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Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, one of the wealthiest and highest-ranking female executives in Silicon Valley, jokes that she was a “bossy little girl.” Now Sandberg, aided by Beyonce and Condoleeza Rice, among others, is promoting a campaign to ban the word “bossy.” She says the word has negative connotations for young girls and discourages them from being leaders. We discuss the different interpretations of “bossy,” and other words that may negatively affect girls on the playground or women in the workplace. Have you ever been called “bossy?” What does the word “bossy” mean to you?

Guests:
Sarah Burningham, author of "Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body"
Marina Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California, one of the organizations supporting the "Ban Bossy" campaign

  • Guest

    Isn’t it just like bossy people to tell us not to say bossy? Make no mistake Ban Bossy is not a left-wing or populist campaign trying to liberate girls. They don’t want to encourage girls to question authority or rescue the poor. Quite the opposite: When they say they want to encourage “leadership”, leadership is a code word for greed, stepping on people, and having no ethics while manipulating the masses. This is a campaign to produce more corporate tools like themselves i.e. Sandberg, Beyonce etc.

    “Lean In Promotes Anti-Feminist Congresswoman”
    http://valleywag.gawker.com/lean-in-promotes-anti-feminist-congresswoman-1515120634

    “Revealed: Sheryl Sandberg’s Unpaid Intern Disgrace”
    http://valleywag.gawker.com/revealed-sheryl-sandbergs-unpaid-intern-shame-1140422267

    • thucy

      Frank,
      Thanks for the excellent links. The Valleywag articles should be required reading for any feminist prone to being duped by Sandberg’s PR.
      And I’d like to share a comment posted by one of the Valleywag regulars in response to the revelations about Sandberg:
      “Wait. Are you saying “social movements” that are cooked up by cynical PR machines to put a pretty face on soulless, corporatist, CIA- funded tools of mass surveillance aren’t sincere in their motives? You know, I just don’t know what to believe anymore.”
      I know Google, Facebook, et alia donate a ton of needed cash to KQED, but they shouldn’t get a free pass. Of course, they will, as usual, not be asked hard questions. But we should demand that these issues be adddressed.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    It’s the word BAN that bothers me as does the fact its some billionaire FB Sheryl Sandberg leading the charge . How about we discourage the use of the word?

    Why is the word ‘Bitch’ used by so many young women today? Like the book Skinny Bitch. Used to be bitch was a negative word as well.

    Back in the 80’s Act Up took the word ‘queer’ and empowered it, rather than ask that it be banned.

  • Dee Marie

    While I think it is well-intentioned, the message I am hearing from this campaign is that girls “can” be “bossy” (let’s just not use that word) and this is supposed to be a good thing? I am a Girl Scout Leader and I want to teach my scouts to work cooperatively with each other and to try to come to consensus around decisions. I want my scouts to work towards a future where workplaces and families are not run by “bosses” – male or female. Rather they are cooperative efforts between people working toward a common goal. Why not a campaign called “One girl, One voice” which is actually all anyone is entitled to which is to speak for themselves, not tell other people what to do?

    • Guest

      I guess you could say that Ban Bossy is like Girl Scout Cookies: Sugar-coated, dishonest and bad for you.

    • Sammy K

      That’s definitely an admirable idea to teach. The problem is, as a society, we don’t tend to teach boys the same idea of cooperating and coming to a consensus. Concomitantly, in the vast majority of high-tier jobs, we don’t place nearly as much value on being able to work with each other as we do on being able to to make decisions for people – that is, we encourage a style of leadership associated with being male and not a more communal, “female” one. This campaign is trying to encourage girls to hold on to that “male” style of leadership if that’s their inherent style.

      It would be even better if we also encouraged boys to try that “female” style of leadership, because it has different merits and methods but can be just as effective.

      • thucy

        How do Condi and Sheryl personify a “more communal” style of interaction? Condi is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi women and their children, and God only knows what Sheryl is up to, but dodging taxes on a billion in earnings is in no way “communal.”

        • Sammy K

          I didn’t say they did. The problem is that the women who tend to succeed and get to high positions right now tend to be the ones who adopt that “male” style of leadership. If we encouraged more diversity in leadership styles, including more of that “communal” style, the world would be a better place. We need a balance of the two styles, but it should not be a balance based on a gender divide.

          • thucy

            Then… Why even characterize a “more communal” style as inherently female? I know a lot of men who lead more communally than my women friends. The privilege of power, or maybe we inherently misunderstand leadership.

          • Sammy K

            It’s not inherently female, but it’s associated with females, and history shows us that “feminization” of jobs and characteristics leads to devaluation of those jobs and characteristics (secretary, for instance, used to be a highly sought after job for men).

            There is evidence in academic settings that women are often described with communal traits as opposed to agentic ones (i.e., those that highlight the agency of the individual to make their own decisions). There’s a great deal of research on the agency vs. communion framework and how it relates to gender and career. I don’t know if these articles are open-access, but hopefully you can take a look.

