According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average gender pay gap for a full-time worker in the United States is about 20%. This means that women working full-time jobs earn 80% as much as their male counterparts for equal work.
The gender pay gap conversation is not new. In fact, until the 1960s, newspapers published separate job listings for men and women. It wasn’t until the passage of the Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963 that it became illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job. Yet since then, nothing has radically changed.
Much research has been done looking at why this is a persistent social problem. There are studies that say women settle for less and that men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise. And when women do, they tend to ask for 30% less than men do. The list goes on, with a variety of weak justifications as to why the discrepancy is still so prevalent in modern-day society.
That said, the majority of research done on the pay gap to date has been around full-time employment. But we live in a different world now, one where the labor market is changing on an almost daily basis. What about women who do not have a single full-time employer? What about skilled female freelancers and women who take on a side hustle? Do they see the same type of discriminatory behavior as that of their full-time counterparts?
There are some studies that say the gender pay gap does exist in the freelance economy. This could be because the gap in the traditional employee environment is carried over when female freelancers first begin working with clients. Many judge their pay rates by what they were earning in their old jobs. Therefore, it makes sense that research shows evidence of women feeling the need to charge less than men for their services from the start.
But freelancing is on the rise. In 2018, it is estimated that in the top 25 cities in the U.S. for skilled freelancing, these workers contributed a combined $135 billion to the cities’ economies. In the U.K. over the past 10 years, the number of highly skilled female freelancers has increased by 63%. There is a reason freelancing is on the rise, and there is a reason women are attracted to it: more equal pay, specifically on platforms, along with more flexibility.
On Fiverr, we found that there is only a .4% difference between what female freelancers and male freelancers are making on a per-project basis, with males making only a fraction more than their female counterparts. To put that into perspective, it means that for every $100 a female makes, males are making $100.04. This is extremely significant given the whopping 20% difference that exists in the corporate world.
However, female freelancers receive more work than men, leading to higher earnings overall. Females are profiting from 9% more projects from customers per month than men. It is because of the extremely small difference in pay per project, and women’s ability to retain business while getting new business, that the average income per freelancer since the beginning of 2019 is higher for (U.S.) females than males.
While the gap on the Fiverr platform is virtually nonexistent and, in a way, favors women, we are not ignorant of the fact that the gap for female freelancers working in the offline world may still have a way to go. On freelancing platforms, sellers are more often than not judged on the quality of work versus their gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion. They are judged based on the credentials on their profile, a visible portfolio, and reviews from past clients. However, in the offline freelancing world, women are more likely to work part-time than men and charge less than men among a slew of other things.
It is imperative that we as a society start to value work not based on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation but on the experience and skills of the person doing the work and the quality of their output. There is still a lot of work to do, but it is reassuring to see the progress that has been made for platform-based freelancers.
Gali Arnon is the chief marketing officer of Fiverr, overseeing all of the company’s global marketing and communications efforts