As a teenage girl with hopes and dreams of becoming a successful and independent woman, I am exhausted of Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, telling me how to succeed. With her book Lean In and now, her new campaign, Ban Bossy, it seems like Sandberg is nothing more than a bossy woman herself.
In case you have not heard, Sandberg has recently launched a new campaign with Girl Scouts of America in an effort to ban the word “bossy” once and for all. The campaign argues that the word undermines girls and keeps them from becoming the leaders that the world needs. She’s even enlisted a group of female icons like Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice and Beyoncé to squash the demeaning word from common use.
However, the problem with the Ban Bossy project is that it creates a false sense of equality and hypersensitivity.
First of all, women are not the only people discouraged from leading. Men can also be accused of being overly assertive, aggressive, and sometimes even worse; all words that essentially mean the same thing as bossy.
Ban Bossy also tells young girls that they should be offended when people call them bossy. In her op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Sandberg describes an experience she had in middle school when her teacher told her “Nobody likes a bossy girl.” Being called “bossy” did not seem to affect Sandberg that much, seeing that she is now a billionaire, so why should it affect anyone else?
More importantly, Sandberg seems to be intertwining the words “bossy” and “leadership.” To be a good leader means that someone is confident, respectable, and empowering, not someone who is too aggressive and overbearing. Instead of abolishing the word “bossy” people should inspire girls to be leaders with positive qualities.
Banning the word is telling girls that they should be offended by it. Rather, tell girls to ignore it. Sandberg says that girls are less likely to lead as middle-schoolers than boys. She should target these girls and give them confidence to want a make a change in the world. No leader becomes go to where they are today without someone telling them they were not perfect.