We are gathered here today to bid a final farewell #girlboss. It’s been a fun run. She certainly had a better ring than Woman Boss. Or Female Boss. Or Lady Boss.
“But girl boss?” a friend once asked, “You mean someone who is not a grownup and is a little person?”
“No.” we had to tell her. “A grownup who is also a boss. It’s one of those zeitgeist words."
Girl boss was loved by women, looking to carve out their own space in the working world. But girl boss was especially adored by certain boss men who loved the idea that a female boss needed a cute little qualifier.
Oh, we know. The heady days of social media are upon us, and yes, there is something kitschy and catchy about #girlboss, but it’s time. Time to come up with something better. More clever, less pandering. Something that perhaps doesn’t allude to the idea that you're a limited edition Barbie doll. Would a man ever call himself a boy boss? Prob not. Unless he was a little boy. Which, cute. (And does exist as a parody skit.)
So why is boy boss a laughable parody, and girl boss is a celebrated term?
We cannot deny that girl boss was a popular lady. She struck out on her own at a young age, being a girl and all. She was never an outstanding student but she excelled at social media. She saw a lot of her lifetime: over a million Instagram hashtags, a book cover— she even got embroidered on the back of a jacket or two.
Her finest quality was her universal appeal. She made it easier to talk about being a female boss. She was less offensive, less aggressive, but at the same time, reminded us that there were limitations to our success. Oh, no no, she seemed to say over brunch with girlfriends, you'll never be the same as a male boss.
We believe it was boss Sarah Silverman who said something along the lines of ‘stop telling girls they can be whatever they want to be, it never would have occurred to them that they couldn’t, had you not.
Girls can be anything. Including bosses. We need to look in the mirror, realize we’re women, and understand the sociocultural implications of our semantics and choices. Or, something like that. Because in the last 60 years the number of people who would prefer a female boss has never gone above 25%. And the percentage of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies is stuck at 5%.
Yet, women in the workforce today are starting their careers more educated than males, and account for half of the workforce in the United States. So let's drop the girl act.
Starbucks has genderless bathrooms. And Zara released an ungendered collection on St. Patrick’s Day. If Starbucks can do it, so can we.
May she forever remain a child in our hearts and a boss in our head. As with all things feather rib tattoos, septum piercings, and Brendan Fraser, it’s adieu, adieu, adieu. We’re just gonna be the boss from now on.
RIP. Rest in Pandering.
P.S. We forgot to mention, Hillary Clinton’s book #girlPresident comes out October 2020.
JK. NOT HAPPENING.
Arianna Schioldager is Create & Cultivate's editorial director. You can find her on IG @ariannawrotethis and more about her at www.ariannawrotethis.com