In a recent survey over half of the female entrepreneurs asked said they would like to see the term ‘Mumpreneur’ consigned to the past.
The term ‘Mumpreneur’ was first coined to describe the growing numbers of women who launched their own businesses during or soon after maternity leave. It was first used in 1998 and entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
The current dictionary definition is: “a woman who combines running a business enterprise with looking after her children.” This is problematic on many levels for women running their own businesses, not least because it does not recognise those who were entrepreneurs before becoming mothers.
Of the 500 businesswomen interviewed, 65% said that they found the term to have negative connotations and saw it as a reductive way to label them when they are successful businesses owners who just happen to have a family.
In itself, the label ‘Mumpreneur’ suggests that businesses run by mothers are not the primary source of income and therefore come secondary to the business of raising a family.
This is seconded by Jo Fairley, the founder of Green and Black’s chocolate who comments that the term in and of itself suggests all these women are simply making crafts to sell on Etsy and not making a significant contribution to the economy. For many women, this is simply not the case and there is an increasing backlash towards the label that has been growing over the past few years.
Equally, it is argued by working mothers that fathers who choose to run their own businesses are not labelled ‘Dadpreneurs’ causing many women to call out both the gender-bias and condescending implication of the term. While Dads generally do not have the main responsibility for the children, doing the school run and managing sick days, it is more likely the term ‘Dadpreneur’ will never catch on because, for men, fatherhood tends to have nothing to do with their business.
When viewed through this lens, it makes the labelling a woman who has children and runs a business even more unhelpful. A mother cannot be an entrepreneur in her own right and so, therefore, her business is seen as the extension of her children. This might explain why 49% of the women who took part in the MoneyCorp survey described the label as patronising.
The increased number of women starting their own businesses during or soon after maternity leave is symptomatic of the lack of alignment between the working day and childcare provision. The flexibility of working from home, around the school day or to save money on childcare is an attractive bonus of running your own business.
However, it does not mitigate that many of these businesses are successful and bring in a lot more than a pocket money ‘side-hustle’. Calling the women who run these businesses ‘Mumpreneurs’ is undermining the skills and experience they are bringing to their businesses which make them successful.