Monday, March 10th, 2014
After inciting much-needed conversation on workplace feminism with her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and mother of two, opens up about her own family life and gives us the inside scoop on her new Ban Bossy public-service campaign—which starts by asking parents and kids alike to stop using the word “bossy” to describe strong girls.
What can we do to help ban the word “bossy?”
People often see gender inequality as a problem too big to fix on their own, but I think cultural shifts happen by small things we do each day. To help ban the word “bossy,” tell your girls:
- Speak Up. Raise your hand in class and express yourself.
- Believe in Yourself. Trust that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
- Stop Apologizing. There’s no need to say that you’re sorry for making a decision.
- Practice. Remember, leadership is a muscle that can be worked like any other.
How did becoming a mother influence you to start the Ban Bossy public-service campaign?
Becoming a parent was a big part of my journey to Lean In and Ban Bossy. As a parent, you recognize the inequalities your child may encounter. I remember reading a study done with moms of babies that really stuck with me. When asked to evaluate their children’s crawling abilities, the mothers systematically underestimated the girls’ abilities and overestimated the boys’. There was no factual evidence to support the mothers’ gender bias. Both sexes actually performed the same when tested. It made me realize that I was likely underestimating my daughter without even realizing it, which was a big eye-opener for me. Lean In is for the workplace, but also for the home. It has to be achieved at home.
How will the Ban Bossy campaign help eradicate gender inequality?
I think people look at big problems like gender issues and think, “This is a big deal. How can I change this myself?” At Lean In, we believe so deeply that these cultural problems change by the small things each of us do: The changes we make by paying attention to the little everyday stuff do not have a small impact. Major cultural shifts happen with small changes.
How do you model some of the Ban Bossy techniques in your own home?
Many parents still, to this day, assign household chores like dishes and laundry to their girls, while boys mow the lawn and take out the trash. In my home, the entire family does the dishes together: mom, dad, son, and daughter work as a team to clean up.
What a great lesson for both your daughter and son!
Even though it is a small thing, the extra steps are so important. A couple of weeks ago, some friends of ours invited a few families to their home for dinner. After we finished eating, I noticed that the women, myself included, headed to the kitchen to clean up while the men settled down in front of the TV. Our children were watching this. We have to model equality in order for our children to believe it exists for them.
How do you think we can encourage our male partners to adopt this philosophy?
Telling men that equality is good for women isn’t enough; however, I do think that a lot of fathers already realize the challenges their daughters face. So many men have told me they want their daughters to have the same opportunities they did. The number-one thing a man can do as a father is be involved. No matter the family’s income level, children with more active fathers have better outcomes, both emotionally and financially.
If we need to ban the word “bossy” for girls, what’s a word you’d like to see used more often to describe girls?
It’s interesting; I was talking to my 9-year-old niece about the word “bossy” when we were preparing to launch the program. I asked, “What do you think about the word ‘bossy?’ Is it for boys or for girls?” She said bossy is for girls; the word they use for boys is leader. She is only 9 and already intuitively understands what is going on. It’s not that I want to see that taken away from boys; I just want the word “leader” to be applied equally to girls, and for the same behaviors.
How do you handle this with your daughter?
Last night she was telling me about a playdate with one of her friends where they played teacher. When I asked her to tell me about the game, and who played what role, she said, ‘She is always the teacher, and I am always the student.’ I asked her if she would like to be the teacher sometime. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘but she always wants to be the teacher.’ I coached her on ways she could talk to her friend about taking turns. I want her to learn how to be vocal, say how she feels, and speak up for herself. It’s my job to encourage her to go after what she wants.
What message do you hope your daughter remembers as she grows up?
“You can do anything.’ One of the catalysts to Lean In was a conversation with my daughter on President’s Day one year. We played a song about presidents, and my daughter asked me why the presidents were all boys. After a pause, I explained that although they have been, she could be the next president. I want her to know she has the opportunity to do anything she wants.”
Do you think we praise girls too often on their appearance? “We focus way too much on how girls look. A girl walks in from school, and we tell her how pretty she looks today. We don’t do that with boys. It’s not that we can’t tell our daughters they are beautiful; we just need to praise them for attributes they can actually control, too, and do it more often.
What specific media examples have a positive message for girls today?
My kids and I just watched Frozen and it was a feminist home run! When I went in to watch the movie, I didn’t know the plot. Look what happens! She gets engaged knowing the guy for a few hours and that obviously turns out to be a bad idea. She is saved in the end by the love for her sister. It is a great plotline with strong, independent female characters. My son and his friends love it too. I am so proud of Disney for this movie. It is a feminist fairy tale.
What TV shows feature female characters in a positive light?
Doc McStuffins is everything you want girls to see on TV. She’s assertive, a leader, and a diverse character. We have progressed so far in how we portray female characters on children’s TV shows. Think back to how Lucy was portrayed in Peanuts. It wasn’t positive. We have already come such a long way, but there’s still quite a way to go.
What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out.
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Friday, October 7th, 2011
School Tells Girl Wearing Rosary Violates Dress Code
An Omaha, Nebraska, sixth-grader was told she could not wear a necklace with a cross to school because the rosary has become an identifying symbol for gangs, CNN affiliate KETV reported.
