadership roles.
“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.”
Sandberg said these attitudes begin early and continue into adulthood.
“We call girls bossy on the playground,” Sandberg said. “We call them too aggressive or other B-words in the workplace. They’re bossy as little girls, and then they’re aggressive, political, shrill, too ambitious as women.”
LeanIn.org, Sandberg’s nonprofit organization has partnered with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez on the Ban Bossy campaign. It includes a website filled with stories and quotes from prominent women, tips for parents, kids, teachers and others about how to encourage young female leaders, and a social media campaign for sharing facts and tips linked to the hashtag #banbossy.
The groups also partnered with Lifetime to produce a PSA for the campaign, above, featuring many familiar faces, including Beyonce, Jennifer Garnier, Condoleezza Rice and Jane Lynch.
“If you look at the world, women do 66 percent of the work in the world. Woman produce 50 percent of the food. Women make 10 percent of the income and women own 1 percent of the property. We are 50 percent of the population. We are 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs,” Sandberg said. “We are 17 percent of the board seats. We are 19 percent in Congress. That’s not enough for 50 percent of the population. We live in a world that is overwhelming run and owned by men.”
During an interview at Facebook headquarters, Sandberg and Chavez point out that they are not encouraging rude, mean-girl behavior or bullying.
“Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression,” Sandberg said. “Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.”