Many of us know her. She’s always cheerful, quick to provide professional and personal advice, frequently brings in homemade goodies, and is everyone’s shoulder to lean on. And now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal as of about a month and a half ago, she has joined the illustrious likes of the office gossip, the office grump, the office clown, and many more. She is the “office mom”; the mother hen of the white collar world, and the latest addition to a long list of office stereotypes – and specifically female stereotypes based on women in the workplace.
In honour of Mother’s Day this month, let’s take a more critical lens to the so-called office mom who, as The Wall Street Journal notes, may not even necessarily be an actual mother. Despite that, however, every office mom out there earned that title by embodying all the wonderful characteristics associated with motherliness: compassion, attention, and affection. She’s the warm ray of sunshine in an otherwise cold corporate slough. So what’s wrong with that? As female stereotypes go, especially surrounding women in the workplace, is that not a welcome foil to the high-powered “wicked witch”? Or, like the wicked witch, is the office mom simply today’s version of a Shakespearean archetype, plodding through the same tired plot in which all powerful women are definitively evil, and all good women are innately weak?