In fact, there are many better, more accurate ways to describe women and girls than “bossy,” according to a recent BlogHer post by Julie Ross Godar. This is a reaction to Sheryl Sandberg’s current campaign to get people to stop using the word bossy when describing females. Actually, it reflects the speaker’s lack of vocabulary even more than it casts a shadow on the girl being described.
Better, More Accurate Words than Bossy
The words bossy is typically used as an insult to get girls and women to shut up and sit down. Women were traditionally supposed to be nurturing and supportive and to help the group. They were not expected to direct activities and lead the group. So “bossy” was a way to cast a woman as unfeminine and unnatural. Horrors!
Now that women are moving up through the ranks in unprecedented numbers, isn’t it time to help women see the upside of those character traits? What do you think of this list of words? Can you use them to describe a girl today?
- Has a clear vision
- Great organizational skills
- Eager to share opinions and ideas
Why Banning “Bossy” Matters
Calling someone bossy, especially a young person who is just developing an idea of who she is, can dampen her sense of self. It can cause her to pull her hand back and not reach as high, bite her tongue, try to fit in. We all want to be liked. As the #banbossy campaign points out, girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem “bossy.”
Is She Really a Pain in the A**?
Godar points out that a woman may actually engage in a variety of bad behaviors at work. Maybe a woman is not a consensus builder, or needs to work on empathy. Does she need some lessons in diplomacy? Does she not understand the importance of leading by example? Does she always insist on having her own way?
“I don’t think anyone’s trying to ignore bad behavior,” by banning use of the word bossy, Godar says. So it’s a good thing we’ve got other words for that kind of bossy, too, she notes. How about these more accurate descriptors?
- Needs to work on her listening skills
- Hardly an inspirational leader
- An abusive boss
- She’s an a**hole
There’s a lot of power in words, and it’s just not true that sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you. Let’s pay attention and use words that nurture and encourage our women and girls. And when we see behavior that needs correcting, lests use words that describe accurately the behaviors they need to improve.
Check out this wonderful series of #banbossy posters.