Think about words used to describe girls. When they’re assertive they’re bossy. Yet, when a boy is decisive he’s a boss. While it seems innocent enough, more and more companies are taking a stand on the negative effects of labeling. For example, Pantene recently showcased the differences between how women and men are perceived in the workplace. It’s pretty amazing how the same behavior can be seen so differently depending on who is doing it.
When we think how girls become leaders, it is important to recognize they face subtle obstacles that might hinder their success. Whether you have daughters, nieces or have friends with daughters, helping them become leaders is something we can all start today. “We need to move beyond the idea that girls can be leaders and create the expectation that they should be leaders,” said Condoleezza Rice. And yet, when we look at the data, by middle school, girls are 25% less likely than boys to say they like taking the lead.
Banning The Word Bossy
In 2014, three influential women, Condoleezza Rice, Sheryl Sandberg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, started a public service campaign to ban the word bossy. In the article “3 Influential Women, One Powerful Message” Condoleezza Rice talks about how “words matter.” A recent Girl Scouts study showed that one third of girls 8-17 don’t want to be a leader because of what their peers might think. Imagine how this impacts future women leaders as they enter the workforce!
Alicia Keys, singer, says it very well “The word bossy makes you feel like you have to stand down. Don’t let people misinterpret your strength.” We can make a difference by influencing what girls are called and even more importantly, join a new movement that will shape future generations “I will #banbossy”.
Getting Girls To Take The Lead
So how can we get our daughters, nieces and friends to take the lead? Here are a few examples of things you can do today to ensure that our tween girls are the leaders of tomorrow:
1) Introduce them to women currently in leadership roles. Do you have friends or neighbors (or even women in your own workplace) who are in leadership? See if you can set up a meeting with your middle-schooler to chat about her role and what it took to get there.
2) Encourage her to take on leadership roles herself. It can be tempting to want to shield our kids from heartbreak, but that’s not helpful in the long run. If your daughter wants to run for student council, take the lead in the school play or simply head up a committee at Girl Scouts — let her! Help set her up for success by making sure she’s organized, proactive and ready for any challenges!
3) Talk about current events. Talk about what’s happening in the world right now and how that impacts your family. Ask questions like “How would you solve that problem?” or “What would you have done differently?” By doing so, you’re getting her mind trained to think like a leader.
Have you ever been labeled like in the Pantene video? How did it make you feel? Has your daughter or niece been labeled by a teacher, parent, coach or adult in their life? It is time to help girls feel strong and correct someone when they use those words.
What action will you take today to help change the labels are placed on girls? Let us know what you think, join us in Girl Talk or comment below. We love hearing from you!
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