Female freelancers earn less than men despite working harder

New report highlights enduring gender pay gap in creative industries

Female freelancers earn less than men despite working harder
Steve Randall

The gender pay gap is refusing to go away in creative industries according to a new report.

Looking at the earnings of freelancers in the US and Canada, the survey from HoneyBook, a financial management platform for freelancers and solopreneurs, found that female freelancers earn 11% less than male counterparts despite taking on more projects.

The difference in annual income has narrowed from 32% in 2017 but rather than equal pay for men and women, this has been achieved by women working harder to make up for 26% less income per project.

“I see established female business owners who cannot pay themselves consistently and struggle to manage the ebbs and flows of their income,” said Keina Newell, an entrepreneur and financial coach who helps women get clear on their financial goals. “Business finances can feel isolating and women oftentimes don’t know how or who to ask for credible help. Education and coming together as a community to raise awareness of the gender pay gap is the best way to close it.” 

Why is there a gap?
The reasons for the pay gap among freelance creatives - such as those in marketing, event planning, web design, and photography – include women undervaluing their services (45% of respondents said this) and wage secrecy (27%).

Almost 3 in 10 women felt that they were penalized by the view that they cannot balance work and parental responsibilities, although just 12% of men felt this was true.

Of the parents surveyed, nearly half of women (47%) have felt the need to hide their parenting responsibilities from clients for fear it will impact their pay. Just 14% of men have felt the same.  

Female respondents said that they worry about not being able to make a living doing what they love and noted a concern about saving for retirement.

Note: This story has been updated due to recalculated data provided by HoneyBook.