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Posts Tagged ‘Glass Ceiling’

There has been quite a bit of buzz around LeanIn.org and the Girl Scouts of the USA’s public service campaign Ban Bossy. In full disclosure, I am a CEO of one of the Girl Scout councils.

As you can imagine, the opinions range from supporting a ban on the word “bossy” while others think being “bossy” is synonymous with confidence.

I am fascinated by this discussion because I think everyone can relate on some level. I am sure we’ve called someone bossy, we were called bossy, or we overheard someone being called bossy. In every instance, the word was not meant as a compliment.

Why would anyone think being called bossy is a compliment? Could it be that the definition of the word has been expanded to include positive attributes and less of the “sting” that used to accompany the word?

Through time, the word “bossy” has become more ambiguous to me. I started to feel one would need to be bossy if they were to reach their goals. Perhaps “bossy” meant you were not a pushover and you were capable of standing up for yourself in any situation. Even though I found a way to accept a negatively-charged word, being called “bossy” still did not feel good.

Now that I have a greater understanding of this campaign and have re-evaluated the meaning of the word, I’ve had a change of heart. The campaign encourages us to ban the general and broad use of the word and describe the actual behavior. For instance, if someone is acting aggressive, we should describe the behavior as aggressive instead of “bossy.” “Bossy” is being used to describe both aggressive and assertive behavior. This is why the authors of the articles I read embraced the word “bossy. They thought the word meant assertive.

As a female in an executive leadership position who has the responsibility of hiring, I look for staff, especially women, who are assertive. The assertive women that I know are successful because they work hard to reach their goals. They do not allow anything to get in the way of them succeeding. They stand up for what is important to them even if it is an unpopular opinion.

The Ban Bossy campaign is also addressing how the use of this word is causing girls and young women to shy-away from leadership positions because they do not want to be considered “bossy.” There is a glass ceiling in corporate America. Women are underrepresented in many areas, and the only way that this will change is if girls and young women are not afraid to take leadership roles. If banning this word will encourage girls to lead, count me in! I do not want to see anyone, girl or boy, not succeed because of the use of a word. I remember as a child the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As an adult, I know that this childhood saying has some flaws, but we cannot let the word “bossy” prevent anyone –especially girls –from being leaders.

Join me and others as we take the pledge to ban “bossy.”

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Four business executives having meeting in boardroomForbes magazine published an article that talked about how women receive conflicting messages in the workplace.  The article gives examples of conflicting messages like, “speak up but don’t be pushy” or “lead with confidence but don’t contradict your boss.”

With all these unspoken codes, it’s any wonder that women speak up at all. As we strive to break the glass ceiling and earn the same rate of pay as men, it comes with an inherent set of ground rules that we have to redefine.

There are times in an office setting when your opinion is the unpopular one, but you have to develop the fortitude to share it.  I agree with the author of this article when she said, that women who do not speak up in the workplace contribute to stalled progress in their professional careers.  A leader learns to trust his/her instincts and is willing to accept the consequences of those decisions.

Sometimes as women move up the corporate ladder, many are not interested in mentoring or offering career advice to young women within the organization who are striving to follow in their footsteps. The mindset of “I’ve got mine, now get yours” is unproductive and can set back the progress so many women in our past have fought for.  I’m reminded of the saying that is still relevant today – each one, reach one.  Let’s not allow the unspoken rules in the office silence our creativity, passion, or experience. Let’s avoid living up to the stereotypes of women being jealous and “catty” toward one another and choose to embrace the teamwork and solidarity needed to not only celebrate women’s successes, but to collectively strive to redefine the messages that are being sent in the workplace.

According to the article, our courage to share our thoughts and opinions begins in the classroom. We must teach our children-especially young girls, that it is ok for them to have an opinion and to not be afraid to share it.

As these young girls grow up and join the workplace, they will begin to trust their instincts and ultimately will exhibit the confidence that is respected in the boardroom by their colleagues.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

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This month’s blog salutes the women who paved the road for me and so many others in celebration of National Women’s History Month.

I want to thank all the trailblazers who have made contributions throughout history to equal the playing field and shatter the glass ceiling for women.Business Woman Working on Laptop

To be a ‘first’ or also known as a trailblazer, you must have the ability to move beyond your fears, be a visionary, have tenacity, and be willing to “give it all up” for your cause. I believe every female trailblazer had these characteristics.

Significant progress has been made in the United States and now the movement has expanded to include the rights of women internationally.

As the recipient of these trailblazers’ accomplishments, we have an obligation to not let their hard work go in vain. We must continue to strive for excellence in our roles and keep our eyes open for opportunities to help other young girls and women. Our reach is becoming global thanks to the advancement of technology. We must extend our efforts to the women in other countries.

Can we really celebrate fully our accomplishments when so many women are still suffering and being viewed as second-class citizens?

On March 8, International Women’s History Day, World Association of World Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world hosted a 24 hour chat across eight time zones to discuss education, violence and decent job opportunities for girls and young women.

As the famous quote says, “To know your future, you must know your past.” If this quote is accurate, greater days are ahead in the advancement of women’s rights. Let’s continue to advance the movement.

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