More and more women are deciding not to have children, either for their professional development or because it is not in their life plan. However, those who have nephews and nieces spend time with them and adore them with all their hearts. They even support the parents with the expenses of the little ones: they are the PANKs.
The acronym PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids) has been used for over a decade. Melanie Notkin, a marketing expert, coined the term in 2007, and the following year she founded the digital platform Savvy Auntie, which generates content for this segment.
Who are the PANKs?
They are independent women with purchasing power and, for various reasons, have decided not to have children. Still, they have a special relationship with their nephews and nieces or their friends’ children.
More than a definition of this sector, Melanie Notkin and the marketing strategist Michael De Cicco saw a potential market in this segment of the population. They discovered that 28% of women in the United States are part of the PANKs, in whom they observed significant social and economic influence.
The study “The Power of the PANK: Engaging New Digital Influencers”, carried out by the communication agency Weber Shandwick, details that this group is key to the market. It is notable for children’s products.
According to this analysis, some of the characteristics of the PANK are:
- They spend money on themselves, improving their quality of life.
- They financially support their nephews and nieces.
- They influence the lives of their nieces and nephews and are a support for their parents.
- They have a lot of interaction in social networks and function in the digital environment.
- Their opinion influences the decisions of their family and circle of friends.
- They investigate the quality of the products they consume.
The importance of aunts
The help of other women in the family to those who are mothers is a little-studied phenomenon since it is a practically invisible task, indicates the research “The PANK phenomenon – Deferred maternity or a new form of maternity?”, carried out by the University National of Mar del Plata.
The study indicates that the PANKs play a vital role in the family circle, as they form the support network of the mothers of the family, not only in parenting but also in continuing their school or work development.
“The possibility of salaried parents to take their children to nurseries depended enormously on the collaboration of sisters or sisters-in-law. Yet despite their importance, aunts have been largely invisible in discussions of child welfare”.
And in Mexico?
In our country, the number of children per woman has been reduced in recent years. It went from 6.9 children per woman, in the 1960s, to 1.9 in 2020, according to data from the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (Inegi).
Despite this indicator, there is still social pressure on women to be mothers; even in some sectors, the idea prevails that motherhood is an obligation rather than a choice, explained Alejandra Collado Campos, a specialist in Women’s Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
“Women with a higher academic level have fewer children, do not have them, or have them much later. In contrast, women with primary schooling have more than two children or are younger mothers, which causes them to stop studying. These data make us understand why many women decide to postpone motherhood”.
She highlighted that even though some ideas such as considering women “were born to be mothers” have been dynamited little by little, and motherhood is promoted as a choice, violent discourses prevail. Women are judged for not having children.
“Deciding not to be a mother is attributed to the fact that something is not working well with that woman, and she is symbolically punished by representing her as the spinster, bitter, angry, or “the one that nobody wanted”, and it is not conceivable that she can be complete and be happy, develop fully, without being a mother. However, that negative charge does not exist towards men who decide not to be a father”.
Remember that you have the right to decide whether or not you want to have children; it is a personal decision that no one should criticize.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
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