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Wednesday, 5 August 2020 - 8:35am

Nottingham researchers are looking for entrepreneurs who are mothers to share lockdown experiences

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Researchers are looking for mothers who are entrepreneurs to share their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic, as part of new research into the societal impact of COVID.

A multidisciplinary team from the University of Nottingham, the University of Hertfordshire, Swansea University and the University of York, is studying how female entrepreneurs with children have managed the dual challenges of running a business and managing childcare through the turbulent months of the pandemic.

Women can participate in the study by taking part in a short survey that captures their experiences of lockdown life – juggling childcare with the demands of their business – through a mix of photographs and comments. This will generate useful data to provide better support for mother entrepreneurs as the pandemic evolves, and into the ‘new normal’ future.

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For busy mother entrepreneurs or mumpreneurs, the challenge to navigate their business safely through the pandemic is compounded by a parallel challenge to cope with unexpected family responsibilities.

COVID-19 creates a particularly acute problem for working women. Recent evidence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests, for example, that women have taken on the majority of childcare during the pandemic and that mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers1.

Dr Simona Spedale, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management at Nottingham University Business School, said: “We already know how hard female entrepreneurs work to establish and grow their businesses, as well as managing domestic duties – now throw in a pandemic, with children home from school, in many cases indefinitely! This will have had an enormous impact on these women, their businesses and their personal wellbeing.

“We need to know exactly how women, their businesses and their families were – and still are – affected and, as they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. By asking mum entrepreneurs to submit a few photographs and some comments, we will develop a snapshot of the practical and emotional challenges of juggling all of these responsibilities.”

Dr Anna Watson, study lead and Reader in Marketing at the University of Hertfordshire commented: “Women are already facing barriers in business, with issues around access to funding and balancing caring responsibilities, and only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female.

“A report by the HM Treasury2 found that losing the entrepreneurial gender gap between women and men could add an additional £250 billion in GVA to the UK economy. Covid-19 has magnified some of the challenges facing mother entrepreneurs and our research can help inform the development of support tailored to their needs as they navigate the ‘new normal’ of running a business in the midst of a pandemic.”

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