Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg tells Parents magazine that strong girls should not be called "bossy." And she's backing up that belief with a "Ban Bossy" public service campaign.
"Parents often see gender inequality as a problem too big to fix on their own, but I think cultural shifts happen by small things that we do each day," Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, told Parents.
Instead, she recommends parents tell their daughters to speak up in class, raising their hands and expressing their views. Encourage them, she says, to believe in themselves, stop apologizing and practice being leaders.
Sandberg, who wrote "Lean In," said being a parent is a "big part of my journey to lean in and ban bossy. As a parent, you recognize the inequalities your child may encounter. I remember reading a study done with moms of babies that really stuck with me. When asked to evaluate their children's crawling abilities, the mothers systematically underestimated the girls' abilities and overestimated the boys'. There was no factual evidence to support the mothers' gender bias. Both sexes actually performed the same when tested. It made me realize that I was likely underestimating my daughter without even realizing it, which was a big eye-opener for me."
In the article, she answers such questions as how she models ban-bossy techniques herself and explains how she'd like to see the campaign help eradicate gender inequality.
She also noted that when she talked to her 9-year-old niece about the word "bossy," the child said it is for girls; the word they use for boys is "leader." Sandberg would like to see girls called leaders, too.
As for media examples that give girls a positive message, she recommends the animated "Frozen." "It is a great plotline with strong, independent female characters," she said.
Sandberg and her thoughts on women, workplace and parenting have made other forays into news stories. Last year, for example, as "Lean In" was being published, Sandberg and Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer were being touted as two of the strongest voices in the "can mom have it all?" debates.
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