Women are increasingly choosing to work for themselves in order to improve their pay and working conditions, according to new research.
The number of women turning to self-employment has risen by 57% since 2008, according to a new report by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE). That is more than double the increase in self-employed men in the same period.
The increase in the number of highly skilled solo self-employed women has been even sharper: a 63% rise since 2008. It means that 42% of all freelancers are now female.
There has been particularly strong growth in the number of self-employed mothers since 2008: they now account for approximately one in eight self-employed people. Two of the most common reasons for women to go freelance are to get a better income (23%) and to improve their work conditions (24%).
"These figures show just how important self-employment is to women across the UK. Not only does it give them better working conditions and flexibility; it can also offer earning levels they may not be able to find in full-time employment," said Corinne Stuart, IPSE's head of commercial development.
"Freelancing is clearly vital for many mothers and carers too, because it gives them the ability to both earn an income and spend time with their children and family. For some, it can also be a means of moving back into the workforce.
"As more and more women move into self-employment, the government must recognise how important this way of working is. It should make a particular effort to ensure self-employed mothers have all the assistance and support they need, for example, by making them eligible for statutory maternity pay - like employees. In these uncertain times, the government must do all it can to protect this sector and make sure women have access to the freedom and flexibility of self-employment."
Written by Rachel Miller.