Movies to Inspire Your Inner #Girlboss

If your idea of being a #girlboss was inspired by coat-tossing, back-stabbing Miranda Priestly or the bending and snapping Elle Woods, it’s time to expand your horizons. There are so many nuances to female leaders, from the challenges we face (only 10.6% of all employer firms are women-owned) to the equalities we’re constantly fighting for (gender pay gap, anyone?), ain’t nobody got time for stock characters and stereotypes. So think beyond the plucky ingénue (who wins the day and the guy – swoon) or the ball-busting bitch (who always gets her comeuppance) and check out some blockbusters, docs, indie films, classics and even a little anime to inspire your inner #girlboss.

When you’re struggling to choose between the job you love and the family you want: 

His Girl FridayGirlboss

Walter Burns: There’s been a lamp burning in the window for ya, honey… here. Hildy Johnson: Oh, I jumped out that window a long time ago.

Despite tongue-in-cheek title, this 1940’s screwball comedy with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant is surprisingly modern in its examination of gender roles and what it means to “have it all.” Yes, it has a lot of rom-com clichés, but the snappy dialogue and 40’s fashions (you thought YOUR eyebrows were on point?) make it a must-see.

When your boss is a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot: 

9 to 5Girlboss

Violet: I’m no fool. I’ve killed the boss, you think they’re not gonna fire me for a thing like that?

Hilarious hijinks ensue when three coworkers (Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin) turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss. Each of these women discover their inner #girlboss in a different way, and when they’re in charge, they mandate equal pay for equal work, institute  job sharing, and flexible hours programs and set up an onsite daycare, workplace policies that are still relevant today.

Anita Hill: “I wanted them to see the journey I’ve been through, that I’ve had a very fulfilling life. Because some thought, ‘She’s gone away. She got beaten up. Now she’s feeling sad all the time about this.’ Yet I’ve done a lot of things I’m very proud of. I’m still alive and kicking.”

Yeah, I know it’s weird to follow 9 to 5 with two docs that prove that the treatment of women in the workplace is no laughing matter. But I think these stories should be told as many times and in as many forms as possible. Anita Hill’s been trying to tell her story since 1991 when she accused the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of unwanted sexual advances during explosive Senate Hearings, that ignited a political firestorm about sexual harassment, race, power and politics that resonates even today.

The Invisible War
From The Invisible War: In several cases, unmarried female servicewomen were charged with adultery or fraternization after they reported rape or sexual assault by a married serviceman.

Twenty percent of active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted while serving. A female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.  And it isn’t just women; according to one study’s estimate, one percent of men in the military — nearly 20,000 — were sexually assaulted in 2009. The Invisible War exposes the systemic cover-up of military sex crimes, the institutions that perpetuate the problem, and its profound personal and social consequences.

When you’re company’s maternity leave policy is … less than satisfying. 

Baby Boom
Girl boss
J.C. Wiatt: “I can’t have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting.” 

Diane Keaton’s J.C. Wiatt trades her Eighties power suits for life in the country after she “inherits” a deceased relative’s baby. Learning to navigate the challenges of motherhood is much harder – and more satisfying – than she expected. It costs her high-powered job and her boyfriend, but she replaces both on her own terms. All movies about work-life balance should be this spot on.

When you have to fight the good fight. 

Sisters in Law
Girl Boss

From Sisters in Law: The men are going to get the message now. 

In the little town of Kumba, Cameroon, there have been no convictions in marital abuse cases for nearly two decades. Thanks to the dynamic and tenacious State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa, Court President Beatrice Ntuba and others, things are about to change. This powerful documentary follows the caseload of a group of feisty female legal professionals tackling cases from marital violence and kidnapping to child abuse and rape with fierce compassion, wisdom and wisecracks, handing down stiff sentences to those convicted.

Princess Mononoke
Girl boss
San, The Princess Mononoke: Ugh, I smell like a human.

Studio Ghibli’s films are known for creating powerful, realistic heroines, and The Princess Mononoke might be its most ambition and endearing #girlboss yet. San (voiced by Claire Danes) is no Disney princess. She’s a fearless girl who was raised by wolves and a passionate defender of the environment. Her love life comes a distant second to her fight to protect her home. Her wolf-goddess mother Moro (Gillian Anderson) taught her well.

Alien girl boss

Ripley: Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die. 
Lambert: Look, could you open the god-damned hatch? We have to get him inside. 
Ripley: No. I can’t do that and if you were in my position, you’d do the same. 
Dallas: Ripley, this is an order. Open that hatch right now, do you hear me? Ripley: Yes. 
Dallas: Ripley. This is an order. Do you hear me? 
Ripley: Yes. I read you. The answer is negative.

The feminist themes in this movie are still being lauded, debated and parsed as hotly today as they were following the 1979 release of this Ridley Scott sci-fi thriller. And you can dig as deeply into that as you like. (The white men die first! Yeah, but the little white panties!) Or you can enjoy this movie on a purely visceral level and praise Goddess and the baby Jesus that we have such a kick ass heroine at the helm when shit starts getting real. Alien should be mandatory viewing for your inner #girlboss before every big meeting, performance review or public speaking engagement you have.

When you’re struggling with a nasty case of Imposter Syndrome: 

Amy: Jules, this is so boring without drugs.

Yeah, this one’s a cautionary tale, to be sure. But a gut-wrenching reminder that talent is only part of the equation. Our personal demons, dramas and insecurities can derail even the most promising career. “Making it” is not the endgame, especially for high achievers, so Imposter Syndrome – fear of being exposed as a fraud – can strike anyone, at any time. Amy alternately fought and embraced her demons, but the real cure for Imposter Syndrome is a much more complex process of hard work, self-acceptance and calculated risks. Or as another enormous talent, Beyoncé advised: grind till you own it.

Is your inner #girlboss feeling inspired to take on a new challenge? What movies motivate you to climb higher or work harder?


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