Thursday 29 September 2016

Marissa Carter: Being labelled ‘bossy’ as a little girl will teach women to be afraid of their own power

Published 11/03/2014 | 14:32

Marissa Carter
Marissa Carter

The words ‘bossy’ and ‘pushy’ are words that women are allergic to.

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No one wants to be described that way and if we are, it feels like a mar on our character. The negative connotations associated with those labels can shape the way we, as women, think about leadership.

The #BanBossy online campaign spearheaded by women including Beyoncé, Diane Von Furstenburg and Jane Lynch wants to spread the message that words matter and by changing the language we use, we can change how women feel about being the boss.

If words like domineering, stubborn and aggressive are replaced with empowering adjectives such as confident, tenacious and assertive it will ensure our little girls grow up embracing their leadership qualities and not afraid of exhibiting them.

Growing up as the eldest of eight children, five of them boys, nurtured my own ‘bossy’ characteristics. I was regularly labelled a ‘little madam’ by my parents and a ‘bossy boots’ by my siblings.

My own little man turns two this week and already, I see his mother’s defiance in his eyes and a recognisable wilfulness. My husband and I laugh daily about it but we’ve always said things like, ‘He really knows his own mind, doesn’t he?’ If he was a little girl would we be saying ‘She’s a bossy little thing, isn’t she?’

If we don’t change the language we use are we unknowingly contributing to a society where women are discouraged from taking charge? It’s been my own experience in business that you don’t need to be hard-nosed to get things done but you do need to be decisive and comfortable taking control of situations.

I once heard a great quote – ‘Leaders create leaders, not followers’ and it stuck with me. Let’s make a collective decision not to ever quash another woman and together celebrate how more and more women are embracing their ambitiousness and becoming comfortable in their roles as leaders.

As a mother, I hope to teach my son to feel secure around powerful women – to respect their unique ability to lead emphatically. This will be my contribution to the #BanBossy campaign. Will you make one? Tweet me @CarterMarissa – I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Marissa Carter is the creator and owner of Cocoa Brown, for more information click here:


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