You're Worth it | Why female contractors need to charge more for less

Why female contractors need to charge more for less

Deep Dive

Are female contractors selling themselves short when it comes to their day rate? New data says yes, and by a significant margin. But why are they doing this and what can we do to help female freelancers stop low-balling themselves.

While the gender pay gap has remained relatively the same in 2022 as it was last year, with women earning 90p for every £1 men earn for similar work [ONS, Gender Pay Gap in the UK], one of the areas the ONS fails to cover every year is self-employment. But SJD, the UK’s largest specialist contractor accountancy firm, has released the results of its Annual Contractor Survey, which revealed that female freelancers charged roughly £250 per day less than their male counterparts.

According to the results, around half of male respondents (48 %) charge between £500 and £749 per day, but only 35 % of women fall into the same bracket, with the majority (47 %) charging between £250-499 as a daily rate for their services.

And according to IPSE research from 2020, men earn 43% more in the self-employed sector, which is a huge disparity from the employed market, with just a 17% pay gap. And while it’s still injustice, and indicative of a society that undervalues women and overvalues men, this time, the sisters, to paraphrase the song, are doing it to themselves.

HR Grapevine spoke to two of SJD’s self-employment experts – one female, one male, to get their perspective on the reasons for women undercutting themselves and how we can help.

Samantha Reading, director at SJD, said, "There’s lots of research to suggest that women can be reluctant to have seemingly 'awkward' or uncomfortable conversations; especially when it comes to pay. But with figures showing that female freelancers are charging significantly less than their male counterparts, more needs to be done to empower women to have these difficult conversations and ensure they're being paid for the value they provide.

“More diversification across the self-employed workforce is a good thing for businesses”

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