The Ban Bossy campaign led by Facebook COO and Lean In founder, Sheryl Sandberg, and the Girl Scouts of USA works to help empower girls and women. The campaign partnered with celebrities and businesses to share quotes, stories and tips for girls, parents, troop leaders and managers to help women become leaders. The basis of the campaign comes from statistics that show that when boys assert themselves they are called leaders, but when girls assert themselves they are labeled as bossy.
The Ban Bossy websites shares leadership tips for girls, parents, teachers, managers and troop leaders that contain statistics and tips for difficult situations. Some examples include allowing boys and girls to work together in groups, pausing after questions so that all students have time to answer, asking questions without right answers so students can answer without the fear being wrong, reading books and watching movies with heroines and heroes, differentiating between competence and being well-liked in the workplace and eliminating language that contains gender bias.
The site also displays favorite stories and resources that “encourage girls to flex their leadership muscles.” These range from PDF activities for girls and parents to complete, to troop activities, to media choices and information, to stories of real girls breaking stereotypes and being leaders.
So how can we expand upon the Ban Bossy campaign? Two Arizona businesswomen speak up about what it means to be a woman in business and how to break the glass ceiling.
Lisa Pino, an ASU alumna and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at USDA, and Kimber Lanning, an Arizona business owner and founder of Local First Arizona, both talk about women needing to take the initiative and use their voice.
Pino explains that she first took the initiative when she worked at a small, private college. She pitched an idea about how to help women enter and stay in college through difficult socio-economic situations such as teenage motherhood, financial struggles and cultural differences. Through this idea, Pino implemented the first minority retention program at the college. “I was fortunate to have a woman boss, and this gave me the initiative to empower myself and do work other than what I was assigned,” Pino states. After this first critical step, Pino states that she later realized that she could be the leader because she learned how to exercise new muscles in creativity and leadership.
Lanning takes a similar position when she states, “Don’t use ‘I’m a girl’ for an excuse for anything – good or bad.” She continues to explain, “I don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on what I can or can’t do,” Lanning states, “I just leap. Fear of failure is not a reason to not try.”
Lanning took the initiative at a young age. She explains that she was passed over for a manager position at a record shop because “no one would listen to a 100-pound woman.” So, Lanning opened her own store, Stinkweeds, instead.
Both women also agree that women need to speak up for themselves in the workplace. Pino explains, “As a woman, it’s necessary to be able to exercise your voice.”
She continues to explain that there is a recent shift in the workplace. Previously, she says, women needed to act like men in the workplace, but now there is an appreciation for the qualities that women tend to have and how those can be regarded as strengths.
“Women tend to have the likelihood of listening, negotiating and handling situations. They work on challenges with a longer view, and are not just forced by the short-term pressure,” Pino explains, “Women tend to be more ambidextrous because they are used to doing it all – work and family. Juggling many things is part of the norm.”
Lanning agrees that women need to show what they can offer in the workplace. She states, “I try to take the time to be conscientious about what I can offer to other people, but if I need to, I have a big toolbox and boxing gloves if needed.” However, Lanning also points out “if women come to work with their boxing gloves every day that is not helpful either.” She suggests that women find ways to collaborate and show their worth.
Pino also speaks directly about Ban Bossy, Lean In and other women’s campaigns. She explains that, even with some of the criticism, all of these campaigns are successful because they start the dialogue. She claims, “It is not as simple as identifying one word – it is a much more complex subject – but, nevertheless, we are talking about it.” She explains that through the extensive coverage from mass media, social media and other women that now people who are not women have to talk about it as well. “Let’s continue the dialogue, let’s see what measurable actions we can take together, let’s create some sort of coalition of support and collaboration,” Pino states.
Finally, Pino states that she is excited and proud of the millennial generation. “It is so exciting for younger women today. It is fantastic that they are growing up in a culture where they won’t tolerate challenges that women had in the past. Also, male millenials are much more progressive in believing in equity for women. I am inspired by younger women and their courage in speaking out about these issues. The culture is changing.”
As women are still underrepresented in board rooms, in business, in the STEM fields and in politics, the discussion needs to continue about equality in the workplace. Ban Bossy attempts to confront the stereotypes and double standards that women face and show girls and women how to lean in. As Beyoncé states, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.
Check out part 2 of this article discussing the Paycheck Fairness Act and President Barack Obama’s Executive Order.