Sheryl Sandberg Launches 'Ban Bossy' Campaign to Empower Girls to Lead

AustinIllini

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Sheryl Sandberg Launches 'Ban Bossy' Campaign to Empower Girls to Lead

Can banning one school-yard word really change the world? Sheryl Sandberg says yes.

Sandberg -- the chief operating officer of Facebook and author of the best-selling book "Lean In" -- is spearheading the launch of a campaign today 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."

Sandberg's organization Lean In is joining forces with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez to launch a public service campaign called "Ban Bossy." The banbossy.com website gives tips for parents, kids, teachers and others about how to encourage young female leaders.

Girl Scout CEO: Let's Ban "Bossy"

Chavez said she got involved immediately after receiving a call from Sandberg, and believes the Girl Scouts are ideal partners for the new initiative. More than half of all American women were once Girl Scouts and two million girls are currently in scouting, she pointed out.

"Imagine a classroom in America where 50 kids are present: 25 girls, 25 boys," Chavez said.

"And the teacher walks into this classroom and says: 'Boys and girls, I have this really hard, difficult program that I need to solve that's gonna impact this country.' She writes the problem on the board and then turns around and escorts 24 of the 25 girls out of the room. ... She leaves one girl and 25 boys to solve that equation. That's what's happening every day in this country. Why wouldn't we want more girls to be opting in to building the right solutions this country."

The goal of the "Ban Bossy" campaign is to help girls and women feel more confident and comfortable as leaders.

"I was called bossy when I was in ninth grade," Sandberg recalled. "My teacher took my best friend Mindy aside and she said, 'You shouldn't be friends with Sheryl. She's bossy.' And that hurt."

While she and the other women leaders she is recruiting were able to persevere despite the taunt, many little girls can't, she said.

"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, she and Chavez are quick to 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."

Sandberg said she hopes the campaign will open a dialogue with parents and teachers, to eliminate the use of the word "bossy," though she concedes this is not really as simple as banning one word.

"This is a word that is symbolic of systemic discouragement of girls to lead. We are not just talking about getting rid of a word, even though we want to get rid of a word," she said. "We're talking about getting rid of the negative messages that hold our daughters back."

Sandberg is a director of The Walt Disney Co., the parent company of ABC News.
Thoughts on this? Should we really be banning words?
 

elistan

macrumors 6502a
Jun 30, 2007
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Isn't being bossy what makes them succeed? How many timid people lead?
I doubt she's trying to change how women behave - she's trying to change how women in leadership positions are perceived. "Bossy" is a pejorative, not an accolade. I think she wants "bossy" women to be respected and admired - part of that is by making people think about how they view such women as compared to men, by brining attention to the vocabulary used in regards to them. (Not to say that men aren't immune to perjoratives as well - think how many times Jobs and Musk been called jerks, dicks, a holes or the like...)
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2013
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Aren't bossy girls the ones who do lead?
Yes, that seems to be the point. That bossy people are those that take charge but since women are actively discouraged from being bossy, they are also discouraged from becoming leaders.


I don't think banning a word will change people's attitudes. Although it might make them expand their vocabulary for synonyms for the banned word....
There's a mixed history of changing words to escape the meaning, only to find the same meaning in the new word. Crippled was deemed to harsh so we have handicap. Handicap was deepmed unsupportive, so we have special. I dare you to find a parent who would be happy with their child being called special.

The interesting part here is they are not offering an alternative. In theory, the word will fall out of favor and not be replaced. But if society is not yet ready for teaching formerly masculine values to girls, other ways will be found to discourage them. But I would be surprised if the teacher in her example wasn't female.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
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New Speak. Manipulation of language to limit and control thought.
Sounds exactly like calling a man a ladies man for sleeping with lots of women and calling a woman a slut for the same behaviour.

So it seems very much like old speak to me.

