Every once in a while, I’ll get a full-time job offer from a client. These have been well-paying gigs, where I would work for people I know and like. But so far, I’ve always said “No, thanks.”
To some people, this might seem crazy. But when I look at the hours I have available in a day, a traditional job doesn’t fit in right now. I’m very passionate about my work and do earn a full-time living, but I also really like doing things with my family on the weekdays. These bright spots in my day would get stripped away and reserved for the weekends if I commuted into New York City and got home at 8 pm. And, for many reasons–some imposed by society’s expectations and some by ourselves–it just seems harder for women to be able to declare ourselves MIA from the home front during the day so we can focus 100% on work on a punch-clock schedule than it is for men. I know I would be at a competitive disadvantage in the mono-focus world of traditional jobs, with less opportunities for growth than those who don’t have as many responsibilities at home. So I keep doing what I’m doing.
It turns out many women are freelancing for similar reasons, according to MBO Partners’ new report, the 2014 State of Independence in America. This is a big study of more than 11,000 people.
As the report puts it, “Women tend to see independence as a path leading to fulfilling work that fits into their lifestyle. Men, on the other hand, tend to focus on being their own boss and maximizing their income.”
* 65% of women said flexibility was a key reason they chose to become independent versus 54% of men.
* 20% of women said being able to have time for children is a key reason for their going freelance, vs. 6% of men. For women ages 34 to 49, 26% said having time for children was a key reason.
* 71% of women said flexibility is more important than making the most money versus 58% of men.
* 76% of women agreed that“Doing something I like is more important than
making the most money” — vs. 69% of men.
* 81% of women responded that they like feeling that they make a difference with their work, compared to 71% of men.
* 48% of men say they earn more working on their own vs. 40% of women.
* 68% of men said they always wanted to be their own boss vs. 61% of women.
* 44% of men said they chose independent work to better control their career, compared to one third of the women.
What’s interesting to me is that the gaps between men and women, while significant, aren’t all that wide. Perhaps that reflects the fact that men today are becoming more involved in life outside of work than earlier generations were–and want many of the same things women now do. Many jobs don’t let people live full lives outside of their cubicles and these independent folks just can’t give up their freedom to do what matters to them.