In the 1960s, it was unheard of for a woman to be elected CEO. And while many more women were finding their way into the office environment, they were doing so under a glass ceiling. These days there are many female CEOs and industry leaders, but for the most part that glass ceiling still exists.
Towards the end of 2016 the Workplace Gender Equality Agency – working on behalf of the Australian Government — reported that women still earned significantly less than men. They account for half of the workforce, are just as dedicated, just as hard-working and just as skilled, yet they take home 16 cents less on the dollar. For women working with companies in the ASX200, the amount is nearly a third less.
This is not confined to Australia. At the same time the above study was being conducted a UK organisation looked into the FTSE100, an index on the London Stock Exchange, and determined that just 7 of the 100 companies were run by women.
This is so innate in business that it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. However, there is one industry that women control, an industry that is gaining ground and an industry that could soon dictate how all of us work. That industry is online freelancing.
Women in Freelancing
As someone who made their money as a freelancer and someone who uses these sites daily—both as an employer and an employee—it hasn’t escaped my attention that this industry is dominated by women. I began freelancing when sites like Upwork, Freelancer and Guru were in their infancy. Back then, there was a sprinkling of students and pensioners, and a significant number of homemakers.
Over the years, many of those homemakers became web masters, writers, artists and designers. They continued to use the sites to earn and they looked to them when they needed to outsource. Before long, many others joined them.
There were over 55 million freelancers in the US in 2016, accounting for more than a third of the workforce. This was not exclusive to online freelancing, but it accounted for a larger percentage of it. One of the biggest players in this industry, PeoplePerHour, recently reported that they had more female freelancers than male freelancers, and that they earned more than $6 per hour on average. In fact, whether they were working as a writer, a designer or on data entry, they were paid more.
What Does This Mean?
This bodes well for equality in the work place. I recently worked for a website titled Hair Growth Pills where I was tasked with finding writers, designers and coders. I used three different freelancing portals and received over 100 applications. More than 60 of those were female, which ties-in with the statistics quoted above. Nothing surprising there. However, once you focused primarily on Australia, the UK and the US, women outnumbered men more than 2 to 1. This wasn’t a one-off. It has happened with many projects and is becoming more prevalent.
From the perspective of an employer, those women are often friendlier, more professional and, judging by their profiles, more experienced. They often quote more, but they are always the ones shortlisted because they are best suited for the job.
It wasn’t until I created this project that I started taking note of this fact. Afterwards, I looked through my client history and discovered that of over 750 shortlisted freelancers, more than 500 were female; and of over 50 freelancers I have hired, only 5 were male.
I’m not sexist. In fact, until recently, I wasn’t even aware. But it seems to me that the glass ceiling has finally cracked—it just happened out of sight. And while women don’t always get respect in the offline world, they more than make up for it in the online one.