I have only been referred to as “the other B-word” a couple of times, but in those few instances I could easily feel the negativity that the one single word held. It is a word that females dread to be called, especially those females of a younger age. Bossy is defined as describing someone who is domineering or too authoritative, often involving a female subject. Looking at different dictionary and references of the word, most of the example sentences use a female as that someone. In fact, Ngram found that in 2008 the word appeared in books four times more often describing females than males, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It appears that this single word can have quite an affect on how young women perceive themselves and in turn act. In fact, leadership roles and qualities seem to be more heavily pushed on males than females. The National Longitudinal Adolescent Health found that parents of seventh-graders stressed the importance of leadership to their sons more than for daughters. Perhaps even more significant was the findings of a the American Association of University Women which found that sixth- and seventh-grade boys are more likely to value competence and independence higher while females of that age group value being popular and well-liked as more important. Apparently for many females, taking on leadership roles means taking the risk of being called bossy and being disliked. While women may now have a lot of the same opportunities as men, it seems that the expectation of men being more assertive and opinionated and females to be more compassionate and understanding is still a part of gender stereotypes.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez have decided to do something about this stigma of being bossy. With the help of stars like Jennifer Garner and Beyonce, these female leaders have started the Ban Bossy campaign. This campaign, run through the Girl Scouts of America, encourages young women to take the pledge on Banbossy.com and “take the lead”. The initiative has been created in hopes to give women a new perspective on what it means to be a leader, hopefully eradicating the fear of being stigmatized for taking the lead as a female. Having the help of successful powerful women like Beyonce should hopefully show how good being a leader is. As Ms. Carter pointed out in the end of the Ban Bossy video, “I’m not bossy. I am the boss.”
What do you think? Can we get rid of the word bossy? Are you offended by the word?