Posted by: hannahm22 | March 31, 2014

Ban Bossy

I found this video and I think it fits in really well with a lot of our readings and class discussions. It is a campaign to “Ban Bossy” sponsored by Lean In and Girl Scouts of USA. Well known figures speak out in this short videoing encouraging people to stop labeling women as “pushy”, “stubborn”, and “bossy”. Several of the women we have talked about are featured in the video. I appreciate that they have both men and women from various career paths speak out in this video. I also really like that they target schools specifically. The leaders of this campaign are aware that the problem starts at a young age. They specifically say that by middle school, girls are less interested in leadership than boys because they are worried about being called bossy.

There is a link in the video to the website. The website has pages for students, teachers, parents, managers, and troop leaders to target the problems that arise in schools. As a future teacher, I was curious what the “10 Tips for Teachers” to reduce gender bias in the classroom are. The list includes things such as calling on an equal number of boys and girls to answer questions, consistency between genders with praise and punishment, discouraging stereotypes such as “girls are bad at math”, and encouraging risk taking. One tip I found particularly interesting was showing the class an equal number of male and female role models. According to their fact sheet, children’s books are twice as likely to feature a male hero as a female heroine.

The most obvious tip is to watch your language. When showing the same assertive or direct behavior that is considered normal in boys, girls are often referred to as “pushy” or “bossy”. This discourages them from speaking up and being ambitious. Statistics on the website show that girls become less willing to raise their hands and answer questions or contribute ideas in class. They also have lower ambition and do not believe they can accomplish the same things as boys, such as becoming president one day.

I am interested to know your thoughts on this campaign. It is helpful or harmful? Do you think this will positively or negatively effect children in schools? Or not at all? Did you ever have experiences like the women in the video who said they were called bossy when they were growing up? If so, how did you deal with it?


  1. This campaign stirred up quite a bit of controversy. There’s a counter-movement in response to this campaign to “claim bossy”. For example (and you can Google “ban bossy” for others both for and against):

  2. I think that this campaign has a positive and a negative side. I also believe that ones views on “feminism” can either help or hurt this campaign. In saying that, let me explain myself. I feel, personally, that in order for many women to influence those around them whether that be men or other women, it often becomes necessary to avoid appearing bossy. The issue with attempting to avoid appearing bossy leads girls to extremes such as: avoiding raising their hands in the classroom, speaking their mind, or even having an opinion about certain issues -which goes against everything we have learned about equal rights for women and men. Because of this, I can see why there is a counter-movement, as Dr. Shollen said, that encourages being bossy and speaking your mind in order to assert oneself and show that women can be as influential as men. This article reminds me of the “bitch and the ditz” article that we read, which is a shame, because girls of all ages should be encouraged to speak their minds and stand up for themselves instead of being labeled “bossy” for having an opinion.

  3. As I first read the initiating post I was in complete agreement with the movement. I believe that having commercials and so much talk around #banbossy is a great way to spread the word, not just about bossy, but about women in power. The video clip had a sense of empowerment and, as I am sure everyone will agree, it wasn’t made to be harmful. Of course, this does not mean that actually banning the word bossy is a good idea. The counter movement brings up valid points that banning bossy may just give the word more power. That being said, I still think that the movement is a great way to just remind women and children that you can be whatever you want, regardless of titles. It created, for me, a feeling of women joining together to tackle an issue. That in itself should be a good thing. I am not trying to discredit the points of the counter movement but the counter movement as a whole, steals some of the value of the #banbossy movement. Both counter movement articles were written by women, it is important for them to get their opinions out, but I just feel like women (as we’ve been told) are women’s biggest critiques. I do not have a solution or an answer, I just feel that right as the #banbossy movement was picking up momentum, it got torn down.

  4. I personally am not a fan of the “Ban Bossy” campaign. While the statistics do show that young girls are less likely to want to be president and young boys are, but I don’t think that banning the label “bossy” is going to do anything but draw more attention to that trait in women and young girls. In some situations, being bossy is all that will work – so why ban that? Men are just as bossy, so women should be too. I know that I have a very controlling personality, and have often been referred to as bossy my entire life, but that hasn’t stopped me. While this is just my personal opinion, I think that the Ban Bossy campaign is only going to draw more attention to bossy girls rather than try to fix the situation at hand. Instead, girls should be empowered by being bossy.

  5. As a Communication Studies major, I have definitely learned the importance of our words. Although calling a young girl bossy may seem like a little thing, it adds up. Rarely do I hear the word bossy applied to males, but it is often used for ambitious females. Bossy has a negative connotation; therefore, it puts a negative spin on female leadership when it is used to describe a female. I agree with the message of the campaign. I think people need to think critically about the message of the campaign and the effect of the word bossy before they deem the campaign silly or ineffective. It may not change perceptions greatly, but it is a small step in the right direction. Many small steps will take you to where you are going.

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