As freelancing gains momentum, a new category of women in the workplace is forming. These women, like myself, are creating the career paths they desire. Freelancing gives you the freedom to set your own hours, take on as much or as little work as you want, use your greatest talents while avoiding the areas where you don’t shine, and exponentially increase your salary.
Women make up more than half of the freelancers working in the US. It’s not surprising because there is a still a huge amount of disparity between the male and female work experience. Freelancing has numerous benefits for women that the traditional workplace doesn’t.
No Glass Ceilings
For as long as women have been working, glass ceilings have slowed or stopped their career progress. Instead of expending energy trying to become one of the only 24 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, why not create your own business and give yourself the title you want? As a freelancer, your success is based on how hard (and smart) you work instead of outdated hierarchical systems, boy’s clubs, or gender-biased career tracking.
Better Work / Life Balance
Women are still responsible for most of the household duties even when they hold traditional 9-5 jobs. To complicate matters, the bulk of childcare also falls on the female’s shoulders. Freelancing gives women more time in the home and more flexibility with their schedules. Often a job with “flexible hours” isn’t very flexible. You may deal with inefficient in-person meetings or outdated office cultures praising time spent at the desk over quality of completed work.
Women may need to take the kids to school, pick up groceries, and keep the household in order during the day. This could lead to hours looking something like this:
6-8 am : Working
8-11 am : Errands and child care
11-4 pm : Working
4-7 pm : Family time
7-9 pm : Working
Even if this schedule was approved, there would undoubtedly be pressure from coworkers to maintain a more standard schedule. Ask a Manager often receives emails complaining about coworker’s flexible schedules. What’s worse, even when you’ve earned vacation time, you may feel too pressured to take it. Many companies that offer unlimited vacation find that their employees end up using less time than those with traditional Paid Time Off allowances. Until the antiquated culture of “butts in chairs = hard work” dies, it’s going to be a struggle to have a truly flexible schedule.
With freelancing, you have much more control of not only when you work, but how much work you take on. If you need to balance your household, you can do so. If you want to spend 60 hours a week growing your business, it’s your choice. Ideally, no single client will own enough of your time to demand that you maintain traditional working hours. Seek out clients who are understanding of the changing work landscape. I’ve found my best clients are often other freelancers, entrepreneurs, and people working in small startups.
Greater Earning Potential
On average, women are making $.78 for every $1 a man makes. Freelancing can close the gap. Women can demand the pay they deserve for the work they do. In a traditional position, you have some control over your initial salary agreement and whether you receive yearly increases, bonuses or promotions. Sadly, women tend to leave money on the table in negotiations more often than men. As a freelancer, you’re able to set your own rate, adjust it per task or client, and raise rates as you gain skills instead of waiting for a yearly review to plead your case.
In an area with a low cost-of-living, such as my hometown, it’s difficult to find a high-paying job, especially in a creative field. The options are limited and there’s a lot of competition. Many people commute into the suburbs or Chicago to earn higher paychecks and work in their preferred industry. Freelancing allows people in rural areas to earn “big city” wages.
Until traditional career paths become an equal playing field for both genders, freelancing is a great option to pursue the career you’ve imagined for yourself. Whether you are currently in college, working a 9-5 job, or are a stay-at-home mom, you can start freelancing by building up a side hustle of one-off projects and part-time jobs. Once you’ve had a taste of the freelancing life, you won’t want to go back to the status quo.