We Are Not Sodding Mumpreneurs

Here are a few facts about me: I am a woman, I am an entrepreneur; a writer, a creative person. I run two businesses (this here commercial blog and a Marketing consultancy), and I do a bit of journalism on the side. I like shopping, keeping fit and travelling.

I am also a mum.

The fact I have birthed two children from my body has no bearing on the others. I have two awesome kids who I come home to at the end of the day, but that does not affect who I am at the office, gym or shops.

And did I mention? I’m also a feminist, determined to bring those kids up in a world where gender equality is a Thing.

Which is why I became so rageful yesterday when I received an email from a major baby brand inviting me to a London-based event for ‘Mumpreneurs’.

Mumpreneurs.

MUMPRENEURS.

I mean, for goodness sake. We have a woman Prime Minister, we look to Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg as our role models, and we’re still reducing women in business to their title of ‘Mum’?

Let me explain.

The word Entrepreneur is loaded with meaning. I think Entrepreneur and my mind goes to Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Sara Blakely, Arianna Huffington, Tory Burch. I think innovation, power, success.

In contrast, I think Mumpreneur and the mind goes to a different place entirely. It recalls the patronising responses I get when I tell people I own a business, the assumption I run my world ‘from my kitchen table’ – why do they always think mums run ‘kitchen table’ start-ups? – and the sarcastic comments about fitting work in between the cooking and the cleaning. It’s a derogatory and reductive term that should not be applied to anyone, and I’ll take the associations with the word ‘Entrepreneur’ over that load of crap any day.

Alice Judge-Talbot

I was wondering what to do with this email invite. I sat and stewed on not just the fact that I (and loads of women on Twitter, I asked them) felt belittled by the word ‘Mumpreneur’, but also that I had been offered within the text of the email the very special chance to be given ‘handy tips’ on ‘how to be a successful businesswoman and mum in one’. Because apparently it’s impossible for us to do both the job of business leader and mother otherwise.

Eyeroll.

As I was stewing I received another invitation from Soho House and the brilliant Blooming Foundation , and the language used couldn’t have been more different.

I read the invite for ‘Female Founders’ (not a Mumpreneur in sight) and felt inspired and excited: I booked my spot immediately.

That’s when I knew I had to say something.

I want my children to grow up in a world where women are respected as equals in business, where mothers are respected as equals in business. And that’s not going to happen if large brands are still peddling the angle that it’s unnatural for a woman to be both a mother AND an entrepreneur.

Which is exactly what I wrote in my response. I explained that as a businesswoman I took offence to the reductive term ‘Mumpreneur’ and felt it belittled women at a time when we should feel empowered. I explained that much like the term ‘girl boss’ (heave) it should not be used by anyone valuing the cause of feminism and equality.  I asked if they’d ever use the term ‘Dadpreneur’, and (sarcastically) advised that until a time where this entered the general lexicon, they should perhaps re-think their strategy.

Gendered terms for either of us – male or female – are inherently sexist.

And it’s up to us to make a stand against them.

I wrote about this back in 2011 – what a shame we’re still having to fight this uphill battle. 

Edited to add – I have received a response from the PR agency promoting the event, apologising for the language used and explaining the term ‘Mumpreneur’ is used by the Government-backed organization they are working with (I’ll be getting in touch with them, too). They have confirmed they won’t be using the term in any further events.

 

26 Comments
    1. I have, Michelle! It’s a term they adopted from the government-backed organization they work with (who I’ll be emailing too!). They have promised to never use it again.

  1. Someone forwarded this article to me and you’re bang on! I recently started a magazine based on this very irritation: Social Butterflies . Would it be OK to get in touch?

  2. I totally agree with your argument here even though I’m quite happy to call myself a mumpreneur. I have a business that wouldn’t have been born if my children hadn’t been born. I specifically work the business around my children and i have purposely kept it small whilst they are small. As they grow I am sure I will want to release myself of the mumpreneur title which is why I totally agree with what you are saying. I really admire those of you that had the entrepreneurial spirit in you before children were born. I didn’t so I am proud of the title. It works for me but it shouldn’t be used as an umbrella for every mum that happens to run a business.

  3. YES ALICE *pom poms* it’s so depressing that brands (and just well PEOPLE) think that this is an acceptable way to talk about women in business. Having pushed a child or two out of your vagina (or had them delivered via c-section) has nothing to do with our skills in the working world.

  4. Yes, yes, yes! Oh my goodness, you have summed up in a short article everything I think every time one of the cringe-worthy terms or hashtags appear in my timeline. Fab post!

  5. Agree completely. I wrote a post about this same thing but I don’t think half as eloquently a month or so back. There are entrepreneurs already – why do we need a new word for Mums who happen to be in business? Dadpreneur would NEVER be a thing. Because it would get laughed out of the room. I hope the brand who emailed you took note x

  6. The convenience of words like that it to pigeon whole “types”.
    Suggestion:- devise your own lexicon and circulate it around like minded people.
    Make your own descriptors.

  7. Bloody love this, it drives me crazy and does women such a disservice, thank you for posting about it. Will definitely be sharing x

  8. I guess it depends on the tone in which ‘mumpreneur’ is used. I run female networking groups and there are many women who have been proud to call themselves that and have worked hard to challenge the conventions of flexible working around family for years. If we’re working towards a common goal, raising women’s profile as thought-leaders and business experts and balancing family/ work, then personally I don’t really care about the word itself – as long as it’s not used to ‘belittle’ and label negatively.

  9. ! You are so right about this! “I asked if they’d ever use the term ‘Dadpreneur’, and (sarcastically) advised that until a time where this entered the general lexicon, they should perhaps re-think their strategy.” – I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a mum (or an entrepreneur) but if I were both of those things, mumpreneur would irritate the beejesus out of me.

    Flora
    http://www.theeverchanginghome.com

  10. I agree with every single wonderfully crafted word! I am a business woman, designer, maker, consultant and … mom to two wonderful kids. My mom/mum status has no bearing on my business success, just as my husband’s role as an amazing dad has absolutely no bearing on his. This ‘mum’ prefix has irked me for years. Thanks so much for giving such marvellous vent to my frustrations!

  11. Absolutely. Just. Yes.
    I stopped wearing my wedding ring to work, and it’s amazing how different the conversation becomes- there’s almost a fear of the personal when women don’t wear a band, but an invite to talk about everything when we do.
    Everything in us should be ensuring we treat each other equally, and yes we seem at every juncture to want to create stereotypes- in my world, predominately based on gender- as a way to define us.
    We’re all pretty damn awesome- and we deserve to be recognised for our achievements not our personal characteristics.

  12. Good for you for responding rather than just rolling your eyes and moving on, and good for the PR company for taking it on board, but heaven help us if that’s government mandated language! I’m happy to say that I have never ever been referred to as a mum-lawyer and I think the only time the fact that I have children has been mentioned in the same breath as my career was when I made partner while pregnant which was more of a compliment to the firm that they could see past the next nine months. Why should it be any different because you work for yourself?!

  13. It’s ridiculous, and I am so impressed you have responded to them and they will learn. I can’t believe we are still living in a world where we are having to battle and are treated differently just because we are woman.

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