Freelancers. Independent workers. There are various names for people who decide to work outside of a nine-to-five, traditional corporate environment. The freelancer industry predated the pandemic. More and more people opt for a more independent working life as people leave their corporate jobs in favor of flexible work. While many criticize the risks of freelance life, that hasn’t stopped people from making that huge step. Women, in particular, have found success and view freelance work as a better fit for their needs and lifestyle.

How the Pandemic and Great Resignation Impacted Women in the Workforce

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global workforce is still apparent nearly two years later. Every industry was impacted, from mask mandates to government lockdowns to work-from-home mandates. Unfortunately, many studies have found that women were hugely affected by the pandemic’s impact on the workforce.

In 2020, job loss rapidly swept the country and the world at the beginning of the pandemic. Women were a large part of these affected workforces. In a report by Axios Media, it was stated that women “Were overrepresented in hard-hit industries like hospitality and service.” Other industries such as leisure, hospitality, education, and health care were also severely hit.

After waves of job cuts and lay-offs, another job market phenomenon occurred. Many call it the “Great Resignation,” as an enormous percentage of workers, especially women, quit their jobs to permanently leave their positions or pursue another career. In most households, women were more likely than men to resign from their jobs to take on a caretaker role for their children or elderly family members. Stay-at-home policies, school closures, and the cost of healthcare were factors in women pivoting from their careers to being full-time caretakers and homemakers.

Solution: Women Return to Work Through the Freelance Industry

Defining the freelance landscape has been an ever-changing discussion. Three years ago, the freelance industry experienced growth as workers looked for flexible, independent income opportunities. Within the industry, women find their own ways to earn money on their own terms. In 2021, a survey showed that women now make up approximately 46% of the freelance or independent contracting workforce. That number increased from 33% since 2017.

While many people think ride-share companies make up most of the freelance industry, there are many more types of “gig work” that people can engage with. Women in the freelance landscape have primarily engaged with work that falls into these three categories:
1. Professional Freelance
2. Direct Selling
3. Service Platform

A great example of a female-led space is Etsy, where 85% of independent sellers are women. Women also have a strong presence in the multi-level or direct marketing job types, and their numbers are growing in delivery and driving roles.

Flexible Work: Why It’s Here to Stay

Flexibility is often used to describe why the gig economy is so attractive to workers. You can find flexibility in your job type, working hours, rates, etc. This is especially beneficial for women who may pursue different levels of commitment. Some may focus on how much they can earn, while others try to find supplemental income that works alongside their busy schedule or other entrepreneurial ventures. For example, a DoorDash survey found that 80% of women cited flexibility because they chose that job. 60% said their job flexibility allowed them to do other things independently and focus on caring for their families.

A study has found that women “are more likely to earn supplemental income and work part-time than men.” With many types of freelance jobs being remote or work-from-home, women can choose from opportunities that match their needs, schedule, and interests.

Another issue women can better address while in the gig economy is burnout. Women in traditional employment have experienced increased stress and depression related to their jobs. Impostor syndrome and a lack of work/life balance have also been reported. Self-care can be easier to focus on when you’re in the freelance industry and have more control over your work schedule and its demands.

Women Will Continue to Define Their Success

As the freelance industry grows, we’ll see more and more women finding ways to define their success. From creators to resellers to skilled freelancers and more, there are many paths to advance your life and goals. As one of the Philippines’ leading job recruitment platforms, Talentum PH is here to support workers of all genders, backgrounds, and experiences. From equal wages and opportunities to providing an encouraging environment where women in the freelance industry can grow, we look forward to the day when women in the workplace can always feel confident, powerful, and welcomed.

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