Study: Self-employed women still earn less than male peers

COMPARED TO WHEN they were traditionally employed, the majority of self-employed women say they make as much or more money, have more work-life balance, are healthier and are less stressed about work. / COURTESY FRESHBOOKS
COMPARED TO WHEN they were traditionally employed, the majority of self-employed women say they make as much or more money, have more work-life balance, are healthier and are less stressed about work. / COURTESY FRESHBOOKS

PROVIDENCE – A new study on women in the workplace finds that up to 13 million women could quit their traditional jobs over the next five years to work for themselves, but self-employed women still earn 28 percent less than self-employed men.

The 2018 Women in the Independent WorkForce Report was done by FreshBooks and ResearchNow.

Major reasons why women said they choose to leave traditional jobs to work for themselves were workplace discrimination that imposes a glass ceiling on career advancement (70 percent of respondents), and the demands of taking care of their children (84 percent). One-quarter of self-employed women said they are choosing to work less to pursue a better work-life balance.

Most women respondents said they chose working for themselves to enhance their careers; 52 percent said they could not reach their full potential as someone else’s employee; that proportion rose to 61 percent for women of color.

Only 33 percent said they chose self-employment to earn more money.

Among self-employed people, a gender gap in income and access to customers persists. Annual earnings of self-employed professionals in the U.S., according to the FreshBooks report, are $77,540 for men and $56,184 for women.

The study reported that about one-third of these women believe they’re not taken as seriously as their male counterparts and that they have to work harder than men who do the same job. And one-fifth of self-employed women say they have to charge less than their male equivalents to get and keep clients.

Some factors other than gender may influence the pay differentials between women and men. One is the age of the business: 40 percent of women own businesses that are less than 3 years old, compared to 20 percent of men.

Another factor is the age of the independent business owner: 57 percent of self-employed women are under 50 years old, compared to 45 percent of men. Further, self-employed women are twice as likely as men to work part-time: 1 in 10 of these women work for themselves part-time.

Ninety-one percent of women respondents said they made the choice to work independently and the outcomes are mostly positive: 70 percent said they make as much or more money as they did in traditional jobs; 70 percent reported better work-life balance; 60 percent said they were healthier; and 52 percent said they felt less anxiety about their work life.

Mary Lhowe is a PBN contributing writer.

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