I am NOT a mumpreneur

I got a bit rageful on Twitter today.

Have you heard the term ‘mumpreneur’? It’s been bandied about for a couple of years and had felt a sense of unease in the blogosphere about it before, but the connotations of the term never struck me until this morning.

I started by saying:

It’s been mentioned before but I find the ‘mumpreneur’ term SO derogatory. ‘Ooh you clever old mums fit business in between the washing up’

starting to simmer…

Like this ‘mumpreneur’ in Aus – http://bit.ly/lehJyE – ‘cleverly’ balancing work, storytime and the home. VOM. @MumpreneurUK, it’s wrong.

and then I got really fuming…

Well done for setting women’s rights back about 20 years #mumpreneur

I was so pleased to get tens of responses and re-tweets on this subject: I am not alone in thinking this term is demeaning.

 

I happened upon the MumpreneurUK Twitter stream which seemed to me to be one of the most offensive things to hit my eyeballs in a while (and I’m not talking about the hot pink background, though OUCH to that). The tone of it all, the ‘well done you’ statements really don’t sit well with me. Do us poor working women really struggle so much with our business confidence that we need to actively seek positive reinforcement at places like this?

I am a mother, and I have a business. I don’t think this make me a mumpreneur. My work life and home life is kept completely separate as each has nothing to do with the other, so why is there the need to label working mums with this term? Why is there the need to congratulate clever old me on effectively balancing my business with my family, cleaning and cooking? I would rather not reference myself as a ‘mumpreneur’ as I don’t think it has any bearing on the way I perform at work and I wouldn’t like my clients to think it does.

In my mind I have it easy right now; I went from a massively full on-career as a Marketing Manager to starting my own business which means I’m able to work in the evenings and when my husband is at home. It’s sometimes tough to stay motivated after a bad night’s sleep or to focus on a task when my mum’s out having fun with Elfie but I do it because I love it, not because I have to. In my opinion the women who need most support and work hardest are those who are on difficult shift patterns as nurses as doctors, who leave their babies to go and work in the forces or who have demanding jobs with inflexible office hours and locations.

I don’t need to be congratulated or patronised. I thrive on juggling all my balls and I get so much more out of life and my daughter because of it.

I understand my view is in the extreme and may touch a nerve with some, but to me the term ‘Mumpreneur’ is condescending, patronising and outdated. It says ‘well done, you’ve sent a couple of emails in between your baking’, or ‘congratulations, you gave birth and your business brain isn’t shot to shit’. It is a term that sounds like it was made up by a middle-aged advertising executive with a paunch and a belief that women belong in the kitchen.

My husband was at home today so he looked after Elfie whilst I caught up with work. He worked when she napped, yet he will never be labelled a ‘Dadpreneur’.

If you Google image search ‘mumpreneur‘, the first result is one of a woman baking cupcakes. The source is the BBC. Says it all really.

Thanks so much to Magz, Jen, Righteous, Emily, Sally, Kat, Hannah, Sian and numerous others for the support today… onwards with the mumpreneur revolt!

Image credit.

 

 

19 Comments
  1. I agree – the whole fact that there seems to be a need to diffrentiate between male and female irriates me. I mean we don’t talk about working Dads and their impact on their children do we?

    I guess its a sign that we women are doing well if they need to try and get at us and separate us – as I see it I’m an employer, a mother and me – all different and all things I’m doing well at

  2. I couldn’t agree more. It’s less of a stigma but it was also interesting to watch people’s reaction when my daughter was born in 2000 and it became obvious that for a few years I was taking time for the school run, looking after her when she was ill, because my wife had the not-at-home job. People are probably more used to the idea now but even as recently as 8 years or so ago, many contacts – some of them a lot younger than I am – were pretty surprised. And yet, while I was doing that juggling (and so was my wife!), as you say, nobody ever called me a Dadpreneur or anything daft like that.

    “Entrepreneur” or “business manager” are gender neutral. Everyone has pressures, some more than others, but the ones who get it right are successful and the others – well, would it be too judgemental just to call them “badpreneurs”?

