No, PANK isn’t another way of saying pink in a country accent. PANK is a new acronym used to describe a market of women that, until now, have been overlooked. It stands for Professional Aunt, No Kids; a term coined by Melanie Notkin founder of SavvyAuntie.com to describe her websites demographic. PANKs are digital influencers like myself who play a financially meaningful role in the lives of other people’s kids, are active on social media and influence the purchasing decisions of those around them.
The rise of PANKs is important because we live in a world that is obsessed with when a woman becomes a mother. No matter what she has achieved career wise, in pop culture becoming a mother is still the greatest thing a female can do with her life. It’s created a societal standard that women, even highly successful ones like Jennifer Aniston, should be looked down upon because they are not mothers.
The PANK acronym shows that a shift is starting to happen in our society. No longer are career driven women being called childless spinsters. Instead, we now have a term that celebrates this childless status and acknowledges that women who choose this alternative lifestyle play a major role and have untapped influence and purchasing power.
More and more people under the age of 30 are being encouraged to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Forbes highlights this trend with their annual 30 Under 30 nominations. In Southeast Asia, I predict we will start to see the PANKs demographic explode as more women are encouraged and given access to entrepreneurship skills and resources.
As women start investing more time into building their own business, they are going to have less time to meet the societal pressure to settle down and have kids by 30. Besides the societal pressure in this region to get married and have kids, there is a cultural subset that by the age of 30 it’s time to settle down before your biological clock implodes. In Asia, if you need to enter motherhood on the cusp of your third decade, you need to invest time into finding a suitable partner. Time is the most precious thing when it comes to launching a startup venture. So this is where PANKs presents an alternative lifestyle for more women in Southeast Asia who are business professionals and entrepreneurs.
For many founders, their startup is their child. With time being the most precious thing when it comes to launching a successful startup venture, PANKs represents an excellent alternative lifestyle for focused career women in Southeast Asia who aren’t ready to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood and the demands of the business world.
It is absolutely possible and even applauded for women who are able to run a startup as a mother with children. There is also the ugly side that if not balanced well, it can easily lead to burnout. Startup culture encompasses high learning curves, the ability to move anywhere, low living costs and infinite work hours. Throw the heavy responsibility of motherhood into the mix, that is a steep mountain to climb and the incredible women out there who do it deserve recognition in taking on some of the two most challenging things in life: starting a business and becoming a parent.
Even if you aren’t a PANK yourself, if you want to get ahead of the curve, it’s time to consider how your business can target this influential demographic. For marketers, it means this segment has a larger disposable income as they don’t have to stretch their income to support dependents.
With nearly two-thirds of PANKs reporting that they are glad they aren’t parents themselves, this demographic is reclaiming the word “aunt” from its old-fashioned, stuffy clutches and breathing new life into the word. Aunts are now successful women with disposable income who are disrupting and crushing the business world.
It’s a demographic that is giving birth to a new generation of trailblazing female startup founders and executives. These women are unapologetic when it comes to achieving their career goals, These women are unhindered by fulfilling gender roles and societal norms. I for one, cannot wait to see more PANKs enter and challenge the current ecosystem within the business world. Welcome PANKS to the new world!