Being self-employed as a millennial woman is not exactly an area of great financial equality. HoneyBook's survey of its 50,000 clients, all of whom are self-employed, discovered that women averaged $29,830 income, while men averaged $43,643 — a 32 percent income difference. And these are the people doing well enough to use a bespoke creative industry consultancy. It's often argued that part of the problem with gender pay gaps is that women are more inclined towards part-time work, but these statistics don't back that up. For one, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that men are more likely to be self-employed than women; 12.3 percent of men in the U.S. were self-employed in 2015, compared to 7.5 percent of women. For another, HoneyBook's analysis demonstrates that in the same industries, women are being paid substantially less for freelance or creative work. Female photographers were paid 59.56 percent less, female cinematographers over 87 percent less, and female event planners almost 76 percent less.
"It’s clear that wage gaps continue to hold women back from nearly every industry, but very little information was publicly available about the creative economy," HoneyBook co-founder Shadiah Sigala tells Bustle. "With a community of 85 percent female-owned businesses, we want to understand how this wage gap impacts women and men to empower our community to buoy the creative economy."
While HoneyBook's work examined a vast range of clients, many of whom aren't millennials, this sort of data is really important for our generation, which often idealizes working for yourself. A whopping 67 percent of all millennials want to be self-employed some day, but only 2 percent of us qualified in 2014, likely because of the financial risks involved and the high debt levels of this generation.
The Wells Fargo study shows that millennial women, freelance or not, are earning less than millennial men. The median income of the women they interviewed was $43,000, while for men it was $63,000. Only 51 percent of women thought they were saving enough for future needs versus 68 percent of men, only 62 percent felt in control of their financial lives (versus 78 percent of men), and only 50 percent thought they were saving enough for retirement (versus 68 percent of men). More women than men said they had a "significant amount" of debt, couldn't afford to pay for their healthcare, and were underemployed in their current work. And 72 percent of women were happy to go to work every day, versus 77 percent of men.