            This one talks about how agentic and communal traits relate to career success, and there’s some references in the introduction that contain more background about agency, communion, and gender.
            http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/85/4/768/

            This one looks at academic reference letters. Women are described with more communal words and traits. When you remove gender from the picture and just ask professors how hireable the applicants are based on the letters (with no direct reference to gender), those described with communal traits are ranked much lower.
            http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2009-21033-018

          • thucy

            The flaw in your reasoning is your assumption that “communal” traits are linked to gender, and not to groups who hold less power. Poor communities tend to be communal of necessity.

          • Sammy K

            That’s a very good point and it rings true, but I don’t know anything about the research supporting it.

            On the other hand, the idea that “communal” traits are also linked to gender is not simply something I reasoned out. There are many studies and a lot of evidence that show this. Some are referenced in the introductions of those two papers I posted, but I’m trying to meet a deadline and I don’t have the time to go through and summarize/link them (especially if they end up not being open access anyway). Thank you for the interesting questions and comments though.

    • Pam

      You missed the point, like so many others. I think you all want to miss the point.

  • thucy

    As a working-class feminist, I want to know:
    How will banning “bossy” make a shred of difference to a young girl whose mother is working two jobs to make up for stagnant wages and ever-rising rents, while Sheryl Sandberg floats like Marie Antoinette, coddled on a cloud of media puffery?
    Sandberg’s tone-deaf nonsense is a blatant distraction from the reality that while working women like myself struggle to keep a roof over our heads and provide for our loved ones, she is greedily evading any reasonable level of taxation on her estimated $845,000,000 post-IPO payout.
    To paraphrase Marvin Gaye, what “makes me wanna holler?” Clueless white executives like Sandberg. I beg feminists to resist Sandberg’s ploy: true feminists can and must prioritize societal needs. Housing, shelter and education needs are not being met for millions of Americans in large part BECAUSE Sandberg and Co. aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

    • Lisa Janz

      I like this comment, aside from the term “clueless white executives.” I am sure that there are plenty of clueless black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. executives. Let’s keep ethnicity/race out of it. It’s about privilege and there are plenty of people all over the world with lots of different shades of skin who are privileged and clueless – and plenty who are disenfranchised, for that matter. Otherwise, absolutely!!! If the girls who are natural leaders are not economically and educationally elevated then they can not be what Sandberg supposedly wants them to be (whatever that is exactly – not sure what she is contributing to the world that is even remotely positive).

    • Pam

      It’s truly amazing how many women are hostile to Sandberg precisely because she’s successful and rich. Wow, way to go women. Way to support successful women!

  • Bob Fry

    “Bossy” is a bit negative for either gender, implying micro-managing and a lecturing tone. It’s not restricted to women.

    On the other hand, what’s the opposite sin? I’d say it’s being super pleasant and nice to everybody, including the office idiots, and never giving honest feedback.

    • thucy

      Did you watch the video? I just did. It features Condi Rice, whom many consider guilty of war crimes. I’m… dumbfounded. A woman who should probably stand trial for war crimes is prominently featured in a video that is ostensibly about equality.
      Define shamelessly unaware. That is Sheryl Sandberg’s “campaign”.
      Lean In is not feminism. War criminal suspects are not feminists!

  • Livegreen

    “I don’t want to hear you say I’m bossy, so I’m going to ban it from the English language AND from the Dictionary!”

    There’s a big difference between leadership & being bossy. The latter doesn’t take input, doesn’t explain decisions, and acts incredulous when someone has a different thought than their own. This applies to men and women.

    • Lisa Janz

      Good point. Actually, if you think about it. This whole campaign is kind of bossy, isn’t it?

  • geraldfnord

    To me, ‘bossy’ implies the exercise of authority for the sake of gratifying the need to make other people do things, and to punish them similarly therefor under badge of office. It typically takes the form of actively _counter_-productive exercise of authority that has much more to do with the job than any sort ofneedful work.

    We do not need to use the term less for women, we need to use it much more for men.

  • Another Mike

    “Bossy” implies “I don’t care about the thoughts or feelings of anyone else.” “It is my way or the highway.” Leadership solicits others’ inputs, and considers them as part of decisionmaking.

  • Kim Jong-un

    Being called bossy doesn’t seem to have hurt Sheryl Sandberg’s career…is she not the boss?

    • Another Mike

      “Bossy” also implies the person likes to exercise authority for its own sake.

  • Sam Badger

    I think bossiness is bad for boys and girls alike. I don’t think making women into narcissistic authoritarians like the worst male CEOs only liberates one person- the bossy one. We should make men less bossy. The reason we don’t call men bossy is that people respect that kind of attitude in men and shouldn’t

  • Cal M

    Boys — & men — are ALSO given negative labels when they exhibit rude nasty anti-social behavior. Those words are CORRECTLY used when they describe behavior that masquerades as leadership but is really just rude and nasty. Should we also ban “jerk” & a lot of other words not appropriate for NPR? Or, should we instead teach BOTH our little girls & our little boys that they can be leaders without being……….well……………..I’ll let the audience fill in their favorite jerk-word-replacement here.

  • James Ivey

    Are the guests suggesting my daughter should just tolerate the bullying she experiences at the hands of her female friends? I try to teach her assertiveness by coaching her not to tolerate bullying or, as she calls it, “bossing.” So, now I’m not supposed to do harm to the feelings of female bullies by asking my own daughter to be more passive and embrace the role of victim?! What crap!

    • Tyler

      That’s almost the exact opposite of what it’s saying. It’s arguing that young girls should feel free to be assertive, and that doesn’t make them “Bossy,” which has negative connotations. By using the word “bossy,” it implies that they shouldn’t be assertive or stand up for themselves. Instead, girls should feel free to be assertive, be in charge, and not feel put down for doing so.

      • Scotney Young

        exactly! this in no way is saying that they should have free reign to put down whoever they want.

    • Pam

      Could you possibly miss the point more? I don’t think so.

  • Brigid Richards

    I’m a feminist with nearly 50 years in the workplace. I’ve experienced male bosses to be more irreverent and humorous, and less into micro-managing. Sadly, I’ve seen women treat other women, including myself, with less respect than men do.

  • Ritea Raj

    Sheryl just wants to stay relevant and argue semantics — this is such a fluff campaign and just relentless PR for Sheryl – maybe she wants to run in politics and is amassing all these sundry campaigns in her kitty..so transparent.

    • Ritea Raj

      Hyprocritical to be the “boss” and telling others to “ban bossy”..I’m disgusted by this phrase already

      • Scotney Young

        It’s not hypocritcal, she’s promoting the idea that people should be careful to assign negative labels and characteristics to women who are simply being effective and assertive leaders…something you obviously need to work on

    • Pam

      Way to completely dismiss this woman’s idea. Great way to respect women!

  • Kim Jong-un

    Can we ban “control freak”, too?

    • Lisa Janz

      Yes! And make sure that my husband is the first to know that he is not allowed to use it anymore.

  • aldoman

    Isn’t trying to ban the word “bossy” the ultimate act of being bossy?

  • Kim Jong-un

    The other “B” word: Boring…

  • kevin

    when boys have three times the suicide rate, have no support groups, have no medical Provision like Girls do… this discussion seems trivial in comparison… over last 3 decades things have been improving for girls, but no change for boys

    • Another Mike

      That would be another show. I would like to see a “Reviving Ophelia” for guys. So many young men stall out when they graduate high school or college.

  • trite

    This campaign is a colossal waste of time: just hot air. Too much banning of words and too little changing work and health policies.

    • RuffNReddy

      As well as development of teaching our boys respect for women so women and girls don’t need to part of a campaign like this.

      • Another Mike

        To get respect, you have to give respect, which bossy people do not do to their underlings.

        • RuffNReddy

          Agreed.
          And that starts early. Preschool early. When these attributes are budding. It’s also an opportunity intercept before it grows into something else as they age.
          I’m a preschool teacher, and as young as 3 there are “no girls allowed” actively culminating into cliques. It’s our job as teachers to redirect into inclusiveness. Sadly, unless everyone is on board, the behavior continues.

      • Pam

        How can we teach boys to respect women when women themselves do not? Read these comments and you will see the female hostility toward this successful woman who is trying to make a difference. I find it really sad that women themselves are so hostile to Sandberg and her ideas.

    • Ritea Raj

      I agree — just fluff.

  • Rob

    The definition of bossy is negative, and its a very different thing than leading or inspiring. I believe bossy is bad, and the acceptance of that leads to problems in life and the workplace. Leading on the other hand is a very, very different thing.

    boss·y1 [baw-see, bos-ee] Show IPA

    adjective, boss·i·er, boss·i·est.
    given to ordering people about; overly authoritative; domineering.

  • thucy

    The fact that Condi Rice, responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqi women, is featured prominently in this campaign, pretty much says it all.
    Oy effin gevalt.

  • GW

    I say we also ban ‘conspiracy theorist’, As every NPR commentator uses it as an ad hominem attack that circumvents important arguments they dont want to have. So lets have a conversation where we can all disagree on something that doesn’t even matter. Some people are bossy, some people are meek- program over. Krasny’s producers really have taken a dive in recent years..

  • LF

    When the young girl was called “Jenny the General” by her peers this was a way of them telling her to just lighten up. Maybe they do not like being told what to do. It is great that she is assertive but I have seen very assertive people monopolize the conversations and activities to the detriment of the entire organization. Lighten up Jenny and you will go far.

  • Robert Thomas

    As a life-long “individual contributor”, I’ve learned to consider that my supervisor’s job is to help me find the role most advantageous for the organization; to support me in my tasks and to get out of my way.

