Women benefit from contracting, study finds

A new study has found that women who adopt self-employment benefit greatly from working as a contractor or a freelancer.

Most people who work the old nine-to-five daily grind do so because they just think there’s no alternative. Even the idea of going it alone – becoming a sole trader like an umbrella company contractor, a freelancer, or a consultant – might be too intimidating for the average salaryman. In some circles, the nasty spectre of sexism has arisen as well, with the assumptions being women are much less likely to be successful when it comes to working as a contractor; however a new research study from a major accountancy firm certainly gives that the lie.

The survey, which took the temperature of 750 microbusiness owners in the UK, took careful note of women in particular. The results, which were published in conjunction with International Women’s Day, revealed that the female entrepreneurs and sole traders were riding high on the flexibility of freelancing – especially when it came to finding that perfect work/life balance.

How good do women have it in the contracting workforce? Well, a full 51 per cent reported that their stress levels have dropped by at least a moderate amount. Additionally, just over 1 in 5 – or 21 per cent – found that their stress actually worsened. Not a bad ratio, if you ask me; in fact, the figures for male contractors from the survey were skewed about 10 percentage points towards the negative, with 31 per cent more stressed and only 40 per cent less anxious.

So maybe the narrative needs to change. We need to stop looking at women as shrinking violets when it comes to business and start realising that all that “weaker sex” talk is absolute rubbish. Not only that, but we can’t keep thinking that men are the ultimate masters of business, not when they’re obviously much less well-equipped to deal with the vicissitudes of being a freelancer or a contractor – at least when it comes to this study anyway.

Yes, I know what you’re going to say: one single study isn’t exactly definitive for the entire British freelancing community. Well, maybe not, but it’s definitive for these 750 contract workers. You can extrapolate outwards if you like, or you can dispute it – but whatever you do, it’s obvious that there are at least a few female contractors out there that are putting the lads to shame with their business aplomb, or don’t you agree?

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