Why You Should Ban Bossy

Folks, today’s the one year anniversary of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, LeanIn.Org. For the anniversary, the Girl Scouts are launching a public service campaign to Ban Bossy, an effort to encourage all girls to lead.


Over the past twenty-eight years I’ve been quietly supporting women’s groups, just proceeding on what feels like the right thing to do. And this campaign seems like the real deal.

Sheryl Sandberg explained the campaign:

“When little boys lead, we call them ‘leaders.’ But when little girls lead, they risk being labeled ‘bossy.’  These negative messages have a real impact; by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys – a trend that continues into adulthood.

Ban Bossy aims to change this by generating the awareness we need to stop discouraging – and start encouraging – girls to lead.  Please join us at BanBossy.com.”

As a nerd who also has (insert some large number) nieces it’s real important that young girls are encouraged to take on roles of leadership. It’s really all about fairness. Treat people like you want to be treated. Personally, I feel that life should be fair, that everyone gets a chance to be heard, and maybe to help run things.

Sure, life isn’t fair, but that won’t slow me down. A nerd’s gotta do what a nerd’s gotta do.

Here are some ways you can help support the Ban Bossy campaign:

    • Pledge to Ban Bossy by hitting red “I will Ban Bossy” button on the homepage.
    • Use the hashtag, #banbossy, to talk about the campaign on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Follow @LeanInOrg and @GirlScouts for more info. 
    • Check out these tips – just a few everyday things we can do to support women and girl’s leadership.
    • Share the Ban Bossy PSA: 

As Charles Malik said, “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”

6 thoughts on “Why You Should Ban Bossy

  1. I understand (and completely appreciate) the sentiment behind it – and agree that a boy or a man exhibiting the same behavior would not be called bossy. But I find it hard to get behind any effort that urges banning (even in a not-quite-literal sense) a word.


  2. I have to say I agree with Amy.

    To me, the real problem is not with the word bossy (which, if “banned”, I’m sure would just be replaced with another label equally negative), but with the fact that “by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys”, which I can see being partially due to the negative reaction when a girl expresses any sign of leadership.

    A better campaign would be one that encouraged girls to learn how to 1) be kind and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (or “as they would like to have done unto them”); and 2) ignore any criticism that comes from speaking up, being direct, and wanting to lead, when you’re following rule #1.

    I don’t remember being called bossy as a child, but I do remember hearing, when I was in electrical engineering school, jokes about how I was there to find a successful husband, and how I shouldn’t apply to an internship in an electrical power company, but rather find a place that was “more appropriate for girls”. I entirely ignored these comments and went on to beat the male competition when I applied to one of the rare engineer positions in my city after graduation.


  3. Im not sure where the idea originated that ‘bossy’ is a negative terms specific for women. Ive known and worked for many male ‘leaders’ who have been plenty ‘bossy’ and called such or worse very regularly.

    Perhaps it is leadership style that needs attention (on both sides of the gender aisle), not the sex stereotype. Lots of people, both men and women become leaders without realizing how to handle the position in a manner that encourages respect and dedication rather than derision for acting ‘bossy’.

    Maybe that would be a better goal for the girl scouts to achieve… more active leadership training? Then the word would simply disappear.

    It seems to me to cry about being called names only reduces your own self worth.


  4. Both young women and men should be encouraged to speak up, do what is right and be fair. Anyone being called names for doing so is not OK. However, banning a word … this detracts from the issue at hand and doesn’t really do much to address the problem.


  5. I have been referred to as bossy pretty much my whole life. My motto is, “if nobody is in change, I am.” So if the campaign is to literally ban the word or the eliminate the negative connotation behind it, I am all for it. The target audience for the campaign are are at very vulnerable stage of their lives where names/labels really do matter.


  6. Wow! Really people? The point isn’t to ban the word, it’s to get people to think about the ways in which they inadvertently discourage girls from being leaders. It’s a very clever and catchy way to get people to THINK about what they say to girls at a very vulnerable stage in their life.


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