Sinead O’Connor’s album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” debuted smack in the middle of my teenage dating angst, so even though I haven’t listened to her for –oh, a decade plus– I still click on a link when I see a Q&A with her out of sentimentality.
I was reading this excellent Salon interview yesterday (h/t MediaReDef), and was struck that she gave a big ol’ shout out to Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” campaign. In fact, it resonated so much with her that she renamed her new album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.”
Her comments on the matter could have been written by any high powered woman I know in any industry. It proves that there’s nothing unique about the “woman problem” to tech, or any other industry. This is a societal problem.
From the excellent Q&A:
…I have had over the years great difficulty when it comes to being respected and even being acknowledged as the boss, so it can be very hard to get people to act on your instructions. I’ve called up various people who were working for me over the years and asked to see such and such a document, and I’ve been told that I really don’t need to see it. When you assert yourself as a female boss and put your foot down on important matters, you can be treated as if you’re just being difficult or bossy. People generally flounder for the nearest man that they can relate to as a boss.
Around the time the [Ban Bossy] campaign kicked off, I was going through these issues and was having a hard time being heard on a particularly important matter. So I identified with the campaign from the point of view of being a female who has experienced over the years a certain amount of abuse for being assertive. I think Sheryl [Sandberg, the Ban Bossy founder] has hit on something very important. There is this attitude toward females. It does start when you’re a little girl, but it also exists when you’re a grown woman. It’s not okay to be assertive if you’re a woman. So I was just very inspired not only as a woman but as a boss. The campaign helped me exert a bit more control in my business and to feel safer about behaving like a boss.
The more people like O’Connor and Sandberg and Jill Abramson call this stuff out, regardless of their own success, the more it helps. If nothing else, it tells younger women starting their careers they aren’t alone, and they aren’t crazy. I wish other successful women at the top of all industries– like Marissa Mayer, for instance– would as well. There’s a big difference in allowing yourself to be a victim of gender inequality and wallowing it, and simply naming it so the world acknowledges it does exists and then getting on with your success.