Help Us "Ban Bossy"
When a little boy asserts himself, he is called a leader.
When a little girl asserts herself, she is called “bossy.”
Starting at a surprisingly young age, cultural gender expectations discourage girls from leadership. When a young girl asserts herself in the manner expected of boys, she risks being branded bossy—a precursor to other offensive and dismissive descriptors such as “aggressive,” “angry” and “overly ambitious.”
Research on girls and leadership is devastatingly clear. According to a study the Girl Scouts Research Institute (GSRI) conducted, by middle school girls are less interested in leadership roles than boys because they fear being disliked. Indeed, 53% of Girl Scouts have been called bossy at least once, and teachers are more likely to ask a Girl Scout to lead at school because of her well-developed leadership skills.
“Girls are twice as likely as boys to avoid leadership roles for fear of being deemed ‘bossy’ by their peers,” explains Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). “At Girl Scouts, we want to bring adults and girls together to empower them as our next generation of leaders.”
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, author of Lean In, and founder of LeanIn.org, believes we should encourage girls to “lean in” and let their voices be heard. “We need to recognize the ways we systematically discourage leadership in girls from a young age—and instead, we need to encourage them [to lead],” Sandberg explains.
Leadership Tips for Parents, Troop Leaders & Teachers
As parents, educators, and friends, we can make small changes that have a big impact on girls’ ambitions.
- Tips for Parents (3.01 MB)
- Tips for Troop Leaders (3.75 MB)
- I-Statements Troop Activity (572.03 KB)
For troops with girls ages 8 and older. Learn what I-Statements are and how to use them to resolve conflicts. This packet includes step-by-step instructions, sample talking points and a troop handout.
- Tips for Teachers (4.87 MB)
We want all girls to know they can be anything they want to be.
Whether your girl seeks to be the CEO of the world’s largest company or the CEO of her family at home, the time to ban bossy is now—and the campaign should start at home. “So the next time you have the urge to call your little girl ‘bossy’?” Sandberg explains. “Take a deep breath and say, ‘My daughter has executive leadership skills.’”
Visit girlscouts.org/banbossy to learn more.