- Sarah Kimball
The Problem with "Girlboss" Culture
What is a girlboss? While people use this term to talk about empowered women in the corporate world or successful women who run their own companies, this term does not empower women at all. The problem with girlboss culture is that it sends the message that women can’t be “bosses,” they need to be called “girlbosses” because the the corporate world is only a place for men.
Calling a female CEO a “girlboss” is kind of like saying a girl can’t use a hammer unless it’s small, pink, and is really more of a display piece than it is a construction tool. Girlboss culture diminishes the authority of women, and it’s meant to keep women in places of oppression while simultaneously claiming female empowerment is at hand.
The reality is, we don’t need to put “girl” in front of the word boss when a woman is in charge because not only can women be bosses, but there should be more female bosses in the world, period. We shouldn’t be changing corporate terms to be more “cutesy” for women. Instead, we need to fight against the patriarchy that tells women the corporate world isn’t a place for them.
The problem with girlboss culture extends beyond word choice. It is rooted in a variety of patriarchal beliefs that enforce the idea that men are superior to women. It is also rooted in the sexism present in the workplace which includes but is not limited to the way women are underpaid, harassed, talked down to, and thought of as lesser than their male colleagues.
Girlboss culture is also an example of internalized sexism. While the women who typically use this term have good intentions to discuss the successes of strong women, it is ultimately demeaning to call female executives, "girlbosses." We should be empowered to know that we are worthy of being “bosses” alone. Unfortunately, we have lived in a world where we are taught we are lesser than men, and we must constantly fight against the structures in place telling us we are not worthy.
I personally see internalized sexism play out in my workplace when I witness myself and other female employees using minimizing language. Words such as “kind of,” “you know,” and “sort of,” undermine women’s confidence and authority. Not to mention, women also apologize more than men, and say sorry when they should feel empowered to speak up and stand their ground.
Here’s to empowered women standing up for themselves, being incredible bosses and not letting the patriarchy get them down. To hear from empowered women doing just that, listen to the Ignited by Inner Beauty podcast.