Report: ER Visits for Kids’ Concussions on the Rise
Emergency room visits by children with concussions and other traumatic brain injuries from sports or other recreational activities have jumped over the last decade, a new government report shows.
Risky Pregnancy Drug Raised Daughters’ Cancer Odds
A drug that millions of pregnant women took decades ago to prevent miscarriage and complications has put their daughters at higher risk for breast cancer and other health problems that are showing up now, a new federal study finds.
Beyond Cookies: Girl Scouts Earning Modern Badges
Girl Scouts of the USA has just released a series of newer, modern badges that show the century-old organization is hip with the times.
Fast Food Ads Have More Impact than Parents, Study Suggests
Food ads have a powerful influence on children’s food choices but parents can lessen that effect, according to a new study.
Prehistoric Kids Left Marks in Caves
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Archaeologists say the shapes of finger marks suggest that children as young as 2 years old made drawings on the walls of a Paleolithic cave dwelling, with an occasional boost from the grown-ups.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
FDA issues warnings to four hand sanitizer companies
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday the companies claim their lotions and gels can prevent a variety of infections, including staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and bird flu. Companies that claim their products can prevent a disease must submit scientific studies to the FDA before launching them. “The FDA cannot allow companies to mislead consumers by making unproven prevention claims,” said FDA compliance director Deborah Autor, in a statement.
Girl Scouts court the growing Latina population in U.S.
According to the latest demographic data, the Latino population now totals 16.3% of the nation’s inhabitants, increasing by 43% over the last ten years. One organization taking this information to heart is the Girl Scouts of America. Already the 100 year-old organization enjoys some pretty impressive membership numbers among young American girls with one in 10 claiming membership in Girl Scouts. But in order to keep up with these ever-evolving demographic trends, the organization decided to launch a new national Hispanic-focused media campaign to reach “one of the only girl populations in the country that is growing,” according Girl Scout Council of Northern Texas.
No new PlayStation, Xbox until 2014?
Gamers might have to wait at least another three years before there’s any update to their Xbox or PlayStation consoles. Prominent gaming news site Kotaku on Thursday quoted multiple unnamed sources saying both Sony and Microsoft hope to extend the life of the current generation of consoles for as long as possible.
Teen fakes pregnancy as school project
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A student at a high school in south-central Washington state faked her pregnancy for the past six months as a social experiment for her senior project. Gaby Rodriguez revealed she was not pregnant Wednesday by taking off the belly bundle in front of a stunned student assembly at Yakima High School that ended with a standing ovation. Her presentation about rumors and stereotypes is part of her about the perceptions of a pregnant student. The 17-year-old will present her project in May before she graduates.
Friday, February 4th, 2011
Schools get shortchanged in Federal Impact Aid
When a large military installation takes place, it can put on a huge strain school district that has limited financial resources. Those districts suffer when they don’t get the full amount they’re entitled to under a 60-year-old federal program designed to ease the burden of having military bases or tribal reservations that pay no local property taxes within the districts’ borders, yet send hundreds of students to their schools. The aid goes to school districts to make up for untaxed Indian lands, military installations, public housing and national parks, says John Forkenbrock, executive director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools. Unfortunatley, Congress hasn’t fully funded the program since 1969. (USA Today)
Early childhood education benefits both kids, taxpayers, study says
Investing in early childhood education can yield impressive economic benefits — both for children and taxpayers, according to a National Institutes of Health study that followed participants until age 26. Each dollar spent on Chicago-based, federally funded Child-Parent Centers generates $4 to $11 in return, both because children finished high school or college, earning more than their peers, and also because participants were less likely to be held back, arrested, depressed, involved with drugs or sick, the study says. (USA Today)
Teenagers, Friends and Bad Decisions
In studies at Temple University, psychologists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone versus with their friends. The findings suggest that teenage peer pressure has a distinct effect on brain signals involving risk and reward, helping to explain why young people are more likely to misbehave and take risks when their friends are watching. (New York Times)
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Friday, February 27th, 2009
This Week's DVD Goody:
Let's take a moment to give the hilarious Amy Poehler her due. Some time in between pulling off the best 9-months-preggers rap ever (Sorry, M.I.A.), having a new baby, and just being awesome with Tina Fey, she managed to bring her comedic genius to the kiddies. In case you've missed it, she voices the lead in a new animated show on Nickelodeon. But the good news is you can catch up on the fun with the DVD, The Mighty B!: We Got the Bee. I dare you not to laugh at her impression of an overzealous, girl-scout-type 10-year-old.
More Kid-Friendly DVDs:
The Wiggles Present: Dorothy the Dinosaur
Wonder Pets!: Big Missions, Little Heroes!
Wonder Pets!: Join the Circus
This Week's Big-Screen Goody:
Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience (rated G)
The Put-Your-Kids-to-Bed-First Pick of the Week:
Summer Heights High
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Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
Yesterday I got the email I’ve been waiting for all year long. It was from fellow Parents editor Jackie. She’s not just the food editor, but also our source for Girl Scout cookies. That’s how we know that it’s officially girl school cookie season. YUM! If you’re lucky, a girl scout will come to you, but if one doesn’t go here. By the way, what’s your favorite? This one is my favorite. But I love the peanut butter ones too.
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