The movement to teach girls that nothing can rein their potential is head-strong, from toys encouraging girls’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math fields to the recently established “Ban Bossy” campaign, which intends to replace the word “bossy” with more empowering words – such as “leader” when referring to girls – an effort that benefits them for the long-run.
While marketing a (still pink) dollhouse with do-it-yourself architectural and electrical elements is a creative way to get young girls interested in male-dominated fields, the “Ban Bossy” campaign, initiated by Girl Scouts of the USA and LeanIn.org, a nonprofit organization empowering women, allows girls to learn how to actively exercise their leadership skills on an everyday basis, which calls for celebration.
A campaign, such as “Ban Bossy,” which aims to keep the ball rolling for women’s leadership, is most effective when making sure the active voices of girls are heard. While this seems obvious, the reality is that the sexes are not yet equally represented in leadership roles.
As mentioned in the campaign’s informational Leadership Tips for Girls document and reported by the Sloan Study of Youth and Social Development, girls of middle school age are 25 percent less likely than boys to say they enjoy
leadership, which the campaign addresses as something that transfers to the work force. Catalyst, a nonprofit organization advocating for women in leadership positions, reported in 2013 that 27 percent of companies lack a female executive officer.
The campaign is raising awareness of this problem with help from influential women such as Beyonce, Jennifer Garner and Condoleezza Rice in its Lifetime public service announcement titled, “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”
While it is difficult for an announcement to do more than poke around the issue, the campaign goes beyond using powerful figures to suggest girls should “just be assertive.”
“Ban Bossy” actually provides girls with a set of resources to help amplify their presence. Along with printable tips for teachers, managers and Girl Scout troop leaders, BanBossy.com offers tips for parents and girls specifically.
Many girls have no problem actively speaking their minds, and many eventually strengthen their voice as they develop into young adulthood. However, the resources the campaign provides can
likely help girls struggling with self-expression learn to tap into their confidence even before middle school.
The tips advise girls to avoid being apologetic when speaking out, to value their thoughts and to challenge their comfort zones – all traits that should be encouraged for girls in a society in which teachers must be given tips on how to specifically improve participation for girls.
While some may argue that girls do not need a how-to guide on being independent and others think girls should embrace the term “bossy,” the campaign brings to the forefront damaging inhibitions girls face and, more importantly, provides them with guidance in overcoming them.
Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.