Gender pay gap also exists among self-employed people

Freelancers are impacted by a gender salary gap, with a 16 percent hourly wage disparity for self-employed womenwho have the same education and experience as their male counterparts. This is shown by an online study by Knab bank, involving 10,000 self-employed people. The salary disparity is greatest among highly skilled self-employed.Women with a college or university degree earn 13 percent less per hour than their male counterparts with equivalent education and experience, notes Het Parool newspaper.

Despite this large pay difference, according to the study’s author, Casper Zwart, both genders are equally satisfied with their hourly pay rate. ‘In both groups, 65 percent are happy with their hourly rate. This may meanthat female self-employed people are not aware of this gap,’ says Zwart.

In 2022, the (adjusted) salaries of women in the business community were about 7% lower than that of males, according to Statistics Netherlands. According to Statistics Netherlands, the pay gap between men and women is the smallest in the government sector. The Knab study highlighted that the government sector is an industry in which self-employed people demand the highest hourly wages on average, allowing them to reach the biggest yearly turnover, together with colleagues working in the IT sector.

The cleaning sector has the highest pay disparity between men and women, with women earning about half as much as men, states FD newspaper. Accountants and journalists also have a significant pay gap, while female self-employed individuals in fact earn more in healthcare and event management.

Wage differences across sectors
The study sought to get insight into the rates that freelancers charge in various industries, according to Het Parool.Self-employed individuals in government, commercial services and IT charge the highest rates: the typical rate there is roughly 100 euros per hour. The catering business pays the lowest rates, averaging 49 euros per hour.

According to the data, self-employed workers create an average annual turnover of roughly

€100,000. However, there are significant disparities here as well, Het Parool notes. The typical yearly turnover for government, corporate services, and ICT is between 120,000 and 140,000 euros. A self-employed worker working inthe sports and leisure sector earns little over €50,000 per year on average. Zwart explains that these turnovers record the gross income, which deducts all business costs – such as materials, insurance and pension premiums – and of course income tax.

Reasons for the pay gap
One reason for the variation in hourly rates is the ability to negotiate the rate, according to Het Parool. The survey found that 40% of women believe they bargain well, compared to nearly 60% of males. ‘The rates of men and women who say they negotiate very well are virtually the same,’ Zwart sees. As a result, men’s average hourly wageis higher because they negotiate better.

The research found that the IT sector was an exception, as women charge approximately the same rates as men inthis sector. ‘This may be explained by the fact that there is a large shortage of women in that sector. 90 percent of the self-employed people in IT in Knab’s study are men,’ says Zwart.

How to earn more?
According to Adine Faber-Versluis, a financial expert, women should not settle on pay quickly. ‘When women have to make agreements about their remuneration with their client, they are more likely to settle for what is offeredcompared to men,’ she says. ‘I think women find it more important to be liked. Yes, that is partly due to women, but certainly also to companies that offer women less as standard,’ Faber-Versluis remarks. ‘Women should be a bittougher: they should say that they are sure that men earn more, and that that is discriminatory, in an extreme case.’

Faber-Versluis adds that it is important to not accept every assignment, especially if financial expectations are not met. ‘If there is no match between you and a client, especially in financial terms, you can safely let a job go. It’s takeit or leave it. Every time you take a poorly paid job, it deprives you of the opportunity to work for a higher rate,’ she concludes.

Written by Nicole Bea Kerr