Women Freelancers Get Paid Less Too???

railway-1758208_1280It took me a long time to realize the value of what I have to offer as a freelance writer. Now, I am fully aware that this was in large part due to my own lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, something I am still working to improve to this day. I didn’t grow up with the subconscious belief that I was worth being paid well for my work or that I deserved to earn good money.

Maybe this is in part because I’m a woman. After all, it has been proven that around the world men have higher self-esteem than women and this difference is even more pronounced in Western countries. And maybe it is this that holds women back in their freelance careers.

Let me clarify. We all know there is still a huge issue regarding the gender pay gap. We know that women in just about every industry are paid less than their male counterparts for equal work. In the U.S., women earn an average of 19.5% less than men. And in Canada the pay gap is even greater, with women earning an average of 31% less than their male counterparts.

I know, it is horrifying that we are nearing the end of the 20-teens and it looks like our time-1739629_1280daughters might still be facing the gender pay gap issue when they enter the workforce. But when we look at freelancing, the problem persists. On average, self-employed women earn 28% less than self-employed men. On top of that, women are paid late more often than men! Now, here is the biggest problem I have with this pay gap statistic…

We set our own rates!!!

As women freelancers, WE are the ones who determine what we get paid. Unlike working for a company, where we have to accept the pay our employer sets, as freelancers we are free to charge whatever we want. So, why in the hell are we earning less than men?

I hope you see the problem with this. We seem to be doing this to ourselves. And research actually shows that women freelancers undervalue themselves more than men with a similar freelance profile.

I ask you here and now — what are we going to do about this?

It’s one thing for someone else, some corporate entity, to undervalue us and pay us less than our male counterparts. It’s another thing entirely for us to do it to ourselves. Am I right?

Looking at the numbers, I see that I have done this to myself big time over the years and I’ve never even been conscious of it. Nor have I ever felt that I was being paid a lower fee from a client simply because I’m a woman. I set my fees and if my client doesn’t want to pay that much, I take my services elsewhere. Not to say I am not willing to negotiate on occasion, but I have limits to how low I’ll go based on what I expect to earn.

Clearly, my expectations have been too low.

I can see now that I am setting my fees lower than the men who do the same work I do. Of course, I know I have confidence and esteem issues, but still. I actually got to a point in my career and life a few years ago where it was sink or swim. Raise my rates or lose the stability I was trying to establish for my children. Even then, I didn’t raise my rates as high as the men in my industry.

This enrages me to no end. The question is what can we do about it? Here are my thoughts:

  • Do your homework and determine what the men in your industry are charging.Then raise your rates to match theirs.

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  • As women freelancers, we need to start a conversation. We need to share our rates with each other and determine as a group what is fair. Then we can begin to change those rates as a collective. We’ll be harder to ignore.
  • Focus not on who we are, but what we have to offer. Create a brand that is well-respected and charge accordingly.

Now, I REALLY want to know what you think. I want to know your experience with getting paid. I want to know if you have had any gender issues when it comes to the amount you get paid for your work. I want to know anything you want to share on the matter.

Let’s get a conversation going, ladies! The comments section awaits 🙂

And in the next post, I’ll talk about how to set your rates.

Cheers, Karen

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