    I’ve had two female immediate supervisors, both excellent. I was quite as satisfied with their “bossiness”, as I have been with similar attributes of my best male supervisors. In the technology milieu, I’ve never seen effective female leadership denigrated.

    However, these personal and organizational skills are pretty distinct from the rather tediously, self-centeredly, self-importantly annoying way my older sister (and one or two other girls in my childhood cohort) often behaved when we were school kids – in a way that I consider distinct from bullying boys whose behavior one had to suffer. Mostly, young adulthood moderated these tendencies.

    As for the Girl Scouts, both of my sisters were associated with the organization; the younger of the two for more than fifty years, in the U.S. and in North Atlantic Girl Scouts in Germany and culminating with executive positions in several councils in the western states. I never saw GSUSA do anything other than promote the best quality of character and leadership in girls and their parents. I never thought of the activities or the achievements promoted by the Girl Scouts as promoting “bossiness”.

  • Ana

    To say that the campaign is misguided or unnecessary because women are having roughly the same levels of success as men is an overgeneralization. The low-income workforce is made up of of women with children. Women make up the majority of workers with the lowest paid jobs in service, care-taking, and retail. Women are not having the same level of success as men, specially, when you look at the low-income bracket.

    A campaign to raise awareness about gender, double-standards, parenting, and leadership can only help to raise self-confident, outspoken women who have a positive image of self-worth. I’d like to see this campaign reach low-income communities.

    • GW

      I love how PC this is, of course it gets played. well, a campaign about De-skilling work, and the minimum wage might do more to address poverty in this country. I know this will probably come as a shock to the Politically Correct community, but there are bossy poor people as well. And they would probably like it more if the Sandberg types just shared a little more with the people that produce, and less with the boss.

  • Bob Iwersen

    I am a man and surprised to hear that generally men think this is a good characteristic. I don’t eguate leadership with being bossy – quite the opposite. Bossy is negative and should be.

    Bob Iwersen

  • Bonnie Rose

    The most important part of this conversation is that we’re having it. Whether or not it’s possible to ban the word “bossy” it is possible to extinguish the notion that women can’t be bosses. We’re not there yet. Hooray for this national conversation!

  • Trebbie Thomas

    Women’s reaction to this makes exactly the point-How many women right now are taking exception with this campaign? Why- because Sheryl is being bossy!! The world doesn’t want women telling them what to do!! Here is a person wanting to help other girls and she is getting her butt kicked for it by other women. Such a shame. There is a saying- women are like crabs- you put one crab in a box and you have to put a lid on that box because the crab will get out. If you add more crabs to the box you don’t need a lid because when one crab tries to get out all the other crabs will pull it back down. All these other women are shameing Sheryl and trying to keep her in the box. Why not be grateful and try to understand and support her in helping young girls and work together instead of saying how you would do it the right way without pissing men off. Crabs in a box!!

    • Ritea Raj

      Are you for real? You seem terribly naive making this comment..

    • SJ

      Absolutely! I agree with you!

    • Lisa Janz

      I find comparing women to crabs more insulting then taking issue with Sandberg.

      • Another Mike

        The crabs-in-a-bucket analogy — when one leader tries to emerge, the rest pull it back down out of jealousy — has been applied to many groups, not just women.

    • suz

      Are you for real? I don’t think any of us are trying to pull Sheryl back into the box. We just don’t want to be defined by her and we don’t agree with her values. Some of us would prefer to construct a different definition of “leadership” than one traditionally characterized by male bullying, which by the way is equally repugnant.

      The one thing I would agree on is that we should call boys out on their bossiness early on and stress the power of community.

  • my first nickname was ‘Sister Mary Catherine’:>) I have been called pushy,bossy,bitchy,mean,arrogant,dominator and ‘on a power trip’. Are we going to BAN all these words? I would rather see us offer a campaign in which we raise people’s awareness about the possible impact of such words as bossy and pushy, teach people where these words/labels come from–what they mean to imply, and then reframe. We need to encourage the girls by helping them deal with the labels. I agree with the doctor that it’s much better to help future women leaders learn how to deal with negative responses than try to ban words.

  • victoria s.

    Let’s not take it too far… we all know that girls can just be plain ‘ole mean! We are focused on the wrong thing. How about teaching children (girls and boys) to “Treat people the way we all want to be treated.” How about that?

    • Another Mike

      I remember my sister’s set ostracizing one of their peers, saying she had “Smith germs.”

  • SJ

    This is so typical.
    I’m sure if some famous MAN had started this ban bossy campaign, it would be received very differently and more positively than it is.
    Kudos to Sheryl for starting this discussion.

    • thucy

      Actually, no. If a man who fit Sandberg’s credentials started the exact same campaign, he would rightly have been laughed out of town. This is “white lady feminism” at its worst, and Sandberg is being given far more leeway than anyone should, largely because she is a (very wealthy) woman.

