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'Girl Boss'? 'SHE-E-O'? 'Mompreneur'? No Thanks
'Girl Boss'? 'SHE-E-O'? 'Mompreneur'? No Thanks
Enough with the cutesy nicknames
Leigh Buchanan

Four years ago, Alyson Saxe ran into an old friend at Costco, who—upon learning Saxe had children—inquired whether she worked outside the home. Saxe explained that she’d founded a PR agency. “My friend said, ‘How great! You’re a mompreneur!’ ” recalls Saxe. “ ‘You get to work and have time for your kids and family!’ ”

Saxe was surprised her friend made that distinction. The term mompreneur, she believed, bore the whiff of ambition sacrificed to work-life balance. “It’s like I’m being bucketed into this category of a person who is just trying to keep her foot in the door and earn a little money,” says Saxe, who recently raised north of $2 million for her second company, the brand-management platform IrisPR, based in Phoenix. “I work every bit as hard as male entrepreneurs.

“I am not a mompreneur,” says Saxe. “I am a mother. And I am an entrepreneur.”

Business language—like much other language—is de-gendering. Chairperson.Salesperson. Key person. The word entrepreneuress never existed, thank goodness. But if it had, it too would be gone. Yet, at the same time, some women founders are embracing female-forward descriptors, like mompreneur, and titles (boss lady, girl boss, boss babe, she-E-O) as badges of pride. Meanwhile, marketers, bloggers, and support organizations adopt these terms as shorthand for their focus or mission. The fact that girl boss and she-E-O are closely associated with controversial founders who stepped down from leading their companies—Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal and Miki Agrawal of Thinx, respectively—has barely dimmed their currency.

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October 2019