Working as a freelancer or an umbrella contractor is becoming increasingly popular with both men and women – and the trend is set to continue.
Nobody likes to be constrained to restrictive gender roles. As much as women have been chafing under the kinds of traditional rubbish where they’ve been expected to be stay-at-home mums, managing the children and keeping the house clean, men have been just as annoyed at having to be the sole provider, the one who has to get up every day and hustle for dosh while they miss out on spending time with their family.
Well, thanks to self-employment, these gender roles are evolving – and for the better. Working part-time out of the house, often as a freelancer, has freed women to be more than just a frustrated hausfrau with no agency. By the same token, with a second source of income from the contract work of their spouses, men have been finding it easier to embrace part-time work themselves in order to be more than just an absentee father and husband who slouches off to work every morning.
And I’m not just making this up, either. There are cold, hard facts to back it up, courtesy of the Working Futures report from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). Tasked with finding out how Brits want to work in the coming years, the report reveals how as more women enter the workforce on a part-time basis, an increasing number of men are thinking of reducing their own hours in turn. In fact, over the next ten years, there could be as many as 20 per cent more men turning to part-time work in an effort to get some of that balance in their lives, the UKCES data says. The number of women entering both full-time and part-time employment over that same period? A combined 14 per cent, not as high but still comparable.
To be honest I think this is absolutely brilliant. Gender equality in employment, as facilitated by working for yourself or through an umbrella company, will make all of us happier as it can lead to a much better work/life balance. Whether or not a female contractor or freelancer is going to earn the same rate as a male one with the same skills and expertise is another issue altogether of course; the male/female pay gap is a rather pernicious hanger-on born out of centuries of patriarchal thought and its resultant sexism, but hey, progress is progress, right?