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What jobs have the biggest and smallest freelance gender pay gap?

Women's rights have come a long way in the last half-century. But we need to do (much) more, especially when it comes to equal pay for the sexes. Figures from the US Census Bureau reveal female workers are still earning 17% less than their male counterparts.

And going freelance won't help women break through the corporate glass ceiling. A survey by FreshBooks found that male freelancers out-earn women by 28%.

ZenBusiness decided to do a deep dive into the freelance gender pay gap. Using data from freelance platform Upwork and other sources, it created several charts showing which industries have the biggest and smallest freelance gender pay gap.

And it put together a seven-step guide to help women set higher rates and earn more.

How much do freelancers charge?

According to the research from ZenBusiness, the average male freelancer makes $68.58 p/h (pay per hour), while a female freelancer picks up just $46.30 p/h.

Women charge 48% less than men for freelance work, new study finds

That's a per-hour pay gap of $22.28 p/h, which equates to around 48%. In other words, men earn almost half as much more for doing the same freelance jobs and gigs.

The largest freelance pay gap

After crunching the numbers, ZenBusiness researchers found that the freelance accounting and consulting industry has the largest gender pay gap. Overall, men offering these types of freelance services charge (and get paid) an extra $33 p/h.

The widest pay gaps in specific job roles are in accounting and business analysis, where men make over $20 more p/h.

Thankfully, there's far more pay parity in some of the other accounting and consulting roles ZenBuiness looked at. The gender pay gap in bookkeeping and management consulting is less than $5 p/h. And females working as freelance HR Admin consultants actually earn more than men.

The widest gender pay discrepancy

DevOps engineers are highly skilled IT professionals who work with software developers, system operators, and other production IT staff to oversee code releases and new pieces of software.

It's a complex and challenging role. And it's always in high demand. DevOps are the most recruited people on LinkedIn.

The most skilled and experienced DevOps professionals can expect to earn well over $100 p/h - as long as they are men. The average p/h rate for female DevOps specialists is just $30. Shocking. That $70 pay gap is the biggest gender pay discrepancy of any single role in the study.

Things aren't much better for women trying to make a freelance career in IT systems administration. They earn over $50 p/h. It sounds pretty impressive, but they're still making over $40 less p/h than the male freelance system administrators.

The freelance industry where men and women (almost) earn the same

A look at freelance pay in the creative industries paints a much fairer picture. In the 12 creative freelance roles that ZenBuiness looked at, the widest gender pay disparities are in presentation design ($10.44 p/h) and interior graphics ($10.61.)

It's less than $5 p/h in audio editing, brand identity design, and 3D modeling roles.

And there are several creative freelance roles where women can expect to make more than men, including motion graphics, video and image editing, and graphic design.

Near perfect pay parity

Things are (almost) perfectly equal in the world of freelance UX/UI design. The gender pay gap in this new and exciting industry is just $0.03. And that's weighted in favor of the girls.

Female desktop software developers working freelance are close to earning salaries reflecting their true value. They need to take home less than $1 p/h more to be on par with the men doing similar roles.

Unfortunately, we can't say the same for most of the other freelance software development and data science roles. And there's lots of work to be done to ensure women have the same opportunities to succeed in these highly paid tech roles. Currently, nearly 80% of computer programmers or coders are men.

Girls Who Code is one of the many nonprofit organizations looking to address this worrying gender imbalance. It's helping to increase the number of women in computer science by equipping young women with the computing skills and confidence to write code and write their own futures.

Freelance rate in sales and marketing

LinkedIn data shows that women account for 60% of all freelance sales and marketing roles. But they're still lagging behind the men in terms of pay.

Male freelancers command higher hourly rates for content strategy, lead generation, marketing automation, and search engine optimization. On average, men freelancing in these roles make between $15-25 p/h more than women.

But the biggest pay gap is in freelance email marketing, where men make $130 p/h. Women earn $69.70 p/h.

Search engine marketing is the only freelance role in the study where women make significantly more than men. On average, female freelance SEO marketers earn $87.50 p/h; the men make over $20 less p/h ($66.95.)

Writing and translation

There's a definite glass ceiling for female freelancers in business writing. They earn $67.72 p/h. Compared to the $91.33 p/h rate that male freelancers charge, female business writers are underpaid by over $20 p/h.

The other writing and translation gigs included in the study are far more equitable regarding gender pay. Many have near equal pay between men and women. The gender pay gap in creative, technical, and content writing is under $1.
The Freelancer Pay Gap

Earning what you deserve

So what can women do to close the pay gap and earn what they deserve?

ZenBuiness put together seven tips on how to set the proper freelance rates for your skill level. They are:
  • Know your market
  • Understand your clients
  • Factor in expenses
  • Account for days off
  • NEVER undersell yourself
  • Get comfortable talking about money
  • Be flexible
Everybody should be judged (and paid) on their merits and abilities. So check out the seven tips in more detail below and use them to start earning what you're really worth.

The Freelancer Pay Gap is Real: Here’s How You Can Earn the Rates You Deserve - infographic

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