Broken Patterns Author Anita Harris Questions Sandberg Ban Bossy Campaign
Cambridge, MA – Anita Harris, author of Broken Patterns, Professional Women and the Quest for a New Feminine Identity, supports Sheryl Sandberg’s campaign to encourage girls to become leaders.
But she questions whether the Sandberg ban bossy campaign will promote good leadership. The campaign suggests that rather than call forceful girls “bossy,” we should view them as future leaders. “But, identifying bossy individuals as leaders misses the mark—and may the diminish confidence of other girls, ” Harris says. “The Oxford Dictionaries define bossy as ‘fond of giving people orders, domineering.’ However, a good leader brings out the best in others and encourages them to excel in reaching common goals.”
Rather than use the term “leader” to describe girls or boys who tell others what to do, Harris suggests considering them candidates for leadership training. She says, “Some kids are bossy in the worst sense – pushy, cocky, tyrannical, draconian, oppressive, dictatorial or anti-democratic. And there can be a fine line between bossy and bully, regardless of gender.”
Harris is also concerned that the Sandberg campaign’s emphasis on corporate and political leadership for females could diminish the confidence of girls who are not inclined to head companies, run for office, or become highly visible “bigwigs.”
“We need to recognize and respect that there are many ways and realms in which to lead – not just in business and government, but in sports, the arts, education, nonprofits,” Harris says.” Women can lead at all levels, in any job, community, school, and in their own families. We should encourage girls to be authentic, to follow their own paths, and to assume leadership in ways that will positively impact their own lives and the people around them.”
Anita M. Harris is the author of Broken Patterns, Professional Women and the Quest for a New Feminine Identity (2nd edition, February, 2014). A former journalist, Harris covered “women’s issues” for Newsday and MacNeil/Lehrer (now the NewsHour) of PBS. She is now managing director of the Harris Communications Group, an award-winning PR and marketing firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.