When I was a little girl, I was often called bossy. A natural leader, sometimes my leadership skills were perceived as negative: too controlling, too vocal, too loud. I admit, I was demanding, inquisitive, and creative. I liked leading school projects that positively influenced others, whether it be giving jolly ranchers to every student on their birthday or adopting roads for my high school to keep clean. Yet, as I continuously heard this “bossy” label, I began to see a clash with the “good girl” image I so desired, based on societal norms and expectations of women. Consequently, though remaining independent and focused, I did temper my opinions, never wanting to take a side for fear of being disliked. Popularity was my goal and I was willing to forgo speaking up to appease others.
Now, as a mother and woman leader, I’m able to reflect on the damaging effects of the “good girl” narrative. For me, it silenced my voice, encouraged assimilation with the popular group, and decreased my willingness to take risks. For example, in college, I chose a “safe” major (one I knew I’d be successful in) for fear of failure in a field that was challenging or unknown.
This narrative directly affected many choices I made for my life. And I’ve finally found all of these innate qualities again, thanks to a supportive family who encourages independence and to the influence of many other female leaders.
But this raises a few questions currently affecting our young girls and women:
- How are the labels of “bossy” or “strong willed” used to demean our young girls?
- What are the implications for our young girls when they encounter and absorb these labels?
- For women, how has the “good girl” mentality reduced risk-taking behavior and encouraged subordination to male counterparts?
- How do women hold themselves back for fear of failure in risk-taking?
Join us Thursday, March 30th at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m ET to talk about the labels, narratives, and leadership challenges — and opportunities — for both young girls and women.
Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She’s a strong advocate of inquiry based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer.