Empowering the Freelance Economy

Gender pay gap revealed by occupation: female freelancers take note

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A new UK study sheds light on the gender pay gap in various professions. Could female freelancers be selling themselves short?

The study carried out by Claims.co.uk analysed data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to reveal the occupations with the biggest pay discrepancies between men and women.

Here’s a breakdown of the top ten:

Source: ONS, Claims.co.uk

A cause for concern for female freelancers

While the study focuses on salaried positions, it serves as a warning to female freelancers. The significant gender pay gap highlights the potential for similar discrepancies in freelance rates. Creative industries are also guilty of prolonging the gender pay gap so much in fact that it causing female creatives to lose out on career-breaking project opportunities, especially in marketing and advertising.

“If you’re a female creative then remember that no one cares about your own career quite as much as you do, so be your own biggest advocate,” says Claire Salvetti, a leadership coach specialising in the creative and advertising sectors.

“Speak up and be clear about what matters most to you,” she says in a Campaign report.

In a recent survey, Salvetti conducted with over 50 female creatives, she found some distressing statistics.

  • 76% of respondents believe their gender is currently a disadvantage in their position as a creative.
  • 84% of respondents said they feel under-appreciated in their role, while 78% feel as though they are overlooked to work on the “glory” briefs in creative agencies
  • 92% of respondents agree that if they had more self-belief, they would be more successful at work
  • 90% wish they were more confident at work

Here’s why the gap is not closing:

Salvetti explains in the Campaign article that external sources of encouragement can help with feelings of low confidence, but the most effective way to sustainably boost self-belief is to “uncover the deep beliefs, assumptions and needs we have that fuel how we feel, think and behave.”

She adds, “If we have this self-awareness then we can work on reducing the impact these beliefs and needs have on our confidence.”

Other aspects that could impact female freelancer pay include:

  • Negotiation bias: Women may be less likely to negotiate their rates as aggressively as men, leading to lower pay. However, this is gradually changing within the freelance economy. That is why it is important to chat with fellow freelancers to get a sense if your rate is reasonable or well below market expectations. You also should know your worth, not by the hour, but for the future revenue-generating opportunities a client could make based on any evergreen assets and services you provide.
  • Client stereotypes: Clients might subconsciously undervalue female freelancers in certain fields. Advertising agencies, for example, have a history of giving male creatives the “glory” career-advancing briefs more than their female counterparts, according to new research carried out by leadership coach Claire Salvetti.

Call to action for female freelancers

Research Market Rates: Understand the typical freelance rates for your skills and experience. Use online resources and industry groups to gather data.

Practice Confidence: Develop strong negotiation skills and be confident in your value proposition.

Network with Other Freelancers: Connect with other female freelancers to share experiences, best practices and support each other in advocating for fair pay.

By being aware of the gender pay gap and taking proactive steps, female freelancers can be the proactive force that could close the gap and achieve financial equality in the freelance marketplace.

Related articles:

How to negotiate higher rates and squash the gender pay gap

Contracting: it’s helping to eliminate ageism and the gender pay gap, says study

New gender pay gap study shows how many more days a woman must work to earn as much as a man

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