Earlier this year, eBay published research that revealed ‘Mumpreneurs’ were responsible for generating £7.2 billion in our economy. That’s some pretty impressive apples right there, no? A mum and a success? How on earth are they able to manage a family, a nappy bag and a business? Goodness me. Whatever next!?
Such was the somewhat sarcastic sentiment of Sarah Hall, founder of Sarah Hall Consulting. She’s a mum and a successful business woman but she wasn’t in the least bit happy with the lexis. The word ‘mumpreneur’ offended her. She found it patronising and condescending and, now that I think about it, I kind of agree with her.
As women we have spent decades forming a sisterhood that has dedicated itself to removing gender barriers. We have worked tirelessly to be defined by our abilities and not our body parts. Women have been thrown in jail, beaten, and ostracised fighting for our rights to be recognised on equal terms as our boy-shaped counterparts. Which is why it seems really strange that we’re now so keen to embrace such a gender-specific label.
Can we have it both ways? Can we complain when we feel that men are favoured above us in the work-place but willingly embrace a title such as ‘mumpreneur’ because, well, why? Do we think it’s harder to do it as a mum and therefore we’re going to wear that badge with pride? Dads start businesses too, right? We don’t call them ‘dadpreneurs’. With ‘entrpreneur’ we’ve got a perfectly good, gender-neutral word. Why are we so quick to take a semantic step backwards?
With the prohibitive costs of childcare, it makes sense that more and more mothers are looking for alternative ways to make a living and what better time has there ever been to do it? In this digital world, we’ve got previously unheard of potential to create our own success from the comfort of our own sofa. The division of labour amongst parents is more equal than it has ever been. Social media means that any mum with a basic working knowledge of the internet can become their own PR and Marketing team.
Of course, to become a ‘mumpreneur’ it takes more than that. It take blood, sweat and (regular) tears. It takes real sacrifice and commitment and sleepless nights. It means dealing with sleep-defying anxiety, stress and pressure but it doesn’t matter whether your a mother, a father or a three-headed imp from Madagascar…starting a business always requires those things.
If eBay’s research had defined how much money ‘female entrepreneurs’ had generated, we would have had something to say about it. I’m not undermining the achievements of mothers who have built successful businesses. All I’m saying is perhaps we can rethink our recent infatuation with the term ‘mumpreneur’? Is it all a bit unnecessary?
Image courtesy of simonandschuster.com