Gender labeling is an inflammatory topic amongst entrepreneurs

About 20 years ago, there was a surge in women starting their businesses because they weren’t getting any flexibility around their family life once they had children.

After a long period of not having many children and concentrating on careers, women hadn’t considered the effect of having children on their careers until they were experiencing it.

After giving birth, they understood the work involved in helping to grow little humans, and realised that putting in long hours in the office just wasn’t going to work any more.

A brief history of gender labelling

Many found that there were products or services that they knew would be useful, but weren’t available on the market, so they created them or invented them themselves.

In the millenial baby blip(2004-2014) many babies were being born, and the affectionate name given to the women that decided to start their own businesses, was Mumpreneur.

At first this was seen as a really empowering term, and once the media picked up on it, we had Mumpreneur articles, TV segments and radio shows proudly showcasing these women.

The word Mumpreneur was everywhere. Until there was a backlash.

“Why should I label myself as a Mum?” many said. “Why does it matter that as an entrepreneur, I have had babies?” “I want to be seen as an entrepreneur in my own right.”

The buzz around the phenomenon of women with children becoming entrepreneurs was stifled and eventually it almost became a dirty word. Something ‘less’ than a ‘true’ entrepreneur.

The rejuvenation of gender labeling

Now it’s starting again with the word ‘Female Founders’’.

Women are rising up globally to voice their dissatisfaction with the progress of equality in business. Why do women take offence at the idea of highlighting their ‘female-ness’?

There has been a recent spate of posts on LinkedIn and articles in the media where women are posting a pic of themselves with the title ‘I am a Female Founder’ and saying that they want to remove the word female as it somehow makes them seem lesser or different.

I think it’s important to loudly proclaim that we are women, as well as being entrepreneurs or founders. It builds solidarity with other women, highlights that we are different and that it makes us more visible to younger women and girls looking for role models.

And let’s face it, whatever we might wish to believe, in the entrepreneurial world for women, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to visibility.

In the corporate world, competition is encouraged, from vying for jobs to speaking out at meetings and right through to the very few boardroom seats available to women.

This is an inherently male characteristic of creating ‘alpha’ people, but one that challenges the ability to build supportive, inclusive teams where everyone has an opportunity to shine.

I realise that this is not true everywhere, but in many large organisations this is true.

Life as a female founder is different to male founders. Women don’t get the same access to funding as men so 64% of use their own savings to get their business started.

Other barriers for female founders are that we also tend not to get as many grants, we have to balance personal commitments and are less likely to ask for help.

So, it’s important that women are visible in business, particularly for entrepreneurs, and that we work together to help every woman achieve her business goals.

When we have gender equality in business then we can gladly drop the gender identifier from our titles but right now, I’m proud to proclaim I am a female founder!!

Jules Brooke is the Founder of She’s The Boss Group and Handle Your Own PR, host of She’s The Boss show on Youtube, She’s The Boss Chats and She’s The Boss Leaders podcasts. Beam magazine Woman To Watch 2021.