ABC

NEW YORK-Can putting a ban on one school-yard word really change the way people think? Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (along with countless other familiar faces) says yes.

ABC News reports Sandberg, also the author of “Lean In,” is leading the charge to ban the word “bossy,” saying the negative word keeps girls from pursuing roles in leadership.

“We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead,” Sandberg said, “and if you ask girls why they don’t want to lead, whether it’s the school project all the way on to running for office, they don’t want to be called bossy, and they don’t want to be disliked.”

Sandberg said these patterns begin when kids are young and can continue into their grown-up lives.

“We call girls bossy on the playground,” Sandberg said. “We call them too aggressive or other B-words in the workplace. They’re bossy as little girls, and then they’re aggressive, political, shrill, too ambitious as women.”

Sandberg’s organization, Lean In, is teaming up with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez. They’re launching the public service campaign, “Ban Bossy,” which gives tips for parents, kids, teachers and others on how to push young women to embrace their desire to lead.

“Imagine a classroom in America where 50 kids are present: 25 girls, 25 boys,” Chávez said.

“And the teacher walks into this classroom and says: ‘Boys and girls, I have this really hard, difficult program that I need to solve that’s gonna impact this country.’ She writes the problem on the board and then turns around and escorts 24 of the 25 girls out of the room. ... She leaves one girl and 25 boys to solve that equation. That’s what’s happening every day in this country. Why wouldn’t we want more girls to be opting in to building the right solutions this country?”

The main mission of the campaign is to help females of all ages feel more confident and comfortable in leadership roles.

“I was called bossy when I was in ninth grade,” Sandberg recalled. “My teacher took my best friend Mindy aside and she said, ‘You shouldn’t be friends with Sheryl. She’s bossy.’ And that hurt.”

Sandberg said she and other women leaders have been able to rise above those taunts, but many girls can’t.

“If you look at the world, women do 66 percent of the work in the world. Woman produce 50 percent of the food. Women make 10 percent of the income and women own 1 percent of the property. We are 50 percent of the population. We are 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs,” Sandberg said. “We are 17 percent of the board seats. We are 19 percent in Congress. That’s not enough for 50 percent of the population. We live in a world that is overwhelming run and owned by men.”

The ladies were quick to clear up the fact that they are not encouraging rude, mean-girl behavior or bullying.

“Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression,” Sandberg said. “Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.”