Erica Johnson-Cook

Why we must stop calling assertive girls ‘feisty’

Assertive girls are often labelled for expressing strong opinions but you wouldn’t dream of calling a boy ‘plucky’ or ‘sassy’, says Erica Johnson-Cook

Why we must stop calling assertive girls ‘feisty’

A teacher once told my mother that I was too assertive. My mother replied: “How can you be too assertive?” Clearly, the apple had not fallen far from the tree.

I went to school in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pupils were not permitted to challenge teachers and we certainly didn’t question their decisions. Thankfully, over time, the rights of children have become more protected and a culture of openness has developed in schools.

Today, teachers encourage children to share their views and help them to learn how to express them appropriately. But is that expression granted and received ...

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