The Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA) has released new insights into the South African freelance landscape through its 2017-2018 SA Media Freelance Industry and Rates Report. The report states that SA’s freelance media sector is dominated by women; a whopping 67% of local freelancers are female. We decided to dig into this topic and celebrate being a woman in freelancing.
According to SAFREA’s article, freelancers are “seen as highly skilled, professional consultants who must be viewed as an alternative channel to a highly skilled labour force.” This includes Master degree holders and BTech specialists.
We gathered information from our community of freelancers to find out what they specialise in. 43% of the female participants are freelance writers, another 24% of the women work in the digital design field, while 27% of the freelancers filled other roles such as web developers or personal consultants.
This begs the question: Why are there so many women in freelancing? There seems to be a myriad of reasons among the participants, but a few of them definitely stood out more than others. An overwhelming number of women stated that they felt underappreciated and over-skilled for the positions they were holding in the corporate world. “No career growth, an industry attitude of low salaries and crazy long hours led me to start my own thing,” says Cindy Wright, an events planner.
Marthie De Wet, a graphic designer, seconds this: “After thirteen years with a corporate body, I realised I was ‘down skilling’ as we were cheap labour stuck in a bureaucracy with no room for growth or skills development.”
Another standout reason women prefer freelancing is in order to take better care of their families. Many women are still the core caretakers of the children in the family (not to mention the chores) and find it very difficult to be there for their kids while working on a strict office schedule. “Doing what I love and being able to be there for my young kids while earning more than I was, suits me. But it’s long hours and far more demanding than a corporate environment,” says Candice Mitchell, a talent development consultant.
Lastly, some women just prefer having the flexibility of working on their own terms. Deborah Butler, a front-end developer, falls into this category. “I started freelancing as I wanted the freedom to choose where and when I work. I also didn’t enjoy working in an office environment and most of the times thought that the decisions management made were bad ones and I could’ve done better myself.”
Setephina Kedibone, a training coordinator, just didn’t fit the cookie-cutter description of a corporate employee. “It matches my personality traits. I couldn’t keep up the routine and freelancing gives me an opportunity to explore and be my own boss.”
It is evident that women are ruling the local freelancing sphere. We believe that all freelancers are capable, skilled and very hard working and dedicated individuals. And this month, we would like to tip our hat to the fierce females that dominate this field. We see you, ladies!