Those in power dictate the norm, while the less powerful are left with qualifiers

Manboss, Papapreneur, Boyboss, HeEO

How weird do those words sound describing a male entrepreneur? 

Yet we are so accustomed to labels describing a female entrepreneur such as a Girlboss, a Bossbitch, a Ladyboss, a SheEO.

I’ve been called these words and naively accepted them because they felt powerful, and let’s face it, female leaders in corporate/business settings were rare.  

These labels perpetuate harmful stereotypes

Embracing labels like “Girlboss” and “SheEO” was once my way of celebrating our journey as female entrepreneurs. I believed they exuded strength and resilience, hoping they would inspire other women in business. We saw them as symbols of our triumph breaking through gender stereotypical barriers.

Research published in the journal Gender & Society found that words like “leader,” “executive,” and “boss” are more strongly associated with male attributes like assertiveness and independence. So one can understand the need for a new label, or atleast the need for change.

However, as time passed, I realised that these words did not reflect our true ambition or acknowledge our achievements. Instead, they perpetuated harmful stereotypes and undermined womens’ worth. By uncritically adopting this “Girlboss” culture, we inadvertently played into the hands of patriarchal norms, reducing feminism to a mere marketing gimmick. It was disheartening to see empowerment reduced to a superficial badge rather than a genuine celebration of our accomplishments.

Language shapes our perceptions

The concept of a “Girlboss” was nothing more than a superficial facade, masking the true substance of our work. We were complicit in diminishing the significance of our achievements by subscribing to these labels. Language shapes our perceptions, and it was evident that these terms only served to highlight our gender, rather than our capabilities.

It became clear to me that men are afforded the luxury of being seen as the default, while women are constantly required to qualify their status. Terms like “Boyboss,” “Bossbro,” or “Papapreneur” are unthinkable, highlighting the inherent bias in our language. 

Doctors, Scientists, Lawyers were traditionally considered male dominated professions. However, advancements in gender equality and changes in societal attitudes have led to a significant increase in the number of females in those professions, challenging gender stereotypes and promoting greater diversity.  Now it no longer feels necessary to describe a lawyer or doctor with a feminine pre-fix. 

As Gloria Steinem aptly said, those in power dictate the norm, while the less powerful are left with qualifiers.

It’s time to reclaim our narrative and demand recognition based on the merit of our work, not on gendered labels. We are founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs—plain and simple. 

Lets not reinforce gender stereotypes by adding pronouns to professions that should be gender-neutral to begin with.

Our success should speak for itself, without the need for feminine labels or gendered hashtags. 

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