Female freelancers had reason to celebrate on Saturday
Research commissioned by PCG, the association for independent professionals, which shows there has been a large rise in female freelancers, including the number of freelance mothers increasing by 24% from 2011 to 2013.
The ONS Labour Market statistics show the number of women choosing self-employment rose almost five times as fast as women taking permanent jobs in the last year and 14 times faster in the last quarter. Additionally, the number of self-employed women rose faster than men going solo.
So why are women leading the way?
“The best thing about freelancing is being your own boss”
Julie Stewart has worked as a freelancer for more than 30 years in a wide range of roles including programming and designing. Based in Scarborough, she has worked in various sectors including manufacturing, local councils and telecoms. Julie is also the figurehead of the UK’s organisation for freelancers. As Chairman of PCG, Julie is responsible for representing one of the fastest growing sectors of the business landscape on a variety of complex issues and ensuring their voices are heard within Westminster and the media.
“The best thing about freelancing is being your own boss. You’re in charge of your time, the work you choose, and how to achieve a more effective work/life balance, so it’s unsurprising that more and more people are going freelance.
“It’s great that women are leading the way in choosing to go solo considering there is a common misconception that women don’t have the self-confidence to do it. Freelancers – be they male or female, have a strong, specialist skills base and it’s important for everyone to put themselves out there and shout about what they’re good at.”
“I can go to my children’s sports day without any hassle”
Lyndsey Miles is a freelance eCommerce Consultant based in the Peak District and deals with website strategies for her clients.
Miles went freelance after the birth of her first child seven years ago by chance when a former colleague asked if she was available to work on a project. She soon realised that freelancing fitted in perfectly with her lifestyle and her freelance career has now gone from strength to strength, effectively balancing the needs of her clients and her children.
Miles says the biggest benefit of freelancing is the ability to be in charge of her own time, “I had always been dissatisfied in permanent employment because of the constraints of being in an office and someone else being in charge. Freelancing means I no longer have to ask for anyone’s approval. I can go to my children’s sports day without any hassle.”
As well as having more time with her children, Miles also says that freelancing means you can determine your own career path, with the ability to gradually change trajectory if you wish to and learn new skills. Miles set up her own website for freelance parents (freelanceparents.co.uk) which allowed her to use a new skill of creative writing (unlike business writing for clients).
Would she ever go back to permanent employment?
“I will never go back, and I know so many other freelancers who would never go back. My husband has also just gone freelance after seeing the lifestyle it has given me. It might seem like a risk with both parents going freelance and not having a steady income, but it’s been brilliant and has made a real difference to our family.”
Miles believes that freelancing allows women to fully utilise their skills whilst still putting their family’s needs ahead of their clients. She added:
“There are countless women who find themselves unable or unwilling to go back to the highly skilled roles that they did before having children, because their employer doesn’t offer the flexibility that they need. If & lsquo;flexible working arrangements’ are available, they usually mean only a reduction in fixed hours, not the ability to fit the work around your family’s needs.
“Freelancing offers this total flexibility – a mother can work when childcare is available, work after bedtime, and even work when older children are around the home. A part-time freelancer doesn’t have the same stigma as a part-time employee – clients don’t expect to have your full availability.”
“By freelancing, I work with a variety of people and organisations which I love”
Jordana Golbourn is a freelance theatre maker and facilitator, working with young people in creative theatre and uses drama as a tool to influence other areas of their education. She went freelance as soon as she came out of university three years ago.
“Whilst I was at university, they prepared us for how to work freelance, such as seminars, because by the nature of the work, it is often freelance contracts than permanent employment because it is largely project work.”
Golbourn believes the best thing about freelancing is the variety that it offers.
“By freelancing, I work with a variety of people and organisations which I love. I’m not sure I’m suited to the traditional 9 to 5 because I get bored quite easily. I think it’s exciting to know that every day is different and I start the year, or even the month, not knowing what I’ll be doing.”