There are certain sayings that conjure up memories from my childhood and one favorite statement in my house was “You’re not the boss of me”!
Growing up with three brothers and one sister in a household without a defined leader meant that someone was always trying to boss you around. No need to worry – we all learned very quickly how to stand up for yourself and navigate the strong personalities that were clearly evident in my home.However, the negative connotation of the word “bossy” is often associated with young females.
Three powerful and influential women have launched a public campaign to ban the word bossy and encourage girls to speak up. Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook COO and author of the best seller Lean In, Condoleezza Rice, professor at Stanford Graduate School and past Secretary of State, and Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA have joined together to encourage female leadership.
There are still deep-rooted stereotypes about gender with the expectation that boys should be assertive, confident and opinionated while girls should be kind, quiet and compassionate. These expectations have consequences and by middle school girls are less interested in leading and more interested in being well-liked. The thought of being “bossy” deters girls from stepping up and leading. However, in the ever changing world, women are necessary for us to have the greatest future. And since women are 50% of the population, they should eventually have 50% of the leadership positions.
Our three daughters attended an all-girls high school – Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA) in Washington Township, NJ – where leadership is necessary and expected in order to have a successful school. All are encouraged to lead from the classroom to student government, clubs and the athletic fields. However, the same opportunities may be more difficult in a co-ed high school with more boys taking on these roles. Try to encourage all to assume roles of leadership for everyone’s benefit.
Parents – Let’s make certain that the pathways for leadership are opened to all of our children, both the boys and the girls.
You can learn more about this campaign at banbossy.com. The site is for girls, teachers and parents.
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