Challenging the perception of working mothers
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
We're shown, on average, 4,000 to 10,000 marketing messages a day (Forbes Agency Council). Marketing works, so it makes sense that we take on board some of the concepts and steretypes we're shown. That's why it's so important women are represented well. yet older women are rarely used in marketing and let's take a look at this in the context of motherhood. If we look to the marketing industry for what a mother is, we're generally shown two people: the domestic goddess or the struggling, stressed working mum. When really what we should be seeing is couple discussing their diaries as they share childcare responsibilities and manage careers, women picking their children up from childcare after a successful day at work, parents working flexible hours and succeeding. I launched Comms Kick in 2018 when my son was seven months old, which always surprises me when I say it out loud as becoming a mum was the biggest learning curve! From getting used to the new pace of life, so wonderfully written about here, to all the decisions you have to make day to day that seem small to the outsider but are so huge to you, to suddenly being faced with more responsibility than you’ve ever had before, it’s a rollercoaster! One thing I found incredibly frustrating when I started my business post-maternity leave was the assumption that I wasn’t going to take it that seriously or that the income wasn’t vital to me. I've even had people suggest my prices will be lower because I'm a working mum! It hasn't been all negative though. I have had some people work with me because I'm a working mum - they work on their own time and therefore irregular hours and they wanted someone that understood that. So, while I think every parent has done something amazing post-baby just by keeping fed and leaving the house I thought on International Women’s Day it’s important to remind people that becoming a mum doesn’t suddenly mean you also lose your ambition, drive or desire to be really good at something outside the home. I #ChooseToChallenge the perceptions of mothers we are shown day in, day out. You can be a great mum and have a great career (and the measure of great may vary from person to person, the point is YOU can decide!)! Here’s five women that really inspired me when I was asking myself "could I launch a business?":
This poet had a child and afterwards she wrote ‘Nobody Told Me’ a 400 page book of poems and other written word form on the subject of parenthood. It captures loads of stuff I think all parents feel, but in a really beautiful and often hilarious way, and she is not afraid to talk really honestly about the good and the bad. She said about writing it:
“I’m sick of feeling ashamed about things to do with parenthood. About feeling guilty about being bored sometimes, despite the beauty and love of it, about loneliness, about not knowing how I feel about my body as a mum, about trying to be a worker and a parent and a partner, about issues around sex or relationships or feeding or just feeling guilty for everything I do and don’t do well! The more I talk to parents, the more it seems there are a lot of these undercurrents going on.”
Read some of her work on Instagram (@Hollie Poetry) or check her website out.
Professor Sara Seager
Professor Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, well actually she is Professor of Planetary Science and Physics, this is after having two sons. And as I sit here at home as the snow falls with my main goal for today being getting to the post office, what is Sara Seager’s? Oh, it’s just to find and identify another Earth. She has had two books and countless papers published, but, sorry just to reiterate, her job is LOOKING FOR ANOTHER PLANET FOR US TO LIVE ON! I know motherhood is not a competition, but she is cool isn’t she? So far her research has found 42 planets in the ‘habitable zone’ which is pretty remarkable given I can’t find my car keys, find out more here
Karen Blackett OBE
Bit of a PR and marketing niche here. Her twitter profile describes her as:
"WPP U.K. Country Manager, GroupM U.K. CEO, NED Cabinet Office, NED Creative England/CIF, Chancellor Uni of Portsmouth, Dr. Uni of Reading & LSU, exhausted Mum."
But she doesn’t mention that she has featured 5 times in the Power List of Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People, topped the Power List coming in at number 1, being the first Business woman to do so, and was included in the 2015 Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List of Top 10 Influencers, being positioned at number 8 (so my maths means at this point she was also mum to a toddler, so probably potty training, I mean, wow!). I actually first came across Blackett while sat feeding my four month old baby in front of The One Show and found her whole attitude really inspiring. Do follow her on Twitter if you don't already.
Ryan is a funny, Canadian comedian with really nice hair. I don’t know how she gets such nice hair as a working mum, but that’s not why she’s on this list! It always baffles me that comedy is STILL such a male-dominated industry but Ryan hasn’t let that stop her. I love her character in recent Netflix series, The Duchess, which she also created, – showing a badass, creative business-woman and mother all rolled into one.
(Trigger warning, child loss)
Annabel Karmel is well known amongst mums as a baby weaning expert. It was the loss of her daughter and her struggle weaning her son after that awful experience that led her to start turning her recipes into a business. Her book became a bestseller and she is now estimated to be worth £10million. I’m sure none of it can make up for losing her daughter but it’s pretty amazing she picked herself up and made her passion her job. I realise her speaking up against government guidelines to not start weaning until six months (she said advice should not be changed from 17 weeks in Britain where parents understood the importance of sterilising) might have had a business motivation, but I still think it’s good she stuck her head above the parapet and offered parents an alternative opinion.
So that’s it! That’s my five! I hope you found some inspiration there, please share this blog post if you did. I'm always proud to support other women thinking of starting a business or going freelance so if you have any questions, please do get in touch. Chloe, Founder.