Stereotypes and Life Strategies of Hungarian Women

In the frame of project “FEMME – Fostering the Exchange of Practices to Empower Mumpreneurship in Europe” we’re able to get a closer look to women situation in the EU. What we found that women (and men) in most societies still shape their lives in accordance by the framework and norms of patriarchal society and typically make their decisions adapting to the rigid gender roles.

Learning, improving ourselves, setting and achieving goals, feeling useful to others are fundamental part of life for the majority in the EU but the opportunities to realize these abilities are not equally ensured for women and men. Unfortunately, the expansion of female gender roles didn’t bring a change in male roles and didn’t adapt to the reality of labour market structure.

Although being an entrepreneur is an alternative to being an employee, the business sphere is dominated by men as the entrepreneurial role model is still male in the majority of societies.

In Hungary – like in many EU states – due to the different roles and life strategies that society expect from women and men the need or constraint that is determinative for women at certain stages of life to comply with family obligations (caring for a child, sick or elderly relative), that completely or partially excludes them from the labour market.

Hungarian women’s life strategies offered by society can be identified in three distinct groups, strategies in terms of the participation in the workforce:

dependent: primarily involved in housework; long-term absence from labour market

divided: career underlying to family obligations; limited labour market participation

determined: exploiting skills, career-oriented; long-term presence in the labour market.

These strategies are also well-identified among female entrepreneurs since in most cases the business is only an additional activity, money earning an opportunity as many mothers forced to become an entrepreneur due to her life conditions (single parent, one-income household, discrimination etc.). Even though female entrepreneurs and women-led ventures have potential for economic and employment growth the economic and social policy don’t support them on a bigger scale and the policies in connection of female employment and mumpreneurs are mostly concentrating on equal opportunity and female empowerment in terms of encouraging childbirth and – from the latter – to create family and work balance.

These efforts can have positive effects and encourage mothers to become entrepreneurs or at least reenter the labour market but only after we reached real equality and a change in the traditional roles.