The Covid-19 pandemic has put a question mark on the way women in the United States have been working. Lots have been written about millions of people — particularly women — abandoning the traditional workforce because of pandemic pressures. Many of those women became their bosses, many working as freelancers. According to a new report, over 50% of newcomers to self-employment last year were female citing.
Even as unemployment has soared to new heights during the pandemic, a report published by American financial service company Payoneer recently reveals that freelancers have gained from a surge in demand and even higher pay during the last two years.
However, the pay has not increased for women freelancers as much. According to the report, “While more and more women are entering into freelancing, their income remains much less than their male counterparts. The gap widened during the pandemic. Respondents who were surveyed said that the gender pay gap is most pronounced in North America, where, on average, women reported earning $37 an hour. Compared to this, men reported making $52 per hour on average.
Payoneer surveyed more than 2,000 freelancers from over 100 countries to find out how they have been doing since the pandemic outbreak. While over 30% of respondents said there was a higher demand for their service since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, 45% said the market was steady. The growth in demand mainly was in sectors like finance, marketing, and programming.
Interestingly, women in South America reported that they earned more than $4 per hour compared to their male counterparts. The higher earnings of women freelancers in South America were attributed to the higher-paid industries that are more in demand in these regions.
Honestly speaking, women have been hit harder than men due to the pandemic. Women have been hit harder partially because they are engaged in businesses that are most vulnerable to restrictions and job losses, such as childcare, retail, and hospitality industries. Moreover, women are more likely to shoulder most caregiving responsibilities in their households.
On the other hand, a report released by Freelancer Income Report shows some optimistic findings. According to this report, women’s participation in the freelance workforce gained momentum during the pandemic, increasing from 24% in the 2020 Global Freelancer Report to 29% in the 2022 report. At the same time, women have reported higher satisfaction levels than their male counterparts, and divulging the existing potential for freelancing offers women an attractive alternative to the traditional workforce.
Payoneer chief revenue officer Robert Clarkson wrote in the report, “As the nature of the workforce becomes more fluid, more businesses realize the value of a flexible resource they can call upon when needed.” He added, “At the same time, more workers realize that freelancing is a career path which pays well, offers greater flexibility, and is open to skilled professions, including finance, marking, and programming. The freelance economy empowers individuals from anywhere in the world to set their hours, rate, and work in roles that best suit their skill set while taking advantage of various opportunities.”
The question is, why are more and more women opting for freelancing today. Apart from the difficulties of working at home and workplace, women need freedom. It is not surprising to note that 72% of self-employed women said that their mental health was better when they were their own bosses. Compared to this, only 64% of men feel the same way. About the same percentage have a better work-life balance, and nearly as many earn the same as or more than in traditional jobs.
The report also found that the global average hourly freelance rate rose from $21 an hour in 2020 to $29 an hour today. In addition, 40% of freelancers report charging more for their services than during the pandemic. Younger freelancers are the biggest benefactor, reporting increasing demand and hourly rates.
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