Thursday, June 5, 2008


I have been reflecting a lot this week on money.  Earning money, to be more specific.  After having lunch with an entrepreneurial friend, I realized with even greater conviction that earning money is an important issue for women to address in these times--even women who opt out of the traditional workforce to stay home.

The trouble with earning money these days (well, one of the troubles anyway) is that the predominant economic system is incompatible for those of us who are choosing a more home-centered lifestyle.  With its "bigger is better" mantra, and often heavy-handed culture, the prevailing economy is not very conducive to the flexibility and nimbleness that women might prefer.

Of course, our modern economy is very effective at what it does, and to attempt to reform it for stay-at-home types seems futile, if not foolish.  This is why I propose the establishment of an alternative e-conomy: a "she-conomy', if you will.  This economy can easily operate alongside the traditional cog-and-wheel system, but in a very different way.

In my mind, the "she-conomy" elevates a more...shall we say, feminine, approach to earning and selling.  And as such, it offers a counterbalance to the current system.  The following are qualities I envision in a "she-conomy":

1.  small and nimble (vs. big and bulky): the American Dream of building an empire out of rags might be well and fine if you don't have to get dinner on the table and give the kids a bath.  The trouble with empires, after all, is that they are difficult to lug around, and require too much time.  Women need an economic culture that offers opportunities for smaller, more portable businesses--ones they can carry with them while they multi-task with a million other things.
2.  flexible: kids get sick, babies need nursing, friends need comfort...and women need an economy that is flexible enough to go with the flow.  Making money can't always trump the needs of others, so there must be a way to make it in the process of everything else.
3.  community-centered:  yes, globalization is a boon for the market, but most women I know don't feel too comfortable when the community suffers at the hands of super-size corporations.  A she-conomy intentionally supports local women making a living and sharing resources with others, even if its means are global.  
4.  relational: women flourish among friends, neighbors and family--why can't our economy flourish here also?  Impersonal and distant (a common byproduct of big business) is too isolating.  A she-conomy is best built among the support and connections around us.

The million dollar question is can a "she-conomy" actually deliver?  I believe the answer is yes, and I think it is already flourishing in pockets around the globe.  I definitely will be talking more about the traits of a she-conomy in the future, and will be looking for stories of women who are making it happen in their own lives and in their communities.  If you have such a story, please share it with my by writing to me at  

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