Much has been made in recent years about the rise of the so-called 'mumpreneurs'- a growing tribe of working mothers who leave behind the stresses of corporate life to find fulfillment and success running their own businesses from the kitchen table (sofa, armchair or oftentimes their bed).
The reason behind this growing trend is complex and will, of course, ultimately differ for each woman, however on closer inspection this really is a group of reluctant entrepreneurs. If asked, many so-called 'mumpreneurs' will admit the initial transition to self-employment was not as a result of a positive choice, but as a frustrated response to inhospitable workplace cultures, the rising cost of childcare, inflexible work schedules, poor quality part-time jobs, and discriminatory attitudes towards part-time and flexible workers.
Given this background the classification is condescending and patronising. For centuries women have fought to eradicate gender barriers. We have battled tirelessly to be recognised for our abilities and successes rather than for our bodies or gender. Women have been outcast, beaten, jailed and have even died fighting for our right to be recognised on an equal footing with our willy-wielding counterparts. Why then have we been so quick to brand ourselves with such a gender-specific and lazy stereotype?
Surely we can't have it both ways? How can we shout about the favourable treatment men get in the workplace and then embrace a title that immediately separates and takes us a significant step backwards? Perhaps we saying being a mother and a business person is tougher than being a regular entrepreneur and therefore that is why we have been so willing to adopt the term with pride. However if that is the case, what about the Dad entrepreneurs - shouldn't we also be championing the 'dadpreneurs' with the same vigour? Men would not allow themselves to be divided in this way, parents vs non-parents, so why do it to women? We have accepted a label that so blatantly links our professional identities with our decision to procreate. Complete madness. Surely the title is unnecessary in any event. Why don't we settle with the perfectly gender-neutral term we already have, 'entrepreneur'?
This is not to undermine the enormous achievements of Mums who have also built businesses; it takes some serious determination and enormous sacrifice to do so. As a business owner and mother myself I know the struggle acutely. Combining spreadsheet-induced sleepless nights with 'teething/projectile vomming/impressive metalcore-style shouting' related insomnia has certainly added some wrinkles. But is this really so very different from the stress, anxiety and sleepless nights any new start-up experiences?
What we really should do is stop celebrating the rise of the 'mumpreneurs' and start working to address the reasons that push mothers into self-employment in the first place. I for one won't be using the term mumpreneur to describe my achievements; I'm a Mum yes, I run a business yes, but as an entrepreneur I want my title, accomplishments and successes to be measured on the same playing field as the boys. That's something we surely all deserve.
Follow my business lobellaloves.com on Instagram @lobellaloves and watch the journey unfold - beautiful treasures for little people.