Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Steve Bisgrove/AP.Photo)

(CNN) — Assertive and bold, strong and courageous.

These are the words we use when we think of our leaders — the characteristics we look for when we elect politicians, vet CEOs or select captains of sports teams.

Yet throughout history, these terms have been primarily applied when men have occupied leadership roles. We expect men to lead and assert themselves, and we encourage and reward these behaviors when young boys exhibit them.

So why is it when a young girl exhibits these exact same characteristics, we often resort to a different word to describe her behavior? A word that says to young girls: These are not the behaviors we expect from you.

Why do we call her “bossy”?


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