This week I’m celebrating 52 weeks of Ask the Mompreneur by taking a moment to reflect on the word “Mompreneur.”
The Wikipedia entry for mompreneur (which I wrote) says it’s “a neologism defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.” It’s a mash-up of two words, similar to “e-mail” or “spork,” also known as a portmanteau.
But all that begs the question, why do we need a new word for this? Aren’t women entrepreneurs just the same as men entrepreneurs? Does it matter that we have children? Does the term “mompreneur” even minimize us as business owners?
I don’t imagine that this brief blog will settle the debate about working versus staying at home, or add more than a drop to the ocean of ink being spilled in response to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent article in The Atlantic “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” But I will say that for me, the mompreneur path represents an important third option.
I think a lot of women are disenchanted with the current two-party system – either work corporate hours or stay home full time. Part-time work usually comes without health insurance and job sharing opportunities are pretty rare out there. So like Ross Perot in the 90’s, the third-party candidate of mompreneurship is here to give the dominant parties a much-needed kick in the butt.
The majority of working parents may never become business owners, but third parties can help to focus the conversation on important issues. Politically, we can thank third parties for women’s suffrage, child labor laws, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Socially and economically, we can thank mompreneurs for showing us a new, modern model of working parenthood that is equally viable for men and women.
Some mompreneurs make a little side money; others are the primary breadwinners for their household. Regardless of the income level, all mompreneurs have one thing in common – they are in control of their enterprises, however large or small. They are taking themselves seriously, they are treating their own passions with respect, and they are putting themselves out there in the marketplace by placing a dollar value on their goods and services.
This is powerful stuff for us, our families, and our society. A sobering new study from Harvard, NYU, and University of Utah researchers has found that men with stay at home wives more frequently deny opportunities for promotion to qualified female employees than men with working wives. So we know that what we see at home exerts a significant influence on how we operate at work.
Therefore, mompreneurs are doing far more than actualizing their personal potential, they are also showing their husbands, children, and the world that women can achieve the ultimate business title - owner. So let’s embrace the word “mompreneur” and all that it represents!
Jennie Wong, Ph.D., is a syndicated business writer, executive coach, and the author of “Ask the Mompreneur: Small Business Advice on Starting and Growing Your Own Company,” available at www.JennieWong.com. Email your entrepreneurship questions to TheJennieWong@gmail.com.