Don’t Call Me a Momtrepreneur
Plain-old entrepreneur will do, thanks.
Hi. I’m a momtrepreneur. And I totally resent the label, thankyouverymuch.
Let me explain:
“Momtrepreneur” is a fairly new word, barely around for a decade. It describes women — moms, obviously — who run their own businesses, usually out of their homes. Momtrepreneurs almost always carry the responsibility of childcare along with — besides — on top of — and yes, totally intertwined with — their businesses.
Yep, that’s me. To a T.
So why do I hate the word?
I am one of those women who fell victim to workplace discrimination when I became a mom, and so I know first-hand how corporate culture in the US views motherhood. We are considered a liability. We’re marginalized. Yes, the idea is totally regressive — but it’s also undeniably embedded in our society. If work is not our sole passion — if we shoulder the responsibilities of a little person or two — somehow, it can’t be possible that we could continue to contribute. Excel. Hell, even be up to snuff.
And so it follows that there’s a stigma embedded in the very construct of the word momtrepreneur itself.
MOMtrepreneur. We’re not simply entrepreneurs. We’re labeled. We’re a “type.” And not a cool one.
Think about it: What’s the label for people who quit their jobs and travel the world, building businesses to support their lifestyle choice? Digital nomad. That sounds beyond amazing.
Why? Because wanderlust globetrotting is aspirational for pretty much everyone. Who doesn’t want to quit their job and travel the world, working for themselves? (I’m sure you’ll tell me you’re out there; pipe up in the comments because I’m actually totally curious what makes you tick!)
Now: quitting your job to take have the flexibility to spend more time with your kids — and make that your lifestyle choice — that’s somehow less aspirational. Messy. DOMESTIC.
I think that’s the heart and soul of the matter, right there. As 21st century women, we, and the women who came before us, have worked so hard for the right to get out of the kitchen and sit next to men at the conference room table. We’ve really only had the right for a few decades, and now that we’ve jumped into this crazy thing called entrepreneurialism alongside men, there’s always this (totally rational) fear that men and women alike will treat us differently from our male counterparts.
I mean, they did back in our full-time wage-earning days — so why not now that we’ve decided to take our fates into or own hands and build something ourselves?
And here’s a dirty secret: there are male momtrepreneurs too. You know them. You see them at the coffee shops and indoor play places with their laptops, sitting next to you. Hell, they’re right here, writing thought-leadership pieces and blogging about their lives. Maybe you have a few of them in your feed.
They just don’t get the label. There’s no such thing as a DADtrepreneur.
It’s time to stop treating female entrepreneurs as something different, secondary, and less serious than “real” — because we are actually the ones driving significant economic growth. In charge of our own destinies, paychecks, and payrolls, we could even — dare I say it? — help bridge the I-can’t-believe-this-is-STILL-a-thing gender pay gap.
Everyone becomes an entrepreneur for his or her own reasons, but the reason shouldn’t define any of us. That’s the job of our work, our products, and our services. The process — how we get there — is our narrative, and we can spin that any way we want. The product — that is our magnum opus, and it is that success which defines us.
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Marielle Henault is an ex-Disney exec and founder of Doobry, where she helps companies evolve their businesses into brands and intellectual properites into entertainment franchises.
If you’ve got a spark of a thing that you think maybe — probably — hopefully — other people might find cool, too, get in touch! I’m here to help with what comes next.