As a young girl, Sheryl Sandberg was called “bossy” — which didn’t exactly hold back the Facebook COO and self-made billionaire too much. Still, to her, it was an insidious term designed largely to undercut women’s voices. Applied largely to ambitious women — men would be called confident — she thinks the word bossy implies that women have to be more amenable to succeed. Then, when she heard her son call his sister bossy, Sandberg said she realized the issue was bigger than she could tackle alone.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of her career advice book, “Lean In,” Sandberg’s nonprofit LeanIn.org and the Girl Scouts are launching “Ban Bossy,” a campaign to eliminate the word altogether.
There’s a pledge, whereby hitting a red “I will Ban Bossy” button adds a link to your social media of choice. There are tips sites for Girls, Parents, Teachers and Managers. And, rolling out the celebs, the Ban Bossy PSA features Beyoncé, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Garner and Condoleezza Rice, among others, in a lively take on the subject.
“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss,” declares Beyoncé. She’s got that right.
And, of course, because she is also the boss, there is a Sandberg op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that compares bossy to the other B-word.
Whether or not the word bossy disappears, it could with Sandberg pushing — there is no question the phrase “lean in” that she coined is now a pretty impactful meme.
Here’s the PSA:
And, during her talk at the Makers Conference for exceptionally powerful women last month, Sandberg spoke about why, when describing men and women, people use different words for the same behavior. She referenced this Pantene ad: