The number of women turning to self-employment has risen by 57 per cent since 2008, a new report by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed has found.
That is more than double the increase in self-employed men in the same period, with two of the most common reasons for the change being better income (23%) and better work conditions (22%).
The increase in the number of female freelancers (the highly skilled solo self-employed) was even sharper: a 63 per cent rise since 2008. As a result, 42 per cent of all freelancers are now female, compared to 35 per cent of all solo self-employed people.
There has been particularly strong growth in the number of self-employed mothers since 2008: they now account for approximately one in eight self-employed people.
Corinne Stuart, IPSE’s Head of Commercial Development, said: “On International Women’s Day, these figures show just how important self-employment is to women across the UK. Not only does it give them better working conditions and flexibility; it can also offer earning levels they may not be able to find in full-time employment.
“Freelancing is clearly vital for many mothers and carers too, because it gives them the ability to both earn an income and spend time with their children and family. For some, it can also be a means of moving back into the workforce.
“As more and more women move into self-employment, the government must recognise how important this way of working is. It should make a particular effort to ensure self-employed mothers have all the assistance and support they need, for example, by making them eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay – like employees.
“In these uncertain times, the government must do all it can to protect this sector and make sure women have access to the freedom and flexibility of self-employment. Freelancing is, after all, a feminist issue.”