On the March 8 episode of the podcast Girlboss Radio, called “Sophia Amoruso is passing the torch,” the original #girlboss and founder of Girlboss Media was asked if she thought that this term was still relevant today. Amoruso described how the idea of a “girlboss” had become synonymous with white feminism — with her as its figurehead.
“Girlboss became wrapped up in the 2020s,” she explained, “kind of like a changing of the guard… like, we’ve heard enough of [white women’s voices]. Let’s make some room for other voices. I want to do that. I can help amplify those voices.
“It’s time to pass the torch of Girlboss to women of colour and I’ll go do my thing.”
Renouncing her role at Girlboss Media and pivoting towards creating a gender-neutral brand she calls Business Class, Amoruso did what she needed to do to salvage her former brand while reinventing her next one.
“It’s the first non-gendered brand I’ve ever made and, even though it’s mostly women taking it, I’m so happy that it’s not gendered,” she said.
As we’ve come to codify it, so-called “female” leadership has gone through an existential crisis in 2020, with audiences disillusioned by white, cisgender, able-bodied girlboss stereotypes taking up space in office politics or on our social media feeds.
Even if you’re not running a gendered brand or company, there’s a good chance that you’ve also fallen into the trap of using dated and harmful gender clichés when talking about leadership.
To avoid irking your employees and an audience that’s become fed up with the girlboss and bossbabe boilerplate style and brand of leadership, here’s how to adjust your representation of women leaders in 2021.
Drop the cutesy monikers
Whether it’s “femmetrepreneur” or “She-E-O,” the mashup of gendered words and business terms have a harmful underlying message: that women leaders are really just girl versions of a guy thing.
Avoid these terms wherever possible, particularly in your titles and captions. There are many ways to boost your content’s performance without recycling tired stereotypes.
Dismantle feminine exceptionalism
The idea that there can only be one woman on the team is a familiar one. From the Pink Power Ranger to Skye, the pilot dog in PAW Patrol, it’s drilled into our collective unconscious from childhood. But no one has ever completed an MBA to become a corporate Smurfette.
Until your employees, board and management team are balanced, avoid celebrating the ascent of the one token woman on a team. Do not use their gender or race as a marketing angle, either. Not only is this exploitative, it perpetuates the idea that a woman is an exception — and has to be exceptional to earn a seat at the table.
Happy international women’s day! Just your reminder that IWD was started by socialist women. It is an inherently anti-capitalist holiday so stop celebrating imperialist women, CEOs and pandering to girl boss feminism. IWD is not a marketing strategy or brand.
— ♡ (@bountay_) March 8, 2021