You're The Boss: Girl Scouts, LeanIn Vow To Ban 'Bossy'



There is a new term nominated to join the list of offensive words: bossy. The Girl Scouts of the USA, BBDO New York and LeanIn.org, the workplace initiative from Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, are introducing Ban Bossy, a public service campaign to encourage leadership and success in girls.

It also aims to eliminate the word bossy from everyone's vocabulary. "We need to recognize the many ways we systematically discourage leadership in girls from a young age -- and instead, we need to encourage them," said Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook. "So the next time you have the urge to call your little girl bossy? Take a deep breath and praise her leadership skills instead."

The campaign spotlights the various ways girls are discouraged from leading and to provide strategies -- in both English and Spanish--that help girls become more successful in their careers and in life. The initiative includes educational materials, the BanBossy.com Web site, public service announcements (PSAs) and social media outreach.

"Girls are twice as likely as boys to avoid leadership roles for fear of being disliked or deemed 'bossy' by their peers," added Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. "At Girl Scouts, we want to bring adults and girls together to empower girls as our next generation of leaders. Abandoning 'bossy' is a great start."

It takes a village to launch a major initiative in today's fragmented and cluttered media environment. As such, promotional partners include Teach for America, Common Sense Media, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Edmodo, KIPP, AARP, Free The Children, Kids in the House, UrbanSitter, Babble, BlogHer, Upworthy, BBYO, Pantene and Always Feminine Care brand.

Lifetime Television has partnered with LeanIn.Org to create and produce an original Ban Bossy PSA to air on the network. The campaign's pro-bono creative agency BBDO New York has developed another video that illustrates the consequences for discouraging girls from leadership roles. 

Meanwhile, Getty Images is expanding on its earlier initiative with LeanIn.org to create a stock photo library of powerful imagery of women and girls by introducing "BanBossy," a collection of images focused on girls' leadership. Until now, searches for images of women plumbers, for instance, would largely show pictures of young, hot Playboy-esque models working under the sink. Now, young girls will see images more reflective of reality. 

The campaign is loaded with star power. Supporters include Michelle Obama, Madeleine Albright, Melinda Gates, Geoffrey Canada, Maria Shriver, Marc Morial, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Senator Claire McCaskill, Alicia Keys, Jane Fonda, Janelle Monáe, Billie Jean King, Tory Burch, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric and Chelsea Handler.

Still, it will take months, if not years, to transform bossy from a negative concept to a positive one. "Ban Bossy wants to change the messages we send girls," says Rachel Thomas, Co-Founder/President, LeanIn.org. "There are simple but powerful things we can do every day to encourage girls to step forward and take the lead. We teach our daughters their multiplication tables; we need to teach them to flex their leadership muscles."

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