Why I Don’t Like Being Labeled a Female Entrepreneur
Originally published on AllBusiness.com.
No, this post isn’t about gender identity—it’s about how arbitrary I find the labels “female entrepreneur” and “woman entrepreneur.”
People like to create two categories for business owners: entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs. I have never understood why the two have to be separated. Haven’t we reached the point in our society where we’ve stopped delineating between the capabilities of each gender? (Watch the videos in the Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign for tear-jerking examples.) Can’t we just focus on the subject of entrepreneurship without breaking it down further?
I need no home court advantage
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with resources directed specifically at women who own businesses, I fail to see the point. Don’t we all need help writing a business plan, networking with other business owners, and finding funding? Why is it specific to women? You don’t see “male entrepreneur” resources.
I certainly don’t speak for all womankind, but I don’t want special treatment because I’m a woman. I want to succeed—and have, over the 13 years I’ve owned my marketing firm—based on merit and my ability to kick a$$ at what I do.
Being a mother and business owner isn’t notable
I absolutely detest the term mompreneur. Recognizing a woman who both raises human beings and runs a business is like congratulating a man for walking and breathing at the same time. It’s not commendable; it’s life. And where are the men who are doing the same? “Dadpreneur” is much less of a popularized term because it just comes with the territory.
Mothers who work as employees aren’t “momployees.” So why do we point out the combination of the roles if they run a business?
Years ago, I knew a divorced woman who would complain every chance she got about how hard it was to be a single mom. It made me crazy that she wore that label like an albatross. Now that I find myself a single mom, I refuse to embrace the label as an excuse for things being hard sometimes—they’re hard for everyone.
I rarely think to call myself a single mother. I’m just a mother (and business owner) who happens to not have a partner. That doesn’t make my life tremendously difficult because I refuse to let it. I’m still 100% capable of doing what needs doing. It’s the same for running a business.
Men are from Mars . . .
There’s a lot of talk about the differences in how men and women work professionally and how they’re wired. A lot of it is cultural, I believe. When you hear about women being less assertive in the workplace, I suspect that’s more because historically women haven’t been as easily heard as men when they voice their opinions. It’s not that we have something lacking in our brains that keeps us from being self-confident; it’s experience.
I’d love to move the trend away from women acting more like men. I do recognize that many of us came up in a work environment surrounded by males and that we adopted behaviors that we thought would get us ahead (and maybe they did). But it’s like an artist copying another artist’s style. You’re better off coming up with your own.
An example I think about a lot that relates to this is comparing Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Both are incredible, powerful women, but they take such different approaches to success. Hillary seems to have let the men in her professional life rub off on her to the point that she’s all angles and assertiveness (I still love her). Michelle is the woman we all want to be our best friend. She’s not afraid to be female, and that certainly isn’t a detractor for her. She owns her power exactly how it is.
People say that men are more logical and are go-getters. Well, so am I, so that blows that argument out of the water.
It’s not about male and female entrepreneurs operating differently as a gender, it’s about people. I know men and I know women who are terribly disorganized. I know people of both genders who could sell sunshine to a San Diegan, who work relentlessly and have succeeded as a result. Gender has got nothing to do with it.
What’s my point?
Excuse me if I ranted a bit in this post, but I want to bring attention to this subject to encourage you to stop calling yourself a female entrepreneur and just be an entrepreneur. Your gender does not define your ability to succeed, nor should you rely on it to get special accommodations.
Work hard. Do your best. Succeed. And show the next generation of girls that gender shouldn’t come into the equation for business success as an entrepreneur whatsoever.