Not all independents were created equal. Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed many flavors of the various classifications around the 30.2 million people who call themselves “Independent,” including a specific glimpse at high-earners and Millennials.
Today, we explore the age-old question of gender differences, which add additional facets to our understanding of the independent workforce.
While men and women decide to go independent in roughly equal numbers, a statistic that holds true for all years of MBO Partners State of Independence in America study, the reasons behind going—and staying—independent vary significantly by gender.
On one hand, men and women tend to view independent work similarly – and feel equally satisfied with their work and the challenges of independence, although more women report being challenged by a lack of predictable income (565) than men do (47%).
Women Value Flexibility; Men Value Control & Income
Overall, women value independence for its flexibility – it’s a viable career path that leads to fulfilling work that fits with their lifestyle –68% of women said flexibility is more important than making the most money, compared with 58% of men. In addition, 64% of flexibility was a key reason they chose to become independent, compared with 53% of men.
Men tend to focus more on being their own boss, being in control, and maximizing their income. Men are more likely (48%) to say they earn more working on their own than women are (41%). Men said they always wanted to be their own boss (66%) at higher rates than women (57%). Additionally, more men than women said they choose independent work to better control their career, by a 47% to 32% margin.
Passion is Paramount
Both men and women indicate a high level of interest in work fulfillment: 72% of women say “Doing something I like is more important than making the most money.” In comparison, most men, although at slightly lower rates (63%) responded in the affirmative to the same question.
Making “A Difference” Counts
78% of women – ten points higher than men — said they like feeling that they make a difference with their work.
Money Isn’t Equal
Independent men are likely to earn more than independent women, although the numbers may be slightly misleading. One in five women, versus slightly less than one in ten men, report that being able to have time for children was a key reason for becoming independent.
But women also report working less than men, with 59% of women working 35 or more hours per week while 71% of men work 35 hours or more. This difference in hours worked explains a significant amount of that income difference. It also reflects the greater emphasis women report placing on work/life flexibility and their need to spend time on non-work matters of importance.
Want to learn more about independents in America? Check out the full State of Independence online.