Why is it that when a little boy comes in with a tie and acts in charge he is seen as a future boss but in the same situation, a little girl who delegates and directs is more often described as bossy? Manners have taught us that we should listen to our elders. And when we emulate them, it’s natural for little boys to emulate traditional male roles. The same manners have taught us that girls should be polite, accommodating and compassionate. It is our job to “care” for others while often the focus for males is to lead.

Both sexes have a lot of natural and genetic tendencies and compassion still is something that girls should work towards–it’s something everyone could work more for. But we are in a new world and the lines between the roles of men and women have been blurred. Change starts on a very small level and even the most minute detail can affect someone’s life for years to come.

I can remember the first time I was called bossy. Gasp, yes me (I know it’s hard to imagine). I was ten and trying to create the rules for our neighborhood game of hide and seek at dusk. There was a group of 9 or 10 of us kids and a few parents. We were on the back porch of my girlfriends house, trying to get the game together. My friend’s mother laughed and said that I was born to be bossy. I stopped contributing. My friend, Brett, took the lead and laid out the rules. The mother didn’t call him anything.

These perceptions have been built up for a long time. My friend’s mom was not wrong, she was following the norm. But I wonder today how different my path would have been if I had always been encouraged to lead, the same as my male counter-parts. We can change the boundaries that girls will face by changing the way we think about male and female roles. I challenge you to think before you describe anyone. If every detail were the same, but that person was the opposite sex, would you describe them differently?

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