    1. Thanks Guy – it’s great to get your view.

      I think there’s definitely some sort of stigma at play even now, especially with the more traditional business-type jobs (the ‘city’ jobs). It seems to be a bit more accepted in the creative industries that men are more hands-on with their children but equality is still a very very long way away. And as long as we have terms like ‘mumpreneur’ I don’t believe we’ll ever get there.

  3. I completely agree. I hat the term mainly because it sounds American and phoney. I also hate WAHM (work at home mom – I’ve deliberately spelled mum like that – another nasty Americanism).

    When I took over Motivating Mum last year I did use those two as keywords even though I hated them, as they seemed to be the buzzwords of the minute. I was new into the business and didn’t know any better. Now I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve decided that I would rather have a site with words I like on it, and so I am slowly deleting mumpreneur and WAHM from all my tags and places where it was hidden.

    I do use the term “businessmum” when talking to other mums in business.My own business is a small venture, an add-on to my main job as mum, and not something I would ever think would become a full-time salary earner. Am I mum or businesswoman – I am both…

    1. Whoops – sorry Debbie, your comment seemed to get lost in my spam filter for a couple of days.

      Great to get your point of view – though I work at home for the majority of the time I don’t think I would class myself as a WAHM, I much prefer to say I run a small consultancy – because it’s what I do. I have people working for me in different areas of the country and I see myself, like you, as a businesswoman. Mumpreneur sounds so gimmicky, as if I’m just playing at business or something!

  4. Only just seen this – ridiculous demeaning of women in business who happen to have children. I work and have no childcare all that makes me is 10 shades of awesome.

  5. Hi Alice,
    Firstly ‘Hi’, I’m a newbie nosing around in your blog and having a lovely time! I had to comment on this post, before I start stamping my feet in frustration!

    I’m a Mum of 3 young children and I work 2 days a week, I also work freelance from home and I am in the scary process of launching my own blog.

    But I certainly don’t see myself as a ´Mumprenuer´. The term makes me feel like I should be sitting at my computer dashing off emails, whilst my youngest slurps off my boob and my granola muffins raise happily in my Aga!

    It also implies that being a working Mum is a new concept, that us clever little girlies are only now getting the hang of…

    Yes I am Mum and Yes I work, sometimes from home – shouldn’t that be it?

    Phew, I feel a bit better now!

    1. Hi – thanks for coming here and for your comment, I love to hear others’ opinions on this topic! Let me know when your blog’s up and running, I’d love to see it.

  6. I’m glad you’ve said this – I don’t have kids or my own business, but I hear that word a lot in the background at work, and I hate hate HATE it! It sounds kind of smug to me.

  7. The word Mumpreneur often generates strong reactions but I would like to highlight a couple of issues.
    Mums who start businesses from home are faced with an entirely different set of challenges compared to those with no children. I have to schedule everything around my children, meetings, phone calls and can honestly say that had they not been born I would not be self-employed.
    The aim of Mumpreneur UK is to support mum owned businesses throughout the UK whether they are start-ups or global, million pound turnover companies.
    One of the things we are trying to do is to dispel the myth that ‘Mumpreneurs’ are just women using hobbies to earn ‘pin money’ however posts such as this one do create the impression that ‘Mumpreneur’ means just that.
    Instead of being negative about a word, which incidentally recently entered the dictionary, try supporting and celebrating the mumpreneur revolution that’s currently taking place throughout the world!

    1. Thanks for your response Laura – I think it’s important to get different views on an issue such as this, which like you said generates strong reactions.

      I agree that mothers starting businesses from home have completely different challenges; I, too schedule everything around my child and have the odd conference call with CBeebies as my background noise rather than the hum of an office. I also agree that if my daughter was not born I would most likely still be working in the city.

      My issue is that the ‘Mumpreneur’ label has such negative connotations and puts a woman’s role as a mother before anything else, something I’ve never felt is at all relative in business. It doesn’t need drawing attention to, women struggle enough for equality as it is so why draw attention to the fact they are mothers?

      I like to celebrate women in business and especially in tech, as such I am a member of a few women’s business networks and have been for a long time. However I will never identify myself as a mumpreneur; to me it feels belittling and places my role as a mother and woman over my work and achievements.

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