The proportion of women working as contractors is less than half that of men, new figures have shown.
According to official data, obtained by professional services consultancy Procorre, there are just under 1 million female contractors currently working in the UK, representing 8% of working women, compared to 2.5 million men, who represent 15.5% of the male workforce.
Lisa Mangan, relationship manager at Procorre, said that women working on a consultancy basis are “significantly in the minority” compared to their male counterparts.
“On paper, consultancy should be an attractive career choice for more women, given that it offers greater scope for flexibility and potentially a better work-life balance, as well as often comparatively better pay for each hour worked than the average full or part-time employed position,” she said.
“However, taking the plunge is not always an easy decision, particularly for those with young families who may be concerned that there is less financial support for maternity breaks and childcare compared to their employed peers.”
Yet the economic recovery, as well as changes to the childcare voucher scheme to be introduced next year, which will open the scheme up to the self-employed, could encourage more women to consider becoming a contractor in future, claimed Mangan.
“As the economic outlook improves and demand for contractors increases, we expect to see more women look again at how consultancy could work for them as a positive career move. It offers a great deal of variety, the chance for rapid career progression and the opportunity to build a career that fits around other commitments.”
“The change to the childcare voucher regime should also be significant in encouraging more women to consider making the switch.”