      • Lisa Janz

        I find this comment to be racist. There are plenty of stereotypes related to skin colour and many of them have some truth, but unless you think it is alright to bring up those aimed at non-white people than you shouldn’t use colour-based stereotypes. It is offensive.

        • thucy

          I respectfully disagree. The term “white lady feminism” may strike you as racist, but it effectively describes much of the post-suffragette, 1970’s and onward brand of feminism that moved primarily to further the careerism of white females, while black and latina females’ far more urgent needs were utterly ignored. Sandberg is in many ways the personification of this.

          On the opposite end of the spectrum is best-selling author and civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander, whom I believe has fulfilled feminist ideals while fighting for the rights of vulnerable black males.

          You may well disagree, of course.

          • Lisa Janz

            The fact that you cast such a wide net with the phrase “black and latina females’ far more urgent needs” clearly exemplifies your inherently racist mindset and worldview. Believe it or not, there are huge numbers of poor working moms who are white. Many are uneducated, disenfranchised and have suffered extraordinary systematic discrimination because of their martial status and socio-economic condition. They are nothing like Sandberg and their main concern is figuring out how to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads, not becoming CEOs. Also, poor white folks are not all inbred or drug addicts, in case you were wondering. If you think that being a white woman is about careerism, then you, sadly, are very ignorant about this country. I would argue that young MIDDLE CLASS black and hispanic women are at least as, if not more focused on careerism in this day in age than many MIDDLE CLASS white women (a growing subsection of whom are lately more interested in staying home and raising a family – which is also totally fine). The real issue is socio-economic status or class. Privileged members of our society (of all skin colours) have found their best weapon for the continued oppression of the poor – pit them against each other by making it all about race. I grew up in a rural area surrounded by poor people fighting each other – white, black, and Native – because they believed that they had to fight each other rather than help each other, and that there was more difference between them than there was between them and the ones in charge. Race was once absolutely the poignant issue you perceive it to be, but now the only people who are unwilling to let it die are on all sides of the ethnic/racial divide are who maintain these wrongful stereotypes. I absolutely agree that there are different pressing issues for different ethnic communities, but all poor people have pressing issues and needs and putting one person’s above the other’s because of race is wrong. Sadly, Forum continues to promote this type of stereotype through many of its dialogues.

          • thucy

            ” Also, poor white folks are not all inbred or drug addicts, in case you were wondering”

            It seems to me that you’re assuming I hold positions that I neither expressed, nor hold.

            I take your point that there are many disenfranchised whites. But for you to disregard the gross disparities between how much more fairly whites are treated when compared to blacks and Latinas is, in light of statistics, very, very wishful thinking.

          • Lisa Janz

            If you think that I disregard “the gross disparities between how much more fairly whites are treated when compared to blacks and Latinas” then you perhaps assume that I hold positions that I did not express. I do not know if there are any statistics about how poor white people are treated by any type of person at a higher socio-economic status or of a similar socio-economic status but different ethnicity. It would be an interesting study, but is another entirely different topic of conversation (which I would enjoy taking on in a different forum). Either way, the fact that you are diverting the conversation from the point I made that all white people do not fit into the convenient stereotype you have placed them in is telling. Your two comments were racist.

          • thucy

            I hardly disagree with you that white people do not fit into a neat stereotype. But I stand by the accuracy of the term “white lady feminism”. It may be snarky, but it also accurately describes a great deal of the past five decades of feminist preaching, most of it conducted by white women. To their credit, some of those white feminists (Steinem comes to mind) have been spot-on in recognizing the limitations of a feminism guided largely by white women.

  • I think Cheryl Sandberg’s book and now this her latest campaign are both really SILLY!
    Ms. Sandberg has NO IDEA what it is like to be a ‘normal female business professional, mother, student etc. Ms. Sandberg was born w/ of a wealthy family and was given all the very best advantages. Now, she is the richest woman in Silicon Valley, married and mother. You can bet she has a maid, nanny and other hired help to assist her in her long work hours.
    I am a self employed mother and I snicker at her and her unrealistic ‘Lean In’ spin. Easy for her to say. Wonder how she would have done without her family money to pave her way to success?

    • Pam

      Nothing like resenting a successful woman. What a surprise.

      • You mis understand. It is easy for someone that was born with every advantage to be successful. It is much more admirable to be a woman that has struggled to ‘get there’ on her own without the advantages that Ms. Sandberg has had. I applaud the latter not the former.

        • Pam

          You miss the point. The point is that this has nothing to do with Sheryl Sandberg herself, what she does, what she earns, how she got there. It only has to do with her point that girls are called ”bossy” as a way to discourage them from being assertive, and that boys are not discouraged in that way.
          The hostility toward her in these comments says to me that her point is right: both men and women resent a woman who is strong, successful, assertive. Truly a shame.

  • Alarming to hear a psychologist argue the need for a thicker skin. Along those enlightened lines it might be useful to encourage bullying into order to prepare children for the hard cold world. Maybe just the right amount of domestic violence could help to keep women on their toes and prepared for the vicissitudes of world

  • victoria s.

