By Alissa Thibault
As if we needed anymore reason to love Beyonce, she’s now put her name behind a campaign called ‘Ban Bossy’, the brainchild of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to encourage leadership qualities in young girls.
Here’s the theory behind it - “When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don't raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”
It’s a common story for plenty of girls growing up, myself included. As a kid I was pretty studious and outgoing, I liked being involved in lots of those extra curricular activities and I liked doing them well.
In primary school I was getting top marks and took the ‘head down’ approach to my work, I was also the girl who teachers sat next to the naughty kids in the hopes I'd somehow show them how to behave. But when I wanted to listen and the kids next to me were talking, I'd tell them to be quiet - this doesn't go down well when you're 11, or 15 or even in your final year of high school, I assure you. When we had group projects to do, I'd be the first one to step up and start delegating. As I quickly learnt, this can be intimidating and outright weird coming from a red haired, freckled girl.
So then the names started - ‘bossy’, ‘know-it-all’, ‘teacher’s pet’, ‘nerd’. And it didn't take long for those names to hurt. It doesn't matter that you get A's on your tests if no one wants to talk to you in the playground, that’s pretty tough to swallow as a 12 year-old. So I formed a new plan, stop doing so well and people will like me.
I stopped studying so hard, I stopped answering questions in class and the real kicker for my parents and my teacher - I pulled out of the public speaking competition, even though I was pretty good at it. Given my job now involves speaking on the radio for a living, I can safely say I was probably very good at it. But at the time it was easier to fit in if you weren’t that girl who was always on stage at assembly.
The funny thing was it worked for a while, I got invited to more parties and I got to sit with the cool kids at lunch. I stopped being so ‘assertive’ and people stopped calling me ‘bossy’. But on the other side of that my grades started to slip and I saw other people succeed where I knew I could too. I hated it. My year 7 teacher pulled me aside and asked why I was pulling out of things and putting my hand down, I told her I wanted people to like me. Just like Beyonce, Jennifer Garner and Condoleezza Rice in the ‘Ban Bossy’ campaign, Miss Green told me it was ok to be ambitious, assertive and a leader. It wasn’t until a few years later that I actually stopped worrying so much about the labels people gave me and started putting my hand back up.
Today, I'm the Drive Newsreader on Nova 96.9 and Nova 106.9 for the country's number one rating drive show Kate, Tim and Marty. My 'know-it-all' qualities actually help because in my job, I kind of need to 'know-it-all’. My ‘bossiness’ helps get things done and I even work with a whole team of women who were also called ‘bossy’ at school, we now wear it as a badge of pride.
So even though I was made to feel bad for my success in school, those qualities that were considered 'uncool' have put me where I am today. Beyonce is a self made, self directed woman who makes her own decisions and calls the shots - imagine if she stopped trying when people called her names? Personally, I’d much rather be bossy than fade into the background to fit in, even the cool kids can't change my mind about that. I just hope more girls can learn it earlier than I did.
To find out more about the ‘Ban Bossy’ campaign - head here http://banbossy.com