Patnaude Coaching

What’s with the Cutesy Names?


I enjoy some motivational quotes (not all). I’ve noticed the appearance of female-themed “boss” paraphernalia in stores that sell that kind of thing. Most of it is pink, which is not a color in my palette. Aside from the color issue, the sayings made me uneasy in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And then I read this post on LinkedIn that put into words what I was struggling to.

“I’m not a boss babe. I’m not a girl boss. I’m not a “She”EO. I’m not a mom-preneur. I’m the CEO and co-founder of a successful, fast-growing SaaS company and have the honor of leading an incredible team of talented humans.
…And I am a woman.
Can we stop with the cutesy names for women leaders? It doesn’t lift us up or help shatter any glass ceilings. Quite the contrary, actually.
Recognizing and encouraging diversity (not just women) in leadership? ABSOLUTELY.
Using cute names for the people in those roles? Let’s be done with that.”

(Credit to Lindsay Tjepkema, who I do not know, but whose post I saw because she’s a connection of a connection.)

I LOVE this summary. It’s part of what I have felt but not been able to articulate clearly. To have to qualify the title of “boss” or “owner” or “CEO” by gender or any other qualifying term is insulting.

We humans don’t do a good job yet collectively at selecting qualified people for roles based on their qualifications alone. We have a lot of unconscious bias and plain old ignorance to work through still. So I’m not suggesting we pretend not to notice or care about diversity of all kinds in leadership, Boards, and elected positions. Far from it.

What I am suggesting, along with Ms. Tjepkema, is that we stop adding these “feminine touches” to our titles. We’ve worked for our titles, for our degrees, for our qualifications, and for our positions. Honor the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into our achievements. But do it without changing the title to reflect my gender. Please.

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