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News and Trends / Women in Business

New Research Shows Women Freelancers Face a Big Gender Pay Gap

It isn't just an issue in corporate America.
New Research Shows Women Freelancers Face a Big Gender Pay Gap
Image credit: Shutterstock
- Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.
3 min read

The gender wage gap in the United States is a persistent, pervasive issue. While the gap has narrowed over time, Pew Research found in 2015, women were paid 83 percent of what men earn. The World Economic Forum, in its 2016 Global Gender Gap Report found that at the rate we are currently going, women won’t achieve wage parity until 2186.

But the pay gap isn’t only a problem in corporate America. For those who make their living as a freelancer, the issue still remains, despite not having to contend with the structures and hierarchies of a traditional office, according to a new study from client management platform Honeybook.

The company’s analysis of 200,000 invoices found that women make 32 percent less than men for the same job in the creative economy. Women earn roughly $30,700 a year, while men earn more than $45,400.

Related: Only 17 Percent of Venture-Backed Startups Are Led by Women

Of the more than 3,100 creative entrepreneurs polled for the study, 63 percent said they believed men and women were paid equally in creative industries. But there are stark differences, especially for some of the more commonly held creative freelance careers.

Female musicians earn 46 cents to the male dollar, female photographers 60 cents on the dollar, event planners 76 cents on the dollar and female cinematographers 88 cents on the dollar.

The study also found that more than 37 percent of female creative entrepreneurs make less than $9 per hour, while only 20 percent of male creatives earn the same. Twenty-four percent of women creatives make $5 per hour or less, while 11 percent of male creatives earn the same. And on the other end of the spectrum, only 7 percent of women creative entrepreneurs make more than $50 an hour, compared to 19 percent of male creatives.

Related: These Female Entrepreneurs Created a Fake Male Co-Founder to Work Around Sexism. How Well It Worked Is Incredibly Eye Opening.

From an annual revenue standpoint, 20 percent of female creatives and 42 percent of male creatives make more than $50,000 a year. Eight percent of female creatives and 20 percent of male creatives make more than $80,000 per year.

So what is the reason for this disparity? The survey respondents pointed to three central issues: 61 percent said that they thought it had to do with negotiation and women not negotiating for higher pay; 47 percent said it had to do with secrecy around wages and not knowing what male counterparts are being paid; and 40 percent cited “the motherhood penalty” and being penalized for a perceived lack of commitment.

While negotiating is never an easy task, being as prepared as possible and going into the meeting armed with hard numbers about how well you do your job can go a long way towards quelling any anxiety you might have.

Related: Fixing the Pay Gap Starts With Your Salary Negotiation Skills

Do these stats ring true for you? Let us know in the comments.

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