Last month, it was reported that the Nixon Williams report showed a surge in the number of female IT contractors – rising from 16,568 in 2016 to 20,648 in 2018. That’s a massive jump of 24.6%.
The same report also demonstrated that self-employment among IT professionals is also on the up, rising much more quickly than the numbers of permanent employees in the same sector. There was a 4.5% increase in the number of IT contractors, compared to just a 3.9% increase in the number of IT employees. That said, numbers for the latter are higher overall, with 701,000 employees versus 125,012 contractors.
It’s safe to assume that a big proportion of these new IT contractors are, in fact, women, suggesting it’s a great time for women to take the plunge into the self-employed life.
Why is it such a good time for women in IT?
Nixon Williams’ CEO, Derek Kelly offered this reasoning. “The increase in the proportion of the IT workforce operating as contractors has been driven by demand from both IT professionals and the end users of their skills. The shift in the composition of the IT workforce since the financial crisis is doubly remarkable because much of the change is due to an influx of women into contracting.
“Contracting has always been regarded as riskier than employment, but that perception has changed with the emergence of the gig economy and the erosion of employee rights and benefits. Freelancing increasingly is seen as a career as much as a lifestyle choice. In areas which suffer from chronic skills shortages, such as IT and engineering, many contractors are rarely out of work, and higher levels of pay generally more than compensate for any gaps between contracts.”
“The current economic uncertainty,” he added, “is making the use of contractors increasingly attractive to organisations. With future demand so hard to predict many organisations are deferring hiring decisions and turning to contractors to provide additional capacity.”
Why is contracting so attractive to women?
The gender pay gap is definitely a driving factor as going self-employed enables women to set their own rates of pay rather than constantly being paid less than their male colleagues. However, another driving force can be childcare.
Rightly or wrongly, women still tend to shoulder the burden of childcare and are more likely to seek flexible working arrangements than their male partners for this reason. Being self-employed allows women to dictate their working hours, affording them the opportunity to find a work-life balance that suits them best. It allows the women to dictate her working hours and not worry that they might be refused for ‘business reasons’.
And in IT, which is a booming sector where contractors are desirable, women can really thrive.
So, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge into IT contracting, remember to speak to the team at Kingsbridge. We can help you arrange your contractor insurance so you’re completely covered. Call us on 01242 808740 or go online.