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International Women's Day 2020: A candid interview with our founder, Liz Cook

#EachforEqual

"An equal world is an enabled world.

Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world."

 

We talk to Liz Cook, One Seed founder, entrepreneur and mother about how her upbringing shaped her thinking about gender stereotypes, and why she hates the hashtag #girlboss.

 

Tell us about your upbringing; what impact did having three brothers have on your view of yourself as a female, and on your feeling about your place in the world?

I was the 3rd child and the only girl of the four of us, which was both a blessing and a challenge. My brothers certainly treated me as an equal in many ways - they gave me as much grief as they gave eachother so I was trained to be tough! But being Daddy's little girl meant that my dad -who was very old-school - taught me that some jobs weren't meant for girls - like mowing lawns and heavy lifting. And when it came to going out on adventures I would most often be left at home with my mum while the boys went by themselves. And of course there was the standard line when I had my hair pulled or I was being teased at the dinner table - "They're just being boys; take it as a joke." It wasn't intentionally segregated or stereotyped - my Dad was trying to protect me and treat me like I was special, and prepare me for the "real world". But for me being raised that way made me more determined to to everything the boys could do. I hated (and even more now) the gendered stereotypes.

At home as an adult I have never shied away from doing anything my husband could do, and now as a solo parent I have no trouble taking care of all of the jobs at home, including patching holes in the wall, paving, and cleaning gutters thanks very much!

 

We heard you hate the term Girl Boss - why is that?

Yep, don't ever use that term around me! I will never call myself a Girl Boss - I'm just a boss. Girl Boss infers being a boss and a woman is some type of novelty. I'm no circus monkey. Good female bosses are just as much bosses as good male bosses. And I can't stand the idea that to be a good female boss you have to be a b*tch. That is simply untrue and a stereotype that creates more bias and inequality. 

To me being a boss is about having self-control, strong values and principles, knowing yourself and what you believe in, and leading people in a fair, honest and caring manner. I don't have to have a bad reputation to be a strong boss. I refuse to take on that stereotype.

PS I also don't like the term male nurse - to me that also shows some type of inferiority. A nurse is a nurse, man or woman. It's unhelpful to refer to someone as a male this or a female that. It's pretty clear whether they are a male or female - do we really need to stipulate the gender with the job?

 

How do you, as a boss, a leader and a mother, challenge stereotypes and improve gender equality?

For me it's about leading by example and making everyone around me feel capable - male or female. I just don't think of anything as being a female task or a male task. To me, a better world is one where everyone is taught to be strong, fair, accountable, kind, empathetic and responsible. There are times that require more strength and times that require more gentleness, and we should equip our children and our team for both. But we also need to acknowledge the fact that some people are physically built and emotionally developed to be better at some roles than others. Not everyone can be a boss, not everyone can be a builder, not everyone can be a lawyer. And only women have bodies designed for the privilege of baring children. I think a society that promotes equality firstly acknowledges those facts, and then empowers anyone who wants to step up. 

 

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