WOMEN
03/18/2014 09:50 am ET

Why The 'Ban Bossy' Campaign Doesn't Matter To Women Of Color

STAN HONDA via Getty Images

A year after first preaching the rewards of “leaning in,” Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, has launched a new campaign to eliminate the use of the word “bossy.” Featuring a video by Beyoncé and endorsements from the Jennifer Garner, Condoleezza Rice, and the Girl Scouts, “Ban Bossy” promises to “encourage girls to lead.” But, in the same way that Lean In ignored the voices of women of color, the “Ban Bossy” campaign fails to acknowledge the ways in which our specific experiences in the workplace and in leadership positions are impacted by class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Sheryl Sandberg and Ana-Maria Chavez argue that the word “bossy” has historically been used to describe girls more than boys for the same behavior, effectively “gendering” the word. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the root of the word to an 1882 article in Harper’s Magazine that stated, “There was a lady manager who was dreadfully bossy.”

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