Decoding the gender pay gap among white-collar gig workers

Does the gender pay gap persist in freelancing?

The latest research conducted by gig jobs platform FlexingIt and shared exclusively with ET has revealed that women in white-collar gig roles are grappling with the gender pay gap. Male consultants charge an average of 30-35% higher project fees than female consultants. The gap is narrower in the lower years of experience, the gap widens at higher experience levels – which is often when women can seek a greater degree of flexibility.

This is driven in large part by the lack of information on fee levels as well as the inability of women freelancers to confidently present their skills to the market, according to the findings. The platform has more than 80,000 white-collar gig workers and mentors, of whom 30-33% are women. Currently 20% of active mentors are women.

The research also found that currently freelancing as an opportunity for women is under-utilized in India. Experts say that addressing some of the gaps can help as it can be used as a key strategy to address the country’s poor labor force participation rate (LFPR) for women. “Traditional employment requires a basic level of face time and synchronous working. These constraints on flexibility can sometimes limit women’s options at work, contributing to the gender pay gap, especially in the post-pandemic era.” Chandrika Pasricha, Global CEO, FlexingIt, said, Freelancing focuses on the skill and quality of deliverables while supporting remote and asynchronous work.

Why women’s wages lag

reason: Lack of awareness about reliable sources of quality projects

how does it play
While corporate adoption of freelancing worktech platforms is set to increase by 50%, currently only 18% women are leveraging them as a source of quality work.

reason number 2
Persistent gender disparity around project fees

how does it play

  • Only 12% of women consultants check external benchmarks to determine their project fees
  • Will accept only less than 50% of the given project budget
  • An average of 30-35% difference in fee levels for men and women freelancers based on Flexibility It’s tool Phibi, which currently has over 400,000 data points

reason number 3
Women want less pay-schedule flexibility

how does it play

  • Women consultants are willing to go for monthly numbers or get paid for their work at the end of the project. Their male counterparts want payment for hours/days/months as well as advance payment in some cases
  • While 35% of male freelancers get paid per day rate, the same is true for only 17% of female freelancers.
  • More than 80% of women freelancers receive monthly retainer or pay-as-you-go payments after the delivery of their projects.

Freelancing is emerging as a stepping stone to entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is a natural progression for many freelancers. The skills they build by working independently are extendable to building a business – brand building, business development, finance management, interacting with clients and working in teams. Many freelancers in India go freelancing and/or often are starting. Work independently when starting a business or venture

“I have not seen any gender-based pay gap in gig roles, at least not in new age digital cos like ours. Our recruitment from gig workforce is purely based on skills and all salary negotiations are based on whether freelancers What value does it bring to the table – it doesn’t depend on gender at all,” says Krishan Kumar, CEO, SimplyLearn


“For many women who are freelancing, including those on a career break and looking to make a comeback, the primary reason for choosing it is the flexibility that gig opportunities provide. For them, being productive in some form of economic activity Engagement is the main consideration rather than salary. However, as freelancing becomes much more prevalent and the market opens up in the next three-four years, it will give them more confidence to showcase their skills,” says Rajkamal Vempati , Head HR, Axis Bank

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