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That Mother is An IEW…Are You?

If you are in life stage: Working Hard for No Money Posted April 18th, 2013
By Kathryn Sollmann

Our society is quick to label. We attach labels to people according to schools attended, degrees received, family pedigree, address, socioeconomic standing, sports children play and more. Some of the more divisive labels relate to a woman’s choice of whether to work–or not.

Though a woman might be a very active and productive unpaid worker for a cause, in a social setting she is not often introduced as a “volunteer”. More frequently, any mother who does not receive a paycheck is classified under the umbrella term of  “SAHM” or stay-at-home Mom.

All these mothers have made the choice to be at home with their children, and the SAHM label suggests that they lead placid, sedentary, one-dimensional lives. We all know that running a household, volunteering in schools and communities, managing personal finances and myriad other “SAHM” responsibilities keep women running in many directions from dawn until dusk.

The term “working mother” is also a bone of contention among women who are out of the paid workforce. Do only women with paid careers “work” while women out of the workforce “play”? Attempts to revise the “working mother” label don’t really work either–because all women tend to do some kind of work “outside of the home”.

Rather than choosing labels that divide women into separate camps or appear to elevate the status of one over the other (depending on the day or media whims), I propose a label we all can adopt. From now on let’s all be IEWs: Interesting Engaged Women. What we are engaged in needn’t divide: our collective activities in and out of the workforce should be a source of energy and inspiration for all. —KAS

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3 Responses

  1. Patricia Mandell says:

    I’ve often thought that if we could end the mommy wars, all women would gain so much more, so much faster. Bravo for this alternative label!

  2. Carson says:

    I found that business cards were an excellent investment when I left the paid work force. Creating them (shout-out to VistaPrint: quick, easy, beautiful and affordable) made me consider carefully what “dent in the universe” I was making in my volunteer jobs (Steve Jobs’ phrase). Now, I am not at a loss when cards are exchanged, and I no longer feel an identity-loss prick every time I have to fill in an “occupation” slot on a form. Kudos to any woman who wrestles with language and makes it serve the Mommy Peace!

  3. Kathryn Sollmann says:

    Love your business card idea–why not? We all have an identity in or out of the workforce! Thanks for commenting.

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