Reflecting on International Women's Day this year I've been seeing lots of "Girl Boss", "Female Founder" and "Female CEO" articles and posts, and it got me wondering, do we still need to call out the "girl" or "female"?
Aren't we leaders, founders and CEOs, just like the boys?
Don't get me wrong, we need to celebrate women and work hard to bust through all forms of glass ceilings, that much is crystal clear. And perhaps using terms like "Female Founder" has been necessary to highlight the issues we face so we can create change.
But ultimately, we want to be treated as equals, right? Could continuing to highlight inequality through the terms we use be subtly propagating that inequality?
Take sport, for example. There's "Footy", and then there's "Female Footy". And that makes sense in a domain where men and women play separately, but if women's sport was honestly viewed as equal to men's sport, wouldn't it be Men's Footy and Women's Footy? There's Men's Tennis and Women's Tennis and plenty of other examples of where the language has changed to reflect an underlying sense of equality.
And then, in business, there is no female league and we're in it with the blokes.
Obviously men and women have some differences worth analysing, and on the average across the full bell curve, men and women tend to have different personality traits. Understanding these is relevant in a business setting because some traits of both men and women can be advantageous or detrimental (or both) to success.
For example, according to literature, women are on the average more agreeable which may mean we don't tend to push as hard for promotions and raises. But being more agreeable may also mean we're, on the average, better at helping people and building positive relationships which may mean women are more likely to be better leaders. In fact, on average women are rated as more competent on almost every dimension of leadership by their colleagues.
But, I am an individual with my own unique strengths and weaknesses. Those strengths and weaknesses may or may not have anything to do with my gender. It actually doesn't matter where they come from and it doesn't matter what's true for the average, or where I sit on a bell curve. All that matters is what value I can add as a human being, not as a woman.
And to be successful in business, you need to know what you're good at and where you need support. You can't do it alone, you need good people around you.
We need all types of people in work and business. We need introverts and extroverts, creatives and organisers, etc etc. It doesn't matter about gender, race, religion, skin colour, or anything other than what value you can bring.
So, there is no "female business", there's only business.
We're in the same league, ladies.
Libby is the co-founder of Beauty Food. She's also founder of The Upbeat (Bondi-based training community for women), co-founder of Earthletica (sustainable activewear), co-founder of Nurture 360, and proud mum of two.