By Lyndsey Hall
The economy is on the mend, job security is starting to improve, and surveys show that most of us are feeling much happier in our careers than in the previous few years. But the number of people who are shaking off the traditional nine to five and starting their own business continues to increase.
Entrepreneurs are the life’s blood of this country, business owners are invariably hardworking, persistent and determined doers and innovative thinkers. If they weren’t, their venture would have fallen at the first hurdle. One of the biggest reasons to come out when you ask business owners why they decided to start their own business is ‘flexibility’: they wanted more freedom; more time to spend with their family; more control over their own working hours. It goes without saying, then, that many of these brave, ambitious people are working mothers and fathers.
According to an article in The Guardian “the latest buzzword in business” is “mumpreneur”. An amalgamation of the words Mum and Entrepreneur. Both simple, innocuous words that give an understanding of who and what a person is, certainly no malice intended when describing someone as such. But mumpreneur is becoming a term that many women reject and despise; a loaded word that carries all the prejudice and stigma that ‘housewife’, ‘stay-at-home mum’ and ‘feminist’ have previously been tarred with.
Is “mumpreneur” a dirty word?
The term is creating a divide, akin to the Marmite Principle, with lovers on one side, and loathers on the other. Many women feel it is a compliment to their ability to multitask and run a successful business as well as a happy household, but others do not see the relevance that their being a parent has to their being a business owner. And it is not only those women who started their business as a distinctly separate entity to their family life who loathe it; even women whose biggest driver was their children see the word mumpreneur as a belittlement of their achievements. “I founded my business at home, like many mothers, out of a desire to give my son a more secure future. I believe that the not-so-subtle implications of the word ‘mumpreneur’ contribute to the everyday sexism that women still face,” says Sara Robinson, managing director of Cake Communications, an award winning public relations company based in Cardiff, Wales.
“Will all the ‘dadpreneurs’ please stand up?” Sara Robinson
“It’s lazy, divisive and it reinforces sexist stereotypes. Until we stop suggesting that women in business are just play acting, or are juggling it around their more pressing family commitments, the battle for women to be treated on an equal footing will continue, regardless of their child-bearing status.”
Jane Asscher, co-founder of London-based creative communications agency 23red, takes the opposite view of the word: “As co-founder of a creative business employing 40 people and mother of three children I’m all in favour of the term ‘mumpreneur’. I love my work-life blend and thrive on the adrenalin of juggling to make it all happen. Being called a mumpreneur is important to me because it immediately communicates two things in one memorable word, which is that women like me routinely hold down two jobs, namely running a family and a business. I also think the wider use of the term may encourage more women to believe that they too can do it.”
What do you think of the term “mumpreneur”? Is it another derivative word used to belittle the difficult role that working mothers have, while simultaneously suggesting that the role of mother will always come before the role of entrepreneur? Or is it a term that should be taken ownership of by women, and used to build a community of like-minded, supportive female business owners? Share your thoughts in the Comments, or Tweet us @KnowlesWarwick
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