Another salvo today in the ongoing battle over whether women should be called “bossy.”
It started a year ago when author Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, first published her essay claiming that when women lead, they’re called “bossy.” When men lead, they’re called leaders.
Over the weekend, her Wall St. Journal Saturday essay suggested things haven’t gotten much better:
This doesn’t only affect women at the highest levels of power. Over the past year, I (Sheryl) have traveled around the world speaking about my book, “Lean In.” From Beijing to Minneapolis, I have asked groups of men and women to raise their hands if they’ve been called “too aggressive” at work. Time and again, a small fraction of men raise their hands, while a great majority of women shoot a hand into the air…and sometimes two. At Howard University, I asked a group of female students if they had been called “bossy” during their childhoods. From within the sea of waving hands, one woman shouted, “During my childhood? How about last week!”
These stereotypes become self-fulfilling prophecies. Despite earning the majority of college degrees, women make up just 19% of the U.S. Congress, 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 10% of heads of state. Most leadership positions are held by men, so society continues to expect leadership to look and act male and to react negatively when women lead.
“Bossy isn’t leadership,” countered Suzanne Lucas, who writes on Inc., as the “Evil HR Lady.
“Bossy girls are sometimes queen bees–with their little minions following after them. This mimics leadership, but it’s not. Queen bees attain their positions of power by tearing other girls down, by instilling fear, and by being the prettiest, or the one with the best clothes. These girls are masters of manipulation and persuade the adults that they are just that–leaders. But anyone who has ever been a victim of one of these “bossy” little girls knows that it isn’t leadership.”
Today, however, the Ban Bossy campaign unveiled a series of advertisements from some powerful women — From Condoleeza Rice to Beyonce — who disagree.
But its most effective ad might just be the one with women nobody recognizes:
Related: An Ode to Mad Men’s Peggy Olson: How She Learned to Lean In (Time).