----------

Not to say that men aren't immune to perjoratives as well - think how many times Jobs and Musk been called jerks, dicks, a holes or the like...
They get that reputation for behaving pretty awfully though.
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
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I doubt she's trying to change how women behave - she's trying to change how women in leadership positions are perceived. "Bossy" is a pejorative, not an accolade. I think she wants "bossy" women to be respected and admired - part of that is by making people think about how they view such women as compared to men, by brining attention to the vocabulary used in regards to them. (Not to say that men aren't immune to perjoratives as well - think how many times Jobs and Musk been called jerks, dicks, a holes or the like...)
It's not a language thing. It's a culture thing and mating thing. Pretty much the world over the majority of men don't like placing their penis in frequently used vaginas.

Do you? Doubt it.

Doesn't take much to be a so-called "slut". Just a vagina and a willingness to spread legs open. Even the most heinous crack whore can make rent money.

Likewise you don't see the same aversion shown by women toward men with lots of sexual partners, as a man that is able to accumulate many sexual partners will generally have numerous desirable qualities that are not totally physical.

It's not language manipulation, it's mate selection, mate suitability and competition that make sexual distinctions like you're referring to.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
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It's not a language thing. It's a culture thing and mating thing. Pretty much the world over the majority of men don't like placing their penis in frequently used vaginas.
I guess that's why prostitutes are a figment of the imagination.

Do you? Doubt it.
I couldn't give a damn, I'm much more worried about more important matters such as whether our personalities are compatible, whether we are sexually compatible or how attractive they are.

Doesn't take much to be a so-called "slut".
Thanks for proving my point.

Likewise you don't see the same aversion shown by women toward men with lots of sexual partners, as a man that is able to accumulate many sexual partners will generally have numerous desirable qualities that are not totally physical.
Surely the same applies in reverse, or are you also patronising all men as being unable to resist any female charm at all?

Yes, but a male that works out is a meathead regardless of his actual intelligence.
You have to work out really quite a lot to be called a meathead, you have to be much further outside the norm than to be called a slut as a girl. It'd be like calling a girl a slut for taking a different guy home each day of the week.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
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But a frequently used penis is a point of pride.

The same frequency of sexual activity makes a man a stud, and a woman a slut.

My, how things haven't changed...
 

Technarchy

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May 21, 2012
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But a frequently used penis is a point of pride.



The same frequency of sexual activity makes a man a stud, and a woman a slut.



My, how things haven't changed...

Pride is personal thing.

Plenty of female porn stars doing 100 man gang bangs that feel pride.
 

Technarchy

macrumors 604
May 21, 2012
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It not a matter of personal pride that is the significant intention of my post...it's the judgement of others to which I refer.

Then your failing to include peers into the affirmation what is regarded as positive or negative behavior.

As it turns out most women don't like loose chicks, while a male's reaction to another male's sexual activity is a very complex thing. It could be ambivalence, disdain, admiration. One's own station among males has a big impact on this.
 

Shrink

macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
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New England, USA
Then your failing to include peers into the affirmation what is regarded as positive or negative behavior.

As it turns out most women don't like loose chicks, while a male's reaction to another male's sexual activity is a very complex thing. It could be ambivalence, disdain, admiration. One's own station among males has a big impact on this.
Just the use of the word "chicks" suggests a certain attitude toward women.

And us men...we're just so complex and deep...

Unlike those "chicks".
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
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Oct 20, 2011
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Just the use of the word "chicks" suggests a certain attitude toward women.

And us men...we're just so complex and deep...

Unlike those "chicks".
Except I'm not a "Man", i'm a "guy" or a "creep" because I don't have a six pack.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
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Except I'm not a "Man", i'm a "guy" or a "creep" because I don't have a six pack.
The word "guy" doesn't imply you are a young chicken so I'm not sure how that is comparable. "Creep" is probably worse, but are you actually called that?
 

AustinIllini

macrumors demi-goddess
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The word "guy" doesn't imply you are a young chicken so I'm not sure how that is comparable. "Creep" is probably worse, but are you actually called that?
On the college scene, if one talks to a girl and is out of shape, that person is a creep.

Forget bossy, "Creep" is a destructive term.
 

obeygiant

macrumors 601
Jan 14, 2002
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totally cool
I agree with the idea behind this - to encourage young girls to be leaders - but banning bits the language seems like a bad way to go about it.