这个观点或许有一定道理。伦敦商学院（London Business School）教授组织行为学的加布里埃尔•亚当斯反问：“‘专横’这个词为什么不好？难道因为它总是用在女性身上，所以带上了负面的涵义？还是因为它有着负面涵义，才被用于形容强势的女性？”她表示，无论是哪种，这个词都在暗示：“有人接受或行使着他们无权享有的权力。他们已经踩过界了。”
Dear Annie: A little band of women in my office (including me) have been talking about Sheryl Sandberg's campaign to get people to stop calling girls "bossy" when they show leadership traits that would be praised for boys, and we're curious about what you and your readers think. I have been called "bossy" all my life, starting when I was just a kid, right up through performance evaluations at my last employer.
Maybe I'm super sensitive about this, because I don't see myself as bossy, just firm and demanding, the same as my male colleagues. Now, my daughter is getting called bossy by her volleyball teammates, which really bugs me. On the other hand, some women here say that being called bossy is just one of those negative stereotypes we should learn to ignore and rise above. Your thoughts, please? -- Not Bossy, Just the Boss
Dear N.B.J.B.: Your signature sounds like what Beyonce said in her TV ads for Sandberg's crusade ("I'm not bossy. I'm the boss."), a series of spots that also featured Condoleezza Rice and actress Jennifer Garner and kicked off a brief storm of controversy in the press last month. The thinking behind banning "bossy" -- and the reason the effort is co-sponsored by the Girl Scouts of the United States -- is that calling girls like your daughter, but not boys, "bossy" discourages female kids from developing the leadership skills they'll need to succeed as adults.
There's probably some truth to that. "Why is 'bossy' always bad?" asks Gabrielle Adams, who teaches organizational behavior at the London Business School. "Does it have a negative connotation because it's always applied to women? Or is 'bossiness' ascribed to strong women because it's negative?" Either way, she says, the word implies that "someone is assuming, or exercising, authority they're not entitled to. They're overstepping their bounds."
When London Business School asked 2,218 women managers if the word had ever been applied to them, 54% said they'd been called bossy at some point, or at more than one point, in their careers.
"A man showing the same traits would probably be called decisive or powerful instead," Adams notes. She points to years of research by Princeton University psychology professor Susan Fiske showing that, while men can be considered both likable and competent, women are perceived as less likable the more competent they are.
"A woman who is a strong leader is violating what people may regard as 'normal' feminine behavior, which is submissive and self-effacing," says Adams. "That can be unsettling or even threatening, which is why 'bossy' carries such a load of hostility."
So how should women respond? "You can certainly call someone on it if they call you that, and explain why you hold the opinion or take the approach" that earned you the epithet, Adams says. "But that just means that women have to spend more time and energy defending themselves, and justifying their behavior, than men do."
Or do they? Here's where it gets a lot less clear. Nancy Friedberg, a longtime executive coach and president of Career Leverage, often gets called in to large companies to work with male senior managers who "don't get called 'bossy,' but their colleagues do complain that they're 'abrasive' or 'arrogant' or even 'bullying.' It's the same behavior, just described in different terms." (Her favorite HR euphemism for domineering male bosses is "rough around the edges.")
Whether the difficult person in question is male or female, Friedberg says, the coaching method is the same: Figure out how and why this manager has gotten co-workers' hackles up, and help him or her to alter the offending behavior.
"The most effective leaders of either sex can be assertive and strong while still being respectful," Friedberg says. "They can point out problems and mistakes while still leaving others' dignity intact. Whether you're male or female, being highly controlling or judgmental is what's seen as 'bossy' or 'abrasive' -- and it's not a leadership style that works well for anybody."