Up until a few months ago, I loved using the term GirlBoss or better yet, BossBabe. I felt empowered and thought I was empowering others. I never understood why someone would think otherwise... until I dwelled on it. You don't really see men calling each other "DudeBoss" or "BoyBoss" do you? It sounds a little ridiculous, doesn't it? Maybe even immature?
For men, it's just Boss, CEO, Visionary. They use the terms they feel they are entitled to. I started to realize that the language I was using was working against the very seat I was fighting for. I wanted to be treated with the same respect as my male counterparts yet I myself am using terms like "girl" or "babe" to define the type of boss I am. A female under the age of 14 is generally referred to as a girl and after the age of 14 we refer to a female as a young woman. You see the number one problem is that women are NOT girls. Terms like GirlBoss, BossBabe and even SHEO, are undermining our intelligence. We are contradicting ourselves when asking for pay equality, a seat at the table and then in turn referring to ourselves as "girls." How we present ourselves matters when trying to break through the glass ceiling.
Back in my corporate days, I remember the CEO once referred to me as "kiddo." I was taken aback as a 25-year-old woman. Yes, I was young but by no means was I a child. I earned my career and worked hard for it. Referring to oneself as a girl - is the same thing as "kiddo".
The language we use today can also affect our tomorrow. When I was 6-years-old I told my teacher I wanted to be the boss - and drew a pretty masculine version of myself. When I was 12, my science teacher told us to draw a scientist as an experiment... most of us drew men. When he asked why, we were all silent; it was something we did unknowingly. This is why representation matters. At a young age, I only associated men as bosses and the same goes for my science teacher's little social experiment. By changing our language we are working towards shifting representation for the generations to come. Words give power and when we use the wrong language we are feeding into the norm that women are not good enough to be bosses, scientists or have positions of power.
Terms like this only feed into lack of representation, imposter syndrome and self-doubt. I recently worked on a project with a male counterpart who has a similar career path to mine. The other day I looked at his email signature...his title read: CEO & Visionary. I was taken aback. I respect this person, however, I've been in the industry longer, have more experience and education, yet I am scared to write the same title in my email signature because I don't want to come across as too aggressive or unapproachable. These are thoughts that never crossed his mind. He was entitled to feel like a boss - the end. I discussed this with him and he admitted everything I stated above was true and couldn't fathom why I would feel undeserving of my rightful title.
An engineer is an engineer, an accountant is an accountant, a lawyer is a lawyer and so a boss is a boss - there is no feminine or masculine version. By ridding ourselves of these terms we are walking in a direction where we feel worthy, empowered and equal. So let's ditch terms like GirlBoss, BossBabe, SHEO and own our power because we have earned it and have every right to be here.