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Sheryl Sandberg: Let's Ban the Word 'Bossy'

At a recent TED conference, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg recently discussed the importance of greater workplace equality.
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Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg proposed that the business community strikes a word from its vocabulary. 

"We need to get rid of the word 'bossy' and bring back the word 'feminist,'" Sandberg said Thursday on stage at TEDWomen, which took place in San Francisco. She was referring to the difference in attitudes toward men and women who assert themselves in the workplace, according to a TED blog post. 

Men who speak up are generally viewed as good leaders, while women are often called "bossy," for doing the same. "That little girl's not bossy. That little girl has executive leadership skills," Sandberg said.  

Sandberg is well known within the TED community and beyond for a presentation she gave in 2010 called "Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders." The talk has more than 3 million views. During TEDWomen, Sandberg shared a little bit about what was going through her head when she wrote it.  

"The subject matter wasn't her first choice; in fact, Sandberg recalls that she'd had absolutely no intention of talking about anything so personal," according to the blog post. But she changed her mind, rationalizing that for things to improve for women in business, it's necessary acknowledge how hard change can be.   

So what's changed since 2010? In terms of pay and gender equality, not that much. At best, women are paid 77 cents to a man's dollar, a number that hasn't changed since 2002, according to the blog post. 

But Sandberg believes that she and other women have managed to make small gains through their message. "Everywhere I go, CEOs, mostly men, say to me, 'You’re costing me so much money,'" Sandberg said, referring to the fact that many women are asking for more pay. "To them I say, I’m not sorry at all."

Last updated: Dec 6, 2013

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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