Girlboss, ladyboss, mompreneur, bossbabe. Each of these isms (and uber popular hashtags) has served their purpose, and now need to be on their merry way. Why?
Because adding girl/lady/mom/babe as a qualifier implies the actual word belongs to a man.
And that simply is not true.
In 2018 I spoke on an International Women’s Day panel in Toronto, shoulder to shoulder with the bad ass women behind Mary Young, Platform Media, Shopify, and “girlboss” – and how each panelist felt about the term – came up as a subject of conversation. Had it been relevant at one point? A resounding yes. Is it relevant still? Maybe not.
Yes, “girl boss” – and everything associated with it – served a purpose. A rallying purpose. A forward momentum purpose. A staking claim on our territory purpose. A taking up space and making it our own purpose. And the metrics show that it worked.
Do a quick Google search of “female entrepreneurs in Canada” and you’ll see without question that an increasing number of businesses are led and owned by women, particularly young women. A Salesforce survey conducted in 2018, The New Canadian Entrepreneurial Experience: Women and the Future of Small Business in Canada, revealed that one third of Canadian entrepreneurs are women: 53% of female business owners are under age 45, and 27% are under age 35.
With over half of these businesses being five years old or less, women have made massive strides (in a short period of time) not only pulling up a seat at the table, but building the table they want to sit at.
By continuing to use language that qualifies “boss” or “entrepreneur” with a feminine prefix, it feels like we are not taking those strides seriously enough. It almost feels like we are setting ourselves back a bit; it feels a little too cutesy, and slightly demeaning or marginalizing to keep pace with the force of fourth wave feminism, and conveys the opinion that we still need to qualify words that were previously held court as being male-centric.
Confidence, camaraderie, mentorship – heck, branding – is important if not crucial in building something new, but once it’s built, live in it. Embrace, dwell, own, and lean into it without needing to revisit the origin story over and over. Using “girlboss” as part of our lexicon to describe women in business in 2019 feels more like that 90’s image of all five Spice Girls huddled together in costume shouting “girl power!” (you know the one) than it does a symbol of confidence, camaraderie, mentorship, and strategic branding.
Women in business, female entrepreneurs, and women with children who also work outside the home understand at their core the constant dance of soft and fierce, push and pull; the blend of work and life, the triage of priorities that are all top priorities. Labeling the work we do, the roles we play, the hats we wear, the needs we fill with “lady,” “girl,” “mom,” or “babe” attached diminishes the legitimacy of that work, and what it took to make it happen.
@leissewilcox on social
Leisse Wilcox is a life + success coach who works with women one on one to find the clarity in what they want, confidence in who they are, and the courage to stay true to both. A mom of twins plus one, she can be found near the water of her tiny beach-front town, or anywhere the tacos are, dreaming of an A-frame cabin in the woods.