Celebrate “bossy” girls

“Bossy” girls are actually confident, capable, and ambitious.

Photo  by Alvesgaspar /  CC BY

Photo by Alvesgaspar / CC BY

Every day, girls in our country are being labeled “bossy” for showing promising leadership traits. A little girl who takes initiative and asserts herself is often told to sit down and listen. A little boy who takes initiative and asserts himself is, more often than not, praised for his leadership.

This silencing doesn’t stop when girls become women.

According to the 2016 Women in the Workplace study, conducted by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company, women are negotiating just as much as men are. But we are being shut down when we do:

“Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are ‘bossy,’ ‘too aggressive,’ or ‘intimidating.’”

“Bossy” is being used as a tool to silence assertive women who ask for what they deserve.

Movements like the #banbossy campaign are doing amazing work to stop this nonsense. And we agree with them about the harm done by the word “bossy”. But we also want to celebrate girls and women who are called bossy. Because these assertive ladies are doing a lot of things right.

When someone calls you bossy, it is because you are demonstrating promising leadership traits.

When someone calls you bossy, it’s their way of saying — “I didn’t expect you to be this loud, and my life would be easier if I didn’t have to listen to you.”

When someone calls you bossy, don’t let them convince you that asserting yourself is a bad thing. What you have to say is important.

The same characteristics that cause some to call you “bossy” will lead others to call you confident, capable, and ambitious. So don’t back down. I would be willing to bet that no successful woman has gotten where she is today without being called bossy.

Sam LetscherComment