“You’re such a boy boss”. Imagine for a moment dropping that line to someone you respect and want to encourage. I hazard a guess that most people would find it funny at best; patronising, bizarre or offensive at worst.
I do love the spirit with which ‘girl boss’ is often said. It has a sense of comradery, excitement and the will to cheer others on. However, I can’t help but feel it is undermined by the implication that a female boss is somehow a caricature of a ‘real’ boss.
Putting your foot in it
Many years back when starting out my creative communications career in the corporate world, I had a role where I’d often operate cameras and edit content. One day I was asked by a well meaning [boy] boss, “How does your partner feel about you doing this kind of work?”. I’d often watch male colleagues squirm as they watched me organise the heavy duty tech equipment that I knew back-to-front. Well-meaning offers of help would often result in things like my hand accidentally being shut in a collapsed tripod [ouch]. In another professional setting I once spoke up to question why the series of expert masterclasses we were producing had no female speakers. The genuine response I received was along the lines of “That would be so great. But what would they talk about?”.
Sometimes people don’t mean well, but most of the time I think they really do, or at least they don’t have bad intentions. So, I’m not mad, and I’m not interested in policing political correctness, but I do think genuine reflection that leads us to speak to one another in more honestly empowering ways, could make a world of difference.
At the end of the day I’m so grateful for the career path that I’ve had so far, where more often than not I’ve been given incredible opportunities to be in positions of leadership, to be creative, respected, and a specialist in my area with a strong voice. I’m grateful for the many people that have cheered me on, and the helping hands that have guided me through. At times I have witnessed other women not be so lucky, but for me, it seems my gender has largely been seen as an advantage, not a problem. So, at this point, I’d really love to be just called a
It’s not an equal playing field for all
Don’t get me wrong though, I appreciate the context that we are emerging from, and that many around the world are still very much in: where women are not seen as bosses. But in the interest of moving us all forward, taking ourselves seriously and creating cultures where difference of gender is appreciated but valued equally, perhaps we could simply say, “You’re such a boss”.
I’m Rachel Hogan, Producer-Director at Rocket Productions in Sydney Australia, I’m not married to my ideas. Please feel free to change my mind or just add your thoughts into the mix.