Freelancing and the Gender Pay Gap

This blog is run as part of Pandle’s ‘women in business’ series, celebrating women who are freelancers, directors and entrepreneurs by offering helpful advice.

A recent report by The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and Kinston University revealed that while men still dominate in the self-employed sector by nearly 2:1, the gender difference among freelancers specifically is far smaller. Just 57% are men and 43% are women.

With female freelancer numbers growing at around twice the rate of male numbers, it seems likely that freelancing will become gender-balanced in the UK sooner rather than later.

However, while freelancer numbers might be growing ever more equal gender-wise, it seems their pay may not be.

The gender pay gap

Freelance pay is of course influenced by many different factors, many of which aren’t in play when we consider employee pay, and to some extent, freelancers set their own rates. So it’s easy to presume that a gender pay gap doesn’t exist in freelancing and that if it does, it’s harder to assign blame.

Unfortunately, though, research by freelance digital platform YunoJuno found that there is a gender pay gap in freelancing.

“The uncomfortable truth is that the gender pay gap exists for freelancers,” says their report. “Looking at all disciplines on YunoJuno and actual contract information from the last 12 months, we see that men’s day rates are on average £15 per day higher than women’s.”

However, the gender pay gap varied hugely across disciplines. YunoJuno found that men in the creative industries have an average day rate of £319, which was £15 more than the average day rate women were paid in the same sector. Men’s rates were also noticeably higher in design, film and motion, studio and UX disciplines.

However, the gender pay gap isn’t entirely one way, according to their figures. In the strategy sector, women earned significantly more than men on average, while in client services, they earned nearly half as much again as men.

Is the gap narrowing?

The good news is that the gender pay gap seems to be narrowing. Research by online services platform Bidvine, which was released on Equal Pay Day 2017, showed that the gender pay gap on their site had decreased to an average of 1.9% in the previous 12 months.

Again, in some sectors such as wedding photography, women are earning more, while in others such as music tuition, personal training and cleaning, there was very little or no pay gap.

Both male and female self-employed music teachers had earnt an average of £28 per hour in the previous year.

Russ Morgan, co-founder of said: “It’s great to see that, at least among the skilled professionals on our site, the gender pay gap is virtually extinct. The explosion of freelance and self-employed workers has seen a shift in how people value the work they do, and what their customers see as value for money for a job well-done.

Because Bidvine connects customers with professionals that can meet their exact needs, perhaps gender has become less of an issue.”

Freelancers, have you noticed a gender pay gap in your sector or, if you work across more than one sector, variations in the pay gap? Let us know about your experiences.

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