    BTW, clearly the folks that put this campaign together, have NOT listened to Beyonce’s music. Really? She is definitely not the face of this message you are attempting to communicate. Far from it!

  • Another Mike

    “Bossy” never asks, “And what do you think we should do?”

  • Bo Smith

    This is a ridiculous topic. There are many other ways that are real to encourage leadership

    • erictremont

      I agree, devoting an hour to this topic is not a good use of KQED’s time. Not sure I understand why Sheryl Sandberg seems hell-bent on encouraging girls and young woment to seek careers in large corporations, there would seem to be better avenues for personal fulfillment for the vast majority of women who aren’t going to become billionaire executives no matter how much they “lean in.”

    • Pam

      Way to put down a woman’s ideas and give them no respect whatsoever. What a surprise that everyone here thinks this is just ”stupid” ”fluff” ”ridiculous.” Really Bo, this idea has absolutely NO validity at all? Really?

  • lady c

    I don’t think anyone, child or adult, male or female, should be given
    the OK to be “bossy,” especially as a leader. Strong. compassionate,
    kind, understanding, reflective, informed. These all make good leaders.
    Bossy bosses? Bossy leaders? This results in more harm than good; to
    me. The wrong teaching moment.

    • RuffNReddy

      … communicative, community oriented, receptive… a leader. A voice for those who lack one. 🙂

  • Alarming to hear a psychologist argue the need for a thicker skin. Along those enlightened lines it might be useful to encourage bullying into order to prepare children for the hard cold world. Maybe just the right amount of domestic violence could help to keep women on their toes and prepared for the vicissitudes of the world

    • Lisa Janz

      That’s a ridiculous and insulting comparison. Calling someone bossy is not anything close to domestic violence, nor is it bullying.

  • Bo Smith

    any possibilty we can end this program early and move on to something else?

  • Jay Shafer

    Authenticity. The word shares its roots with similar ones like “author”, “autograph”, “authority” and “authorize” – all of which refer back to the concept of self (see also: originator, creator, instigator, founder and… more literally, “one who causes to grow”). In the most literal sense, to author a work is to reveal one’s truest self; and to exercise authority is to reveal the totality of oneself and one’s convictions as the means of inspiring others to do the same. People’s lives and society, at large, are changed duly.

    Authority (in it’s purest form) has everything to do with making oneself vulnerable and nothing to do with making others feel that way. It entails being authentic, while abuses of authority invariably involve impersonation.

  • Scotney Young

    This isn’t an issue of the “word police”, it’s a campaign to make people realize and think about why people are so quick to assign negative attributes to women and girls who are assertive and direct verses to boys and men. It’s in no way saying that men are in some way to blame, it’s in no way saying that girls who are over assertive, or bullies, should go unchecked, it’s simply a way to bring attention to this issue that girls are lacking in leadership in the areas that impact our society and our economy. It’s not about the word, it’s about promoting good leadership skills to get women involved where we are missing. Which is much needed.

    • Sammy K

      Yes, this is the real meaning of the campaign. I’m reading all these comments about bossy is in fact a bad thing and we shouldn’t be encouraging our girls to be bossy, when that’s not the point. It’s about seeing how girls and boys are treated differently when they express the same characteristics or behave in similar ways. It’s about how this disproportionate discouragement of assertiveness in girls through the use of words like “bossy” can lead to the lack of females in leadership positions.

  • Angela

    The thing that is missing from all anti bullining campaigns in general is teaching kids that words only hurt if you let them. When my 3rd daughter has been called bossy in the past we discussed her reaction to it. Did she let that word hurt? Did she give power to the kid who called her bossy by letting that word hurt? We can’t control the actions of other people. We can only control the way we react to them. That 1/3 of girls who back off when called bossy could benefit from knowing that words only hurt if you let them.
    Angela

  • Greenman

    I find th attacks on Ms. Sandberg fascinating. I wonder if callers would be so dismissive of this campaign if Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton were proposing it.

    Words have power and we need to teach our children that. I agree we shouldn’t c oddle our kids but where do we draw the line? I wouldn’t want it acceptable to call my child a b****, a n*****, or a f***** or do you think me a coddler?

    • Lisa Janz

      Yup. Absolutely. But, then again, neither of those women probably would propose it. Because they have more important things to do. The term bossy is completely different than the terms you mention. It is a light, chiding term that is meant to draw a behavioural boundary – not a harsh, abusive term. All these women who complain about having been called bossy need to re-examine their behaviour and keep the things they can truly say are positive and discard the things that are negative rather than crying foul and going on and on about how hard it is for them. Maybe they are disrespectful and make things hard on other people. Or maybe they are truly being called out for something that they are justified in doing by someone who is bitter or jealous of their authority. Either way, if we just sit there and justify our behaviour, or teach our children to do this, then we are not doing our jobs as adult role models.

