Let’s take a look at how over-defining ourselves can diminish what we’re trying to accomplish
By Emma Hynek
Chances are, you’ve heard many ways to describe a woman in the business world: boss lady, girl boss, and one that was new to me, fempreneur.
An article published in Entrepreneur magazine by Joy Youell explains the term “fempreneur” by saying, “Self-defined ‘fempreneurs’ are female business owners who occupy an increasing share of businesses ranging from startups to global brands.”
Why do we, as women, need to call ourselves something different when we do the same thing as a man?
Youell goes on, “… ‘fempreneurs’ are bold, intense and vying for a seat where decisions are made. These women appear to be passionate about leadership roles and freedom, which begs the question: Why self-define according to gender at all?”
While the concepts behind titles like fempreneur and girl boss are intended to promote the accomplishments of women in business, they often do the opposite.
The use of these terms creates a culture of sexism and gender-based segregation, suggesting that a woman who does the same job as a man, no matter how well she does it, will never be granted the same recognition as her male counterparts because she is a woman. Using additional gender descriptors may actually imply that it’s so uncommon for a woman to be holding a position of corporate power that the job needs an entirely different title.
There are already imbalances between men and women in the workplace. Men are often automatically assumed to be the person in charge. They are paid more. Women are often expected to soften their leadership qualities and defer to the man in the room. Creating a separate category of titles for women only adds to these existing asymmetries by mitigating the power typically associated with titles like “boss” so that it is more acceptable and fitting for a woman.
At Boss Talk, our mantra is that a boss is a boss.
A female boss does not have a different job description than a male boss because she is a woman. Women are just as qualified – often more qualified – to do the same job a man does in the same setting. Let’s not dilute that by feminizing our titles. Our accomplishments, dedication and work ethic are not automatically of lesser value than those of men just because we are women.
There is a certain sense of pride that comes from being a woman in power in a traditionally male-dominated workforce or working at a female-led business. Let’s continue to normalize utilizing our strengths to their fullest extent at work instead of, as Youell writes, creating a new playing field so that society is more comfortable.
“The goal is not to change from a man’s world to a woman’s world or to carve out a niche of female entrepreneurship in which women can win. The goal is to create a world of equal opportunity, in which talent wins out, and everyone is judged on performance alone,” Youell concludes.
Bottom line, a boss is a person in charge, no matter their gender. We do not need to clarify what kind of boss, entrepreneur or CEO we are. We are, simply, boss.