“A good year but try not to be so bossy!”
Updated: May 21, 2020
So, by definition, a leader? Someone who uses their initiative. Someone who takes charge to get things done. Why is this adjective almost exclusively used to describe women, and rarely in a positive light?
My primary school headteacher’s message to me in my leaver’s book was “A good year but try not to be so bossy!” which has never sat right with me. If at 11 years old I was showing leadership skills – why was this behaviour discouraged from a young girl when they are the key characteristics you would look for in future managers, company directors, CEOs?
Knowing that my boyfriend and I share many personality traits as adults, I feel sure he would have expressed the same qualities from a young age but rather than be criticized, he was rewarded with the title Captain of the football team. If we are telling young girls not to be bossy, no wonder there are only 6 female CEO’s in the UK’s top 100 companies (2019).
I was so pleased to see the #BanBossy campaign some years ago, supported by Beyoncé who is a huge inspiration for women across the world, myself included. Now at 28, I can see how those traits have stayed with me into adulthood and been advantageous in my career and personal life. It’s why I am so excited to use my experience to found Equal Accountancy and help women in business excel, which I am so passionate about.
We need to support one another, build each other’s confidence and encourage our entrepreneurship so we can flourish and watch the 33% of female board members in the FTSE100 increase to the 50% it should be.
As with all forms of inequality, it can be difficult to see how you alone can make a difference, but I think it is clear with this specific issue. Don’t call girls bossy! Do not discourage any leadership qualities in the girls and young women in your life. Show them examples of successful women sharing similar characteristics and give them role models to aspire to. Support and encourage.
We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the word. Do you think we can make a positive change by banning it?
This is our first blog in a series ‘Tackling Sexism, One Word at a Time’.
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