Is being a mum relevant to business?

Carolyn Cresswell has only just been awarded the Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year award but already the debate has started over whether it is relevant that Cresswell is also the mother of four children.

I interviewed Cresswell yesterday about her win and I asked her what the award meant for her.

She said it was an opportunity to raise awareness of her business, Carman’s Fine Food, and also a platform to support working mums.

“If you work full-time here [and are a mother] people obviously feel a bit sorry for you,” she told me.

“I am all for pro-choice. I am not saying that every woman needs to work but if we do we need to be supported.”

The topic of being a mum and a business owner was something that Cresswell raised unprompted in our interview. However, SmartCompany readers have pointed out that when women who have children do well it is usually mentioned that they are proud mothers of “x” number of kids, but nothing similar is mentioned for men.

“You certainly don’t hear successful men who are fathers saying that they are proud dads,” Thieryisblogging commented.

“I don’t understand why these statements are always made with reference to women, but not to men. Goodness knows that we certainly have a long way to go in equality and less stereotyping between the sexes.”

I am sure Cresswell is a proud mother, although for the record I didn’t use the word “proud” in my story, still I think our readers probably raise a fair enough point.

It reminds me of the controversy around Marissa Mayer where the entire media focus was on how a woman with a newborn baby can also be a chief executive as opposed to what chance any new chief executive, male or female, has of turning around the ailing fortunes of search giant Yahoo!.

Given all the flak she has copped, Mayer doesn’t like to speak about being a mum (or “mom”) and that’s her choice.

After all, if the new chief executive of Yahoo! was male and had just become a father for the first time it wouldn’t even rate a mention in the press.

But good on Cresswell for being loud and proud about being a parent, what we need is more women AND men talking about how they juggle being successful business people with having a family.

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