Sheryl Sandberg aims to 'Ban Bossy' so girls can blossom as leaders

Sheryl Sandberg has launched a new 'Ban Bossy' campaign which aims to let girls in leadership shine by removing negative labels such as 'bossy' placed on girls taking charge. What other words for powerful, leading women should be banned?

Screenshot from banbossy.com
This screenshot from banbossy.com is part of a shareable graphic that offers stats about the adverse affects of using labels like 'bossy' on girls. The accompanying statistic with this image reads, 'Between elementary and high school, girls’ self–esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’.'

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has just launched a campaign many women will “Like” since it aims to ban the word “bossy” so girls can be empowered instead of scolded for taking leadership roles.

"We call girls 'bossy' on the playground," Ms. Sandberg told “Good Morning America.” "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."

If life has a “Like” button, I’d be mashing it right now in agreement with Sandburg, who is also the author of the recent best-selling book "Lean In.”

According to GMA, Sandberg's organization Lean In has teamed up with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA chief executive Anna Marie Chávez to launch a public service campaign called "Ban Bossy."

The banbossy.com website is trying to banish the word from our thoughts about girls.

The site gives tips to parents, kids, teachers, and others about how to encourage young female leaders.

I am the mom of four boys who has spent 20 years constantly correcting my sons whenever they refer to an enterprising, organized girl who has taken the initiative in a situation as “bossy.”

It seems there is no end to the put-downs of a female with a will of her own.

Throughout my life, I have also been referred to as another put-down of women in leadership roles: “passive-aggressive.”

I find the expression “passive-aggressive” being used when a woman shows initiative and enthusiasm, gets labeled as one or more “B-words,” and then backs-off in mid-stride because she sees a hurtful branding coming her way.

I still get called “bossy” and “passive-aggressive” when I forget myself and fail to keep up the illusion that I am not the one driving the train on projects I can only get done by working through powerful men.

I have learned the hard way that sometimes the best way to make a difference in my community is to “stoop to conquer” or otherwise drive from the back seat on a project, to avoid being categorized as “bossy” or “passive-aggressive” as a leader.

I have learned to approach projects softly, take my name off them and try to introduce my ideas via the long route by making someone else – oftentimes a  man – think it was his idea. Then I work behind the scenes to see the vision become a reality.

At this point in life, I have pretty much made my peace with it, but there are times when my passion and skill sets for leadership seep through the veneer and I get “bossy.”

My hope is that Sandberg and company will succeed in their efforts so that no other little girl will have to grow up as many women of my generation did, finding work-arounds for her vision and talents.

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