Mumpreneurs in the intersection of gender, business and the Swedish welfare state
The research group EMBLA is a virtual excellence centre within gender and entrepreneurship studies.
EMBLA was formed in 2012 by researchers from four universities – Helene Ahl, Karin Berglund, Katarina Pettersson and Malin Tillmar.
Mumpreneurs – women entrepreneurs who are also mothers – is a growing phenomenon. Assuming that women are the primary child-carers, the literature attributes the rise of mumpreneurship to two factors: the need for a second income to support a family and the lack of good quality and affordable day care.
Only the first is valid in Sweden, where family-friendly welfare policies make it easier to combine family and work than elsewhere. The policies are tied to a person's income and assume fulltime employment. A mumpreneur is offered no guaranteed income, and might lose it altogether should she put her business on hold for maternity leave.
Against this background, why do some mothers still choose an entrepreneurial path in Sweden? Is it opportunity based or is it a response to changing labour market conditions? What ventures do they start, and what are their ventures' growth prospects? Do they offer viable careers for their owners and job creation for society, or are low income jobs being replaced by small subsistence businesses?
This project uses a multi-method design, combining longitudinal panel data with multiple case studies to create an understanding of the phenomenon, in terms of size, characteristics and outcomes as well as explanatory reasons for its emergence. It is grounded in entrepreneurship literature, and will contribute new empirical knowledge about mumpreneurs in Sweden, as well as context, critique and nuance to mainstream entrepreneurship research, and will add new dimensions to theories on firm growth.
Contributions relevant for society and labor market policy include:
- knowledge of the viability (and desirability) of mothers' entrepreneurship
- how the welfare system is adapted or not to the needs of mothers
- whether mothers are pushed or pulled into entrepreneurship
- how the increase of mumpreneurship is related to recent labor market changes and
- the growth potential of their ventures and therefore the reasons to support it for the economy.
Project time: 2017-2020
Funded by the Swedish Research Council Project.
Project leader: Helene Ahl