File this under my new favorite thing: Ban Bossy, a new campaign that encourages girls to become leaders. A project of Lean In and the Girl Scouts, Ban Bossy aims to close the confidence gap in girls, which according to its website, is pretty large: between elementary and high school, girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’. And girls are twice as likely to worry that leadership roles will make them appear “bossy.”
I, for one, have been called bossy for as long as I can remember. I even used to get in trouble for it in preschool: “Maureen, let Douglas play what HE wants to play! Let him out of the play house! Don’t be bossy!”
But I never took this to be a negative thing. I’m not sure why — maybe because my mother imbued in me the concept that girls can do anything boys can do (so leadership was never anything to shy away from), or maybe being bossy is somehow ingrained in my genetic make up. I don’t know. But I’m bossy and I like it. Being “bossy” has made me feel “ballsy” and empowered and not afraid to take on leadership roles or new experiences.
If every girl felt this way, though, there wouldn’t be a need for Ban Bossy. The truth of the matter is that “bossy” carries with it a negative connotation for girls and is discouraged. The ripple effect of being branded “bossy” is long-lasting and holds girls back: they are called on less in school and interrupted more; by middle school they are less interested in leadership; and by adulthood many women are less assertive than they could/should be.
The world needs more female leaders. Despite being half the population, we only hold 19% of U.S. Congressional seats, make up just 5% of Fortune 1,000 CEOs and 17% of corporate boards. What does this mean? Women’s interests and rights will never be fully realized or respected so long as we do not have adequate representation across all sectors of public — and private — life. We need to plant the seeds of leadership early: at home, in school and on the playground.
Ban Bossy offers some excellent leadership tips for girls, parents, managers, teachers and more. Please check them out and pledge to #banbossy. I can’t wait to put these into action with my own daughter and raise one hell of a leader.
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