An Australian entrepreneur and marketing expert is taking a stand against the term #girlboss. The phrase exploded after American fashion startup founder Sophia Amoruso used it as the title of her “Lean In for misfits” memoir, which became a bestseller. But Franziska Iseli told the Sydney Morning Herald that she’s tired of seeing #girlboss pop up as a hashtag at her speaking events.
Iseli says she dislikes the term because it glosses over the difficulties of being a businesswoman.
“It almost portrays a false image of what it means to be a leader, or a female entrepreneur; it makes it look easy… I think it’s important we celebrate women but also celebrate the ups and down…and [admit] we make mistakes,” she said.
Iseli also says the gender definer is not necessary. “We don’t say ‘girl employee’ or ‘girl teacher,’ so why do we need to justify ourselves with this title,” she says.
On that point, Iseli is in line with other high-profile women who are fed up with the use of gendered adjectives in the workplace. Women at Google held “Lady Day” to protest a shareholder referring to CFO Ruth Porat as “the lady CFO.” The tongue-in-cheek demonstration saw male and female employees temporarily change their titles to reflect their sex, such as “Lady Creative Engineer.” Nike and Serena Williams, meanwhile, made a powerful statement by doing just the opposite; airing an ad that removed the word “female” from a phrase characterizing the tennis star as the “greatest female athlete ever.”
The words “women” or “female” are often used as a way to recognize the accomplishments of women who operate in workplaces and a wider world where they are not treated as men’s equals, but Iseli, for one, is over having her achievements qualified this way.