Sheryl Sandberg Wants to Ban the Word “Bossy”By: Brian Powell - March 10, 2014
Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, recently became one of the world’s youngest female billionaires. The Harvard alum and former Google executive joined Facebook in March of 2008 and hasn’t looked back since. After joining Facebook, Sandberg wrote a novel entitled Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which quickly jumped to the #2 spot of Amazon’s best seller list in 2013 and is currently being turned into a film.
Despite her immense amount of success thus far, Sandberg is not about to start coasting. After the release of her book, Sandberg started the non-profit Leanin.org to help women pursue their ambitions. Now, Sandberg is joining forces with other powerful women and men in the United States to achieve even more progress for women in society.
The newest venture by Sandberg is an attempt to ban the word “bossy”. Sandberg, along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Marie Chávez, have joined forces to start the “Ban Bossy” campaign – an attempt to bring an end to the forestalling of the young girls’ career ambitions through the use of the word “bossy”.
The message of the campaign is simple: “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader’. Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy’.”
Statistics derived from Google’s Ngram show that in 2008 (the most recent data available), books were four times more likely to use the word “bossy” to describe females than males. Sandberg believes that this name-calling must halt in order for girls to feel comfortable and confident in pursuing their goals and ambitions: “We call girls bossy on the playground. 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 goes on to highlight the importance of such a campaign:
“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. 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.”
While many people would be quick to question the effectiveness of simply banning one word from our lexicon, Sandberg assures those people that this campaign is about much more than the banning of one single 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. We’re talking about getting rid of the negative messages that hold our daughters back.”
Image via Facebook