  • Chi

    I have a 2nd grader who has a classmate who’s called bossy by the other kids. It’s because she would decide who needs to be excluded from games, which is more of bullying than being bossy.The word bossy is vague for young kids and should not be treated as a mandate to be a good leader. I have been in a leadership position in my company and you don’t need to be “bossy” to be an effective leader. Parents should be very careful in “encouraging bossiness” and look at what the child did. There is a thin line between being bossy and being a bully for young kids

    • RuffNReddy

      Absolutely! As a preschool teacher, it’s my job to recognize that these behaviors can either be encouraged or discouraged early, as their personalities are developing. It’s across the board for boys and girls. Unfortunately, the tag “boys will be boys” has been the free card that lets bully/bossy behavior slide. Girls develop faster than boys on a whole so the grasp of being in control is already heightened by mental development and a greater understanding of consequences. The hardest part is that unless parents, teachers and family members are on the same page, these budding behaviors will continue, even morph.

  • Lisa Janz

    The woman who refused to parent “bossiness” out of her child needs to
    find out from the teacher precisely why this label is being applied.
    Some parents seem to think that their children are blameless. When my 6
    year old daughter is overly controlling of her 2 year old sister,
    trying to force her to do things that she doesn’t want to and yelling at
    her for doing something “wrong,” then I point out to her that she is
    being bossy and that it is okay to organize games, but that she needs to
    be respectful of the people she is playing with. Furthermore, not
    every person needs to a leader. For some people it is too stressful and
    not even remotely rewarding or enjoyable. Why do we need to tell our
    children that there is something wrong with this. What are we going to
    do in a country full of self-entitled leaders? Fall apart. Sandberg
    may be a highly capable woman with strong leadership abilities, but she
    is not someone I would want my daughters to emulate. Neither Beyonce or
    Rice for that matter. If the girl scouts leader is concerned about the
    more passive children, maybe she should worry about the bossy girls
    effecting their self-esteem by controlling, dominating, and
    disrespecting them, rather than worrying about helping those more
    passive children become leaders. Maybe they don’t want to be leaders.
    Maybe they just want to be respected for what they are. From an
    “A-personality” woman with two like daughters.

    • RuffNReddy

      Well said.

    • thucy

      So well stated. From a B-personality, I say Thank you.

    • suz

      Thank you for this Lisa! I heard that woman say that she would not “parent this out of my child” and I thought, gee thanks for that, let’s miss the point and let your kid continue to behave in a way that doesn’t learn consideration for others. I’ve seen way too many parents excuse behavior that isn’t burgeoning leadership but will actually work against these kids as they grow. I was appalled and astounded that the guests on the show applauded this woman for this!

      Leadership is quite distinct from “bossiness.” It involves listening, respect for others’ opinions, and a certain amount of humility.

    • btcbtc

      Amen! All this talk of ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ is giving me a headache !
      In America, it seems like there is a tendency to quickly come up with some sort of ideal and then start these pointless (in my mind) conversations about how to get to that ! People are/will be different. Some girls need to lean in and some boys probably need to lean back a little bit !

    • Scotney Young

      You people are completely missing the point. What the campaign, and that caller were saying was not in anyway that we should promote our children to be self-entitled and over-bearing leaders. They are in no way saying that children who are “bossy” in the negative way should be in anyway rewarded. They are saying that we as a society are quick to assign assertive behavior in girls with a negative label and that we should think about why we assume that a girl or woman who is direct and instructive is “bossy” or “bitchy” or “annoying” or any other pick of attributes with negative connotations, is it because they are truly being over-bearing and uncaring about others around them, or is it just because we are quick to asssume that a female giving directions is not a positive way for them to behave. The caller wasn’t saying that her child is right to be “bossy” she was saying that maybe her teacher was wrong to call her that, she was wondering what behavior exactly merited this label and is it actual a bad behavior. You all are getting hung on the fact that the word is negative for a reason when the campaign is trying to point out that maybe it’s being used when it’s undeserved. The representative from the campaign even said that program promotes leadership training and that includes how to be assertive in a positive way, not just train girls to be “bossy”.

  • Scotney Young

    As for boys being left out, yes, there are a lot of issues that impact boys. Attacking causes that specifically focus on girls, is not the way to support them. People find issues that negatively impact women and girls and make efforts to change that, that doesn’t mean that they are against boys and men. Where are the actions, campaigns, and organizations to help boys?? So far It’s just people pointing at the momentum of the feminist movement and complaining that they’re left out when those people aren’t their enemies they simply stood up and did something to fix a problem they saw. If want action, take action, don’t make enemies that aren’t there.

    • Another Mike

      The idea that the exact same behavior called “bossiness” in a girl is praiseworthy assertiveness in a boy implies that boys are better off than girls.

      • Scotney Young

        When it comes to leadership, boys are statistically and absolutely in a better off place than girls. The idea is that girls are quickly labeled negatively for SOME behaviors that would be considered assertive in boys, but the point is that these behaviors in girls are negatively labeled, period. The comparison is not so much the point because the fact is that these labels do a lot to impact the way girls view positions of leadership. The focus of th campaign is to help girls become more effective leaders, which we are missing. What I’m saying is that this campaign is not in any way blaming boys or men for this, they are not saying that boys are not impacted by negative labels of all kinds and they are not saying that boys do not need support in leadership training, all of these are things people are incorrectly assuming and assigning because criticism is a part of any progress but if there was a program with similar goals designed to focus on boys, I highly doubt Ban Bossy would try to villify or discredit it because, as the representative said on the show, they would be working for a similar cause, not a contradictory one

  • Unbelievable that this is EVEN being discussed. How about “Brat”, “Pushy”, “Know-it-all”–This is a Seinfeld episode, right?

  • Michael Flanery

    Oh no! Bossy?!?! How HORRIBLE!!!
    Please! This is such a first world problem. Even worse, it’s taking the easily-offended mentality to a whole new level.
    You’re not 4. You’re also not as perfect as your parents always told you. It’s time to grow up and get a thicker skin.

    Also, Michael Krasny, this is the second of your shows recently that has attempted to seriously address a non-problem and that I’ve had to TURN OFF!!!

    • Pam

      Way to give this woman’s ideas respect MF. Excellent. Wow, maybe the problem that girls have been told not be assertive forever isn’t one of your problems. So let’s just disrespect this as much as possible!!

  • In response to Lisa Janz’s comment that mine was ‘ridiculous and insulting.’ The point I am making is that the goal of a ‘thicker skin’–especially for children, is dangerous and is based on fallacious reasoning. Toughness and resilience do not result from shielding yourself from feeling. Toughness and resilience result from turning toward feeling and having the courage to experience fear, hurt, shame and whatever else arrives without compromise. I think the core of the disagreement over the term ‘bossy’ is that many young women experience that label as shaming and, because shame often paralyzes, feel unable to defend themselves. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are unable to defend themselves but they do feel unable and may need support of some kind to find the power to do so.
    I know more parents then I care to count who feel deep regret over parenting decisions they made intended to toughen up their kids or give them a thicker skin. Those kind of decisions often lead to both subtle and overt trauma that require professional attention later in life. I am not taking a position about whether or not use of the word bossy should be in any way restricted or pathologized, although I would have to give it a lot of thought before I could really line up behind the idea of banning words (other then the ‘fire’ in the crowded theatre type), but I am extremely wary of the idea of toughening up our children–especially coming from a healthcare professional.
    The rationale used to support toughening kids up through use of the term bossy is exactly the same rationale I have way too often heard in the past, mostly pre-Columbine, that a scuffle or two at school with the bone headed bully is good for your kid and will help him learn to defend himself. The tragic reality is that while the occasional child may find that Hollywood moment and summon the strength to defend him or herself, the majority are going to feel victimized, oppressed and depressed. And the horrific truth is that, from time to time, those feeling victimized and oppressed will decide, like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, that no bully is tough enough to stop a bullet; no matter how thick his skin.
    Pulling in the idea of domestic violence, though it was clearly a detour into the absurd and could certainly be characterized as provocative or even attention seeking, does lean into the same rationale–verbal, or in this case physical, abuse helps the victim of said abuse to toughen up and be better prepared to face the world.
    Personally I would mourn a world that chose to value a thick skin over the delicious and sometimes agonizingly painful life of sensation. The absence of sensation is emotional death. The world I envision us moving toward is filled with courageous people willing to feel through whatever crosses their path, both the agony and the ecstasy. In that kind of world individuals develop the emotional muscularity, the power, to handle anything with a minimum of defensive avoidance. I fear, and remember, a brutish world ruled by the cruel in which the one that feels the least wins.

  • Laurie Bak

    Pretty silly. I wish you’d asked Tina Fey (Bossy Pants) what she thinks about this. More self esteem, please. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” was a VERY early lesson in my life.

  • Pam

    Mr. Krasny, I’m really disappointed that you would discuss this topic with one woman for the idea and two women against. Why do that? This idea has plenty of validity, so why stack the deck against it in the first place? Really disappointing.
    And your two anti guests had nothing but specious arguments that basically missed the point. Girls HAVE been told forever, through words like bossy, that they shouldn’t be assertive. So it IS a problem. And I for one applaud Ms. Sandberg and her efforts!!

  • Pam

    Mr. Krasny, are you unaware of the campaign to ban the word ”retarded?” It’s a recent campaign started by a father whose son has Down Syndrome. I don’t hear the same dismissing of his campaign. Have you read the comments on this board? They are overwhelmingly negative, and frankly dismissive and disrespectful.
    Somehow the idea to ban the word ”retarded” has SO much more validity than banning the word ”bossy?” Somehow a man’s idea is taken so much more seriously than a woman’s. Sad.

  • Citations? Please post info for the “studies show…” and “research shows…” claims.

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