CXO

Report: Why women work in the gig economy

A survey of women working in the gig economy explores why women are drawn to these jobs and what the drawbacks are. Here's what the study shows.


Today, on Equal Pay Day, remember: There's still a 20% wage gap between men and women.

The Future of Gig Work is Female, a report by Hyperwallet release on Tuesday, takes a look at how women have been impacted by the rise of the gig economy, which allows many to land jobs (like taxi driving or freelance coding) that have traditionally been monopolized by men. The report, which surveyed 2,000 female gig workers in the US, explores the reasons why women have taken gig jobs, the income they make, which jobs are the most popular for women, and the drawbacks of gig work for women, among other issues.

Here are the main findings:

1. Most popular types of gig work

Female gig workers were most drawn to professional freelance work (such as work offered on platforms like Upwork), direct selling (selling makeup for Mary Kay, for instance), and service work (through websites such as Rover.com or TaskRabbit).

2. Demographics

Some 58% of female gig workers surveyed were between 18-35 years old, 30% were 35-50, and 12% were 51-70. Most were educated, with 88% of female gig workers reporting that they had completed at least some college. And 70% said they were the primary caregivers for their family.

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Image: Hyperwallet

3. Reasons for taking gig jobs

Women are underrepresented and paid less than their male peers in the tech sphere. Not only that, but work in that field can often be stressful—in fact, 48% of former tech workers included in the survey said they left their jobs because of stress and lack of flexibility, and turned instead to gig work. For female legal workers, that figure is 42%. Out of the total number of female gig workers, 32% said they took on the work because they wanted to leave more stressful jobs. Twenty-eight percent needed time to care for a family member. Wanting a career change was the reason cited by 23% of female gig workers. And 14% turned to gig work after being laid off.

4. Percentage of total income

Sixty-three percent of female gig workers said they relied on gig work as their primary source of income. And more than half of female gig workers, 61%, reported that they wanted their gig work to be full-time. For freelance workers, that number was 68%. For ride-sharing workers, the figure dropped to 52%. But despite these figures, 62% of female gig workers made under $10,000 per year before taxes.

5. Gender equality

The report shows that 82% of female gig workers see their jobs as providing an opportunity for equal pay, whereas only half of that number, 41%, see their potential for making equal pay in traditional jobs. A third of female gig workers (33%) reported that they have used a username that is gender-neutral, in an effort to ensure equal treatment.

SEE: 10 tools to help your company improve diversity (TechRepublic)

6. Recommending gig work

While almost all female gig workers (90%) said they would recommend gig work to a female friend, more than half, 57%, said they do not want their children to take gig work, which highlights that these jobs are still far from ideal.

While there are many benefits of gig work over traditional jobs for women, including increased flexibility (reported as a benefit by 96% of respondents) and perceived equal treatment, there are also some major drawbacks. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed reported inconsistent income, and 88% reported a lack of benefits as big problems with the work.

Data for gig work is still sparse, though the US Department of Labor plans to publish a full report in May 2017.

Interested in taking action to support equality for women today? Lyft is making strides to address equal pay for equal work by partnering with LeanIn.Org and donating 20% of profits from rides taken between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. today to programs that support women and families, including Dress for Success, Feeding America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and AAUW.

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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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