SAN FRANCISCO — A new survey of more than 1,000 women with side hustles reveals that the top three reasons women choose independent work are: flexibility (44 percent), income (38 percent) and entrepreneurship (25 percent). Commissioned by BabyQuip, Ruby Ribbon and UrbanSitter, “Women in the Gig Economy 2018” provides an in-depth look at a cross section of women who make income working side hustles either as their sole source of income or as a complement to full-time work. The findings show that the majority (95 percent) of women with side hustles find the work fulfilling and nearly a third (32 percent) say they plan to continue doing independent flexible work forever.
The gig economy is steadily reshaping the workforce as evidenced by the May 2018 Gig Economy Index, which reported that roughly 40 percent of the U.S. workforce makes 40 percent of its income through gig work. “Women in the Gig Economy 2018” sought to examine the landscape as it pertains specifically to women who have chosen side hustles to earn supplementary or primary income. The resulting data creates a snapshot of how and why women gig in 2018.
When asked why they choose to side hustle, “flexibility” was the most frequent answer, with 44 percent of women indicating it is one of the primary reasons.
More specifically, when rating how important various aspects of their gig economy work was to them, 65 percent of respondents indicated flexibility is “extremely important,” with another 30 percent saying it is “very important.” In all, flexibility is important to 95 percent of respondents. What’s more, women with children under age 5 were more likely to select “more time with children” (54 percent), another form of flexibility, as the reason they gig.
“Even in an era of historically high employment, women are choosing a side hustle,” said Anna Zornosa, CEO of Ruby Ribbon. “In spite of the growing demand for full-time workers, these findings indicate that women are going to continue with their gig economy jobs, which offer them fulfillment and flexibility, as well as a satisfactory income.”
Income is Important
While flexibility is the leading reason women report they gig, income is a close second. Overall, 38 percent of women indicated they side hustle to “earn a good income.” When asked to rate how much importance they place on various aspects of their side hustles, “earning money” was most likely to be rated “extremely important” (66 percent).
More than half of respondents (54 percent) reported adding over $500 to their monthly household incomes through their side hustles. Most (57 percent) reported that their hourly earnings were below $20, with the balance (43 percent) reporting earning $20 or more per hour. Women were most likely to report they gigged between 5 and 9 hours a week.
Most women reported they are either “somewhat” satisfied (56 percent) or “extremely” satisfied (20 percent) with the money they earn. Only 12 percent of women report being dissatisfied with their earnings. The survey found that women who have been doing this work for 3 or more years enjoy higher earnings, with 59 percent earning $500 or more and over a third (36 percent) earning over $999 per month.
Women most commonly report that they use their side hustle earnings to cover general household expