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Lean In Campaign: Ban Bossy

I'm happy to be working with and we are proud to partner with Girl Scouts to bring you "Ban Bossy". One of the things that we see are clear gender differences that emerge around leadership very, very young. When a boy takes charge of a situation he's a leader. When a girl does that she's branded bossy; and this becomes a pre-cursor to girls that will go on to be called aggressive, too ambitious, too much. And this is precisely what discourages girls from leading. And the evidence is clear: how we talk to girls about assertiveness directly will influence how aspirational they feel. A mentor of mine who isn't an educator once said to me, "If you ask a room full of first grade girls who's the best runner in the classroom, they all raise their hand-I'm the best runner." Then she said to me, "If you ask a group of fifth grade girls who's the best runner they'll point to her, they'll point to that one girl." What she didn't say, but what I was thinking, is that if you ask a group of eighth grade girls who's the best runner in the class room, they'll point to her but then she'll say, "Oh no, no, not me. I'm not so good." She'll put herself down. And that is the result of growing up in a culture that tells girls don't speak up, don't self-promote, don't stand up for yourself because that's not feminine; because that's not what good girls do. And we see the results in whether or not women feel comfortable in asking for raises. We see the results in the stigma that assertive women experience in the workplace. So, we've got to cultivate assertiveness in girls early on but we also have to make it okay for them to be out spoken in the first place.

Educator, Rachel Simmons, Author of Odd Girl Out, discusses girls' the Ban Bossy Campaign and how girls' self-esteem declines from preschool to middle school.


Expert Bio

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Rachel Simmons

Author & Educator

Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to empower young women to be more authentic, assertive and self-aware.

Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator who works with schools and organizations around the world. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduate women at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College. She has previously worked as a classroom teacher in Massachusetts and South Africa.

Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and is a contributing writer and advice columnist for Teen Vogue.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah and the Today show, and appears regularly in the national me- dia. Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter and West Highland Terrier, Rosie, who is currently taking private workshops with Rachel to learn how to stop bullying other dogs.

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