‘Mumpreneur’ – Why I Don’t Like Phrases Which Specify Gender

mumpreneur

Recently, I got opinionated on LinkedIn. This is very unlike me, as I usually try to tread a careful line not to insult anybody. As a rule, generally I only post links to articles I have published. But, a friend had been posting tips on improving engagement, so I thought I would give it a go.

The post I wrote was about my dislike of words such as ‘mumpreneur’, ‘girl boss’ and ‘female CEO’ and came after I heard the word ‘mumpreneur’ used on a well-known BBC programme to describe a businesswoman.

For me, I don’t see why my gender or parental status is relevant when describing what it is that I do. It annoys me when it is mentioned in the media that a company is run by a woman because I feel that it highlights the disparity between men and women in positions of power. It shouldn’t be seen as unusual for women to be in charge.

I know that others feel differently, and that is their choice. If someone decides that they want to be known as a ‘boss babe’ or ‘mumpreneur’ then that’s down to them. But, I don’t like it.

To me, words which specify the fact that I am a woman are insulting. It’s like having a pat on the head and someone saying ‘well done, you did all of that AND you’re a girl’. I also don’t like that the word ‘female’ or ‘mum’ is put at the start of the title; as though it is the most important part. No, the most important part is me.

I hate the way that the media feels the need to specify when it is a woman in power within a business, whereas we don’t see the equivalent terms for men. They are just themselves. An obvious example of this is how we are forever hearing that New Zealand has a female prime minister, but nobody ever mentions the male president of the United States.

My gender has no impact on how well I do my job or how I run my business.

I am a business owner. I am also a mother. The two things do not need to be combined. When I am working, I wear my ‘work hat’, when I am parenting, I wear my ‘mum hat’.

I find it insulting that people don’t ask my husband how he manages a full-time job when we have six children between us, or ask him whether he needs to take time off in the holidays because of childcare issues. Those questions are automatically reserved for women. They shouldn’t be. He is just as much of a parent as I am. 

I have a long-held hatred of pigeon-holes. I have been labelled as a wide variety of things throughout the years: teen mum, single parent, low income household, unemployed, full-time mum. None of those things have been helpful. They have all had the effect of essentially putting me in my place and have helped people to make judgements about me which, most of the time, are untrue. 

I feel that as a society we are too ready to judge someone based on what we think they should be known as. Why can’t a woman simply be an ‘entrepreneur’ or a ‘CEO’? How is their gender relevant? Why does it matter whether they have children or not? Do we describe our male counterparts the same way? If we call a working mother a ‘mumpreneur’ then surely we should be calling working fathers ‘dadpreneurs’?

The thing that surprised me about my post was the overwhelming support from men. I knew that I would get some backlash for it and I fully expected it. After all, I was showing an opinion and not everybody would agree with me. But, in reality, only one person decided to really take offence to what I had written and that was another woman. Out of over 16,000 views, I would say that 99% of comments were supportive, from both men and women. Men who said that they agreed with me; women who thanked me for voicing their feelings. 

As I said at the start, if someone chooses to label themselves based on their gender then that is entirely their choice. If being called a ‘mumpreneur’ makes them feel good about themselves, then that’s great. I just think that it’s time to stop pigeonholing people and start seeing them as they actually are, especially in the business world.

If you have had the balls to start your own business then it shouldn’t matter whether you are male or female. You deserve recognition and respect. 

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