Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is on a mission! Following last year’s release of her controversial book “Lean In”, this month she launched a campaign to “Ban bossy. Encourage girls to lead.” An effort that will, hopefully, create more female leaders.
Sandberg says that as a little girl she was called bossy, obviously, she was able to rise above the name-calling, but too many girls do not. In an interview on ABC News, Sandberg understands that while it may not be possible to do away with “bossy”, it’s more about creating opportunity; she says, ”We are not just talking about getting rid of a word…We’re talking about getting rid of the negative messages that hold our daughters back.” Sandberg’s organization Leanin.org has joined with a group of heavy weight organizations, namely, Girls Scouts USA, AARP, Teach for American, and others, to provide leadership stories, motivation and tips to young women, their parents, and educators, to encourage girls and young women to lead and, also, to help society do away with the negative characterization of girls who display leadership traits.
Definitely, there is a need. Boys who display certain traits of being aggressive, extroverted, or even, confident, are considered future leaders, while girls and young women are called “bossy”, encouraged to be more “ladylike”, and are praised for being a “girly-girl”. And, in many communities, these “leadership” traits in girls are not just undesirable…they are not tolerated. This could be part of the reason why, despite our degrees, in 2012 women represented 67% of college degrees, this has not resulted in much gain in the business world. Women hold just 23 Fortune 500 CEO’s positions, and just 1 in 3 American business owners are women (see the infographic by Sage.)
To further promote the cause, Sandberg appears in a public service announcement video with a powerhouse of celebrity women from business, politics and the arts, including Girl Scouts CEO Anna Marie Chavez, Condoleeza Rice, Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Diane von Furstenberg, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, among others, who state that “by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership than boys. And that’s because they worry about bossy.” The video ends with Beyoncé (no last name needed), intoning confidently, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”
It may take years to know if Sandberg’s campaign creates more female leaders in business or changes the way we, as a society treat our girls, but if just a few are encouraged to lead, go after their dreams and fly…it’s definitely worth the effort!
Regina Essel is a Life-Empowerment Coach, Business Specialist; Founder/Administrator of the Savvy Entrepreneur Women’s Network (SEWN), www.savvyentrepreneurwn.com; an online Social/Business Network for women. She is passionate about helping women succeed in both their professional and personal lives. Connect on Social Media: facebook.com/savvyewn, twitter.com/savvyewn, linkedin.com/in/reginaessel