POWER IN WORDS — ‘BAN BOSSY’

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There have been different pieces written on the problems with the new campaign ‘Ban Bossy’ started by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. At first glance on at the campaign, I was like ‘how does bossy play into the scheme of gender gap?’ It seemed absurd but further reading and also actually searching the term on the internet was pretty interesting the take on the term ‘bossy’ which has been socially linked to women though the definition meaning ‘inclined to domineer’ is non-gender specific. But is this term sufficient enough to spur a national campaign? Parents have denounced the campaign and some writers say the word is a trivial part of the issue of gender equity. It seems to me that the only problem with this campaign is their choice of a campaign name, which seems to be the reason for the different rebuttal articles. Its evident from these different articles that the word ‘bossy’ and its effect are subjective, it may be far-reaching to link it as a causal factor of low self-esteem in girls which transcends through a life-course leading to the lack of women taking-up leadership roles. Many women are unaffected by the term and even Sandy, who started the campaign, stated she was called bossy several times but it did not deter her, this may send a message of contradiction. Maybe the campaign should have been called ‘beyond bossy’ or something of that nature. There are numerous words that probably surpass the word ‘bossy’ and there are also women who receive the word with great pride. So shouldn’t it be about training the young girls to look beyond or live above words? Life throws many things at an individual that are beyond one’s control and it is important to cultivate coping skills among young children so as to not fall prey. If bossy is banned, there are other possible words that are probably of same caliber or greater to be used.

On the other hand, this campaign is of good intentions but may need to reconsider the name. This campaign if looked into more in-depth is more than just the poor choice of the campaign name; it is about raising awareness, empowering women, bridging gaps and promoting gender equity. Women make-up about 50% of the U.S. workforce but are highly underrepresented. Looking at the statistics from the top, as of 2014, U.S. women hold 99 seats of the 535 seats (76D, 23R – 18.5%) in the congress; 20 of the 100 seats (16D, 4R – 20%) of the U.S. Senate and 79 of the 435 seats (60D, 19R – 18.2%) of the U.S. House of representatives. In a 14-sector area research carried out by the University of Denver, Colorado women ‘s college, women are shown to yield a more productive work output (over-performers) but still occupy significantly fewer positions of leadership roles. In the fortune 500 and fortune 1000 sectors, women occupy a mere 5% of CEO positions. So with all these statistics, it is evidence of the prevalent gender disparity; this disparity doesn’t stem from today or words such as ‘bossy’ but ingrained in history and its portrayal of women as second-class, which has infiltrated todays society and human thinking. So ‘ban bossy’ is a good start to raise awareness and allow societal sensitization to this issue.

Ultimately I think something this campaign seems to also shed light on is the power of word but not just the word but also one’s interpretation of these words. Words can impact a person’s life either in a positive or a negative way and also can impact a group of people. After all, it is words and more importantly the framing of words that make up great policies, and effective decision-making and other important aspects of an economy.

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