“When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.” ~ http://banbossy.com/
I’m a huge proponent of equal rights and fair treatment of all. Ask those who know me. Look at my body of work as a writer and a teacher. You’ll see. So when I came across an article regarding the use of the word “bossy” and wanting to BAN it from conversation, I had to dig deeper.
At first, I thought, YES! I agree with the above statement. When men speak up and take control, they’re considered leaders. Watch a woman do the same thing, and she’s considered a bitch.
Now, don’t go raking me over coals, but I must take umbrage with the above statement. Let me explain.
I agree fundamentally with the statement above, BUT it is too simple and misleading. There are layers to understand here. A bit of psychology, if you will. BOYS, GIRLS, MEN, and WOMEN CAN ALL BE CONSIDERED BOSSY. What makes BOSSINESS different from being a leader is NOT gender. It’s PERSONALITY.
A LEADER is respectful. He/She knows how to delegate, to get people to rally together and work hard by using empowering words, to give the team a sense of a common goal for the good of all, to listen, to compromise, and pitch in just as much as the rest. A BOSSY PERSON does not respect his/her team and rules like a tyrant, demands, is inflexible, doesn’t listen, and ultimately believes he/she is above the rest. These are personality issues, NOT gender issues.
So, I take issue with this new movement the Girls Scouts and Lean In is promoting. I think it’s the wrong way to approach the problem. YES, let’s teach our girls to be EFFECTIVE leaders. Kids will NOT call a girl bossy at school if she’s practicing the skills effective leaders use. It won’t even enter their minds. How do I know this? I’VE SEEN IT IN ACTION IN MY CLASSROOM! In fact, I’ve heard a team complain about a BOY who was their team leader being bossy. I asked them why they thought so. It all boiled down to his inability to communicate effectively as a leader. Another team complained about the girl in charge being bossy. SAME problem. And then there were the other four groups who had very successful experiences with their team leaders. What made THOSE teams work so well? Their leaders, both boys and girls, led with respect and used effective communication and leadership skills. Simple as that.
I implore all adults who work with our children, as I do, to stop pointing the finger at GENDER BIAS and get down to the real issue. We can teach any child, girl or boy, effective leadership skills. It will be their personalities that will ultimately dictate how successful they are at using those skills to be LEADERS rather than MR./ MISS BOSSY PANTS.