Can we please, for the love of ALL that is holy, stop referring to ourselves as a #MumBoss?
I say #Mumboss, because #Mumboss (like GirlBoss and LadyBoss) is one of those words that was surely spawned on social media. It’s very big on Instagram, along with #Instamom and #MyLifeIsBetterThanYours.
Saying you’re a #MumBoss sounds empowering, doesn’t it? Look at me, being a Mum and kicking ass at work. I’m a modern, sassy, professional woman. Go, me!
I get it. I really do. Having my daughter is the single best thing ever to have happened to me. She inspires and drives almost everything I do, professionally and personally. Being a parent and working as well? It’s tough. So kudos to us, when we do it well.
So yeah, it makes sense (sort of).
Right up until you start looking for all the #DadBoss photos.
Cause they don’t exist.
Men are bosses. Men are entrepreneurs. It’s just us women who are given special terms to indicate that yes, we have a job, but let’s not forget we also have breasts!
Terms like #MumBoss and #LadyBoss belittle and marginalise women in the workplace. They conjure up images of women who are somehow remarkable for managing to combine their biology AND paid employment. Like, aren’t we inspiring for holding down a job and coping with breasts and babies?
Give me a break.
“Lighten up, it’s just a phrase,” you might say.
But is it?
What message do we give our daughters when we tell them that their identity in business is inextricably tied to their gender? That while a man in a professional role is judged by his performance in that role, a woman in a professional role is somehow different because there are “female” values attached to what she does?
A report released recently by the US consulting firm McKinsey & Co found that for every 100 women promoted into senior management, 130 men were promoted into similar roles.
When McKinsey looked into the reasons for this disparity, they found that women in the workplace tend not to get the tough feedback needed to improve performance. One of the key reasons for this was that male managers worried about hurting the feelings of female employees. Because who wants to be mean to their Mum or their girlfriend?
While Instagram hashtags don’t change the world, language matters.
Words like #MumBoss (and the equally depressing mumpreneur), encourage us to think of women as unable to perform roles without reference to their gender. Defining women in terms of one aspect of their lives is limiting, reductive, and patronising.
We need to teach our girls that it’s okay to be the boss. And while we’re at it, let’s throw out the stupid notion that it’s somehow unattractive, unsisterly or unfeminine if you’re competitive, or ambitious.
Let’s be strong, successful women in the workplace – who are the boss.
I’m competitive, and I’m ambitious. I work hard.
My company is reasonably successful, with six consecutive years of double digit growth.
I’m not a managing director (I’m the only director, so I’m not sure who I’d be managing) and I’m definitely not a CEO (we don’t have any other executives for me to be chief of). But I am a company founder, and the boss of a team of 15 or so people.
One thing I’m not? Is a #Mumboss.
Of course, being a Mum is hugely important to me. But it’s about as relevant to my professional status as it is to the bloke in the office upstairs, who runs a training company. Nobody’s calling him a Captain of the Nursery, or congratulating him on balancing it all. Can you imagine it?
“You’re so inspiring Steve, did having a baby make you more determined to refinance your asset funding?”
“Oh Jim, it’s incredible how you’ve managed to score five new clients this month and still get the kids to school on time!”
A few weeks ago, Flea started senior school. During her first few days, she had to complete one of those “About Me” type profile forms, with details of her favourite sports, where she lives, and her family.
Next to “My Mum:” Flea had written, “Sally Whittle, entrepreneur (I think)”
Okay, so it’s not a particularly ringing endorsement, but it sounds a lot better than #Mumboss, don’t you think?