March 14, 2014

5 Sound Bytes Brought to You by 5 “Bossy” Corey Women

“Girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem “bossy.”

“The confidence gap starts early. Between elementary and high school, girls’ self–esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’.”

– from

The Lean In Foundation and Girl Scouts USA

What do you get when you put Andrea Naddaff (Corey partner), Marisa Petrillo (Corey’s office director), Alisa Shapiro (Corey project manager), Deb Levison (Corey designer) and Melissa Federico (this writer) together to talk about women as leaders?

Lively discussion, thoughtful insights, and wonderfully varied points of view.  So that’s what we did.  The five of us represent age groups from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, and an equally diverse array of life experiences. But, at the end of the discussion, we found that regardless of what makes us different, we share the same concerns, and five significant truths.

The trigger for this confab was the Ban Bossy campaign launched early this month by the Lean In Foundation and Girls Scouts USA; and these are our five sound bytes:

1. Women don’t intend or want to be “bossy,” as the word is defined. But being “the boss” is quite another matter.

2. Women in roles of authority seem to arrive there via different paths. Some overcome, some are encouraged, and others grow into their roles.

3. There are workarounds. Girls who lead may start out being very direct, but often learn to adjust their communications to soften and even disguise management requests.

4. Gender still trumps ability.

5. We are squandering the future of our world when we let our little girls downplay their strengths and abilities for the sake of artificial social standards.  While everyone needs to know how to work with other human beings, teaching our children – female or male — that being liked is always better than being a Leader robs them of opportunity, and the world of their potential.

If banning the word “bossy” from the vocabularies of the world will help over 50% of the population find their voice and contribute to society, what are we waiting for?

Thoughtful Resources

Ban Bossy,” The Lean In Foundation and Girl Scouts USA, accessed March 10, 2014,

“A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication,” Maltz, Daniel N. and Borker, Ruth A., Language and Social Identity, Cambridge University Press, pp. 197 – 216.

You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation,” Tannen, Deborah; William Morrow Paperbacks, New York, NY; 2007.

Share your experience and opinions below – let’s keep the conversation going.

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