Girl Scout campaign to ban the word "bossy" - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Girl Scout campaign to ban the word "bossy"

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The Girl Scouts are part of a new campaign to stop people from calling girls "bossy". They say the word discourages young girls from pursing future leadership roles, and some prominent local women are joining the effort.

Led by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandburg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez, the goal is to get rid of a word they say promotes unequal treatment of boys and girls.

Jo Dee Jacob is the CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego, and remembers being called bossy as a girl.

"It's gender-specific because to a girl, the word bossy means I'm not a friend, I'm not likeable. To a boy, it's being assertive, confident and a leader," Jacob said.

Cindy Marten, superintendent of San Diego Unified Schools, was a Girl Scout through high school, and troop leader in college.

"I think sometimes girls are afraid to stand up to what they believe in, afraid people will think, I'm too bossy," Marten told CBS News 8.

She's right. Girl Scout research reveals nearly 30 percent of girls say they fear being leaders because they don't want to seem bossy.

But not everyone agrees the ban is a good idea.

"I don't think any word should be banned. I think it's anybody's right to use any word they want to use," Cohn Restaurant Group partner and Executive Chef Deborah Scott said.

Scott, who was also a Girl Scout, says sometimes coping with criticism only makes you stronger.

"I might have had a boy tease me or something along the line, but that's okay. That's part of growing up, and if you don't get that thick skin, then when you get in that position, you're not going to have what it takes to make it work," she said.

Marten agrees you can't control what others say, but you do have power over how you respond.

"If someone calls you bossy and you say 'Thank you, I'm a leader, I'm proud to stand up and lead,'" she said.

As San Diego's first female police chief, and a member of the Girl Scout board, Shelley Zimmerman says she appreciates the dialogue about leadership the campaign is sparking.

"It's not about being a boss. It's about building relationships. People will want to follow you. You shouldn't have to demand that they follow you," Zimmerman said.

This is supported by data from the Girl Scouts Research Institute, which found that nearly 30 percent of girls were afraid to take leadership roles, fearing they would be called bossy.

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