GigaOm's Women make up the majority of online freelancers, study says covers research from Zinnov showing that women comprise 55% of the workers on online talent sites like Elance and oDesk.
This is consistent with our research on U.S. independent workers. We found that women comprise 53% of this group.
I haven't been able to get a copy of the Zinnov study, but both the GigaOm article and an article on the study in Venture Beat quote Zinnov as saying work/life balance is the key reason women are choosing to freelance online and why they outnumber men.
We're not so sure.
Work/life balance clearly is an important reason women become and stay independent workers. This is especially true for women with children.
But as the GigaOm article points out and our research confirms, men also care about work/life balance. We only saw minor statistical differences between men and women on this in our research on this topic.
Another explanation why female freelancers outnumber men may be occupations.
As you can see from the chart below (from the U.S. BLS), women comprise more than 50% of employment in the services industries and less than 50% in the production industries.
Education is another potential cause. Our research shows independent workers are better educated than the overall workforce. On average women, and especially younger women, are better educated than men. For example, 57% of today's U.S. college students are female.
This education gap has favored women for several decades and is a key driver behind one of my favorite trends - It's a She-conomy. It's reasonable to conclude that the education gap is also, at least in part, leading to more female freelancers.
Of course the real answer is a combination of factors, including work/life balance issues.
But I think putting it all on work/life balance is a mistake that plays to our stereotypes while understating the growing role women are playing across the economy and society.