By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
What do Beyonce, Condoleezza Rice, Diane von Furstenberg, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg all have in common? They want you to ban the word bossy. This is the mission statement of the ‘BanBossy’ campaign which launched this past March, led by Sandberg’s organization LeanIn.org and Girl Scouts of the USA, supported by a slew of celebrities and companies. The website asserts that the word ‘bossy’ is directly to blame, at least in part, for the still grossly unequal representation of women in professional leadership positions: apparently the word is overwhelmingly directed towards girls and discourages them from asserting themselves in ways deemed acceptable and even desirable for boys.
The statistics are certainly alarming: while women comprise roughly 50 percent of the population, they make up only five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, 17 percent of these companies’ board members, and 19 percent of our American congress. Clearly something is wrong with this situation. In addition to support, however, the campaign has stirred widespread critique, raising all manner of questions: Is bossy actually a gendered word? Can anyone ban a word? Is this better than reclaiming the word? Is bossiness the same as leadership? Does leadership mean professional authority? And some of the conclusions drawn about other statistics on the website have been called into question.
This week BreakThru News dug into these issues with radio personalities Sarah Fraser and Samy K. BanBossy has at least refreshed the conversation on female leadership, and all the while avoiding the word ‘feminism.’ Though clearly, Tina Fey is not onboard.
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
Research – Tanya Silverman
Social Media – Molly Freeman
with guests – Sarah Fraser, Samy K