Friday, March 14, 2014

WIRTW #311 (the “bossy” edition)

Earlier this week Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg launched She believes that “bossy” is to aspiring female leaders as the n-word is to African-Americans. Sandberg argues that banning people from calling young women bossy will help give them the confidence to lead when they are older.

What a bunch of bunk. You know what will give young women the confidence to lead? Providing them opportunities to lead. How about we focus more on the percentage of female leaders at Fortune 500 companies (a paltry 16.9% of corporate board members, 14.6% of Executive Officer positions, and 4.6% of CEOs) instead of the words we choose to call those who might some day aspire to bridge that gap?

Words are just words. Banning them, no matter how offensive they might be, doesn’t change the underlying thoughts and the resulting behavior. Do you know what happens when you ban a word like “nigger?” People who are inclined to say it think it instead. Banning a word doesn’t end bigotry, it just takes it underground. Banning “bossy” won’t increase opportunities for women just like banning the N-word won’t end racism.

We should all agree that increasing opportunities for women in the workplace is a worthy goal. We are kidding ourselves, however, if we believe that banning a word will help achieve it.

For more critiques of Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” campaign, see:

Here’s the rest of what I read this week:


Social Media & Workplace Technology
HR & Employee Relations
Wage & Hour