Why we need to bury the word “MumBoss”

female mumboss ladyboss

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.

Just that.

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!” 

Ugh.

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?

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

15 Comments

  1. 2nd October 2016 / 6:31 pm

    I actually have no idea where #MumBoss came from but it makes me cringe and you have put my cringe into words and explained exactly why I don’t like it so much. Also, they don’t really use #MyLifeIsBetterThanYours do they?! WHO would use that?! Definitely one I won’t be looking up!
    Donna recently posted..London From Above By Night {The Ordinary Moments}My Profile

    • 4th October 2016 / 10:21 am

      Thanks Donna – no, I was being a bit sarcastic about #MyLifeisBetter, it’s just my reflex when I see those photos!

  2. 2nd October 2016 / 8:49 pm

    Ha! I could not agree more. It makes me cringe so much when I see #MumBoss. Oh my, I couldn’t quite believe the #MyLifeIsBetterThanYours but I just looked up the hashtag on Instagram. What on earth is wrong with these people???

    • 4th October 2016 / 10:21 am

      Ha! Compulsive showing off, it’s a modern epidemic!

  3. 2nd October 2016 / 9:05 pm

    Yes, you took the words right out of my mouth, and wrote them far better than I ever could. I would never have called myself #MumManager in my last job, it would have been completely ridiculous. I think Flea put it very well, s she always does
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted..Geek Date Ideas (When You Are Not A Geek!)My Profile

    • 4th October 2016 / 10:22 am

      Kids are smart, eh?

  4. 4th October 2016 / 8:06 am

    I hadn’t really thought about it in relation to men, but the reason #mumboss has always made me feel a little bit blurgh is because, to me, by giving something a cool status, you brush the really hard work under the carpert. Making it look simply aspirational, when we all know that trying to set up your own business around young children is far from simple or an easy way out. I’d like to hear more conversation on how parents in business are juggling their childcare and the things that have had to adapt in order to fit in a business around the kids, rather than just the ‘cool’ label being the main focus.
    Chloe (Sorry About The Mess) recently posted..Life with Baby O at two and three monthsMy Profile

    • 4th October 2016 / 10:24 am

      That’s a really interesting point, Chloe, I hadn’t looked at it that way.

  5. 5th October 2016 / 9:22 am

    Looool well good job I haven’t used this one because I just thought it meant like.. “I’m a kick booty mum” but as always there’s something a little more deep lying beneath it. I mean not that I would use it it’s abit like tooting your own horn either way…and well that not quite me either!!!

    This post was hilarious, totally uplifting on a Wednesday morning!!!

  6. 5th October 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Ugh yes, that. I also hate it. May I also suggest “How to [tie your shoelaces for example] LIKE A BOSS” should be thrown into room 101. Along with mumpreneur. We were sitting down to dinner the other day and my daughter mentioned that her friend had hurt herself and had to see the school doctor. My husband asked her if it was a male or female and on hearing that it was a female he uttered the phrase “It was probably a nurse then”. OMFG why did I marry him??? Thank goodness our cutlery is all blunt my tongue wouldn’t have been the only thing he’d got the sharp end of.
    Plutonium Sox recently posted..Teletubbies Magazine – ReviewMy Profile

  7. 6th October 2016 / 2:59 pm

    I thought it was just me that felt the whole ‘Mum Boss’ thing is completely cringe worthy. If equality is what we want, then constantly separating ourselves with these terms is really not the right way to go about it. I wouldn’t want to be judged for solely for being a woman in a negative or a positive way.

    Stevie
    A Cornish Mum recently posted..What You Can do to Make Your Children Safer TonightMy Profile

  8. 16th June 2017 / 12:56 pm

    Totally mumagree. It makes me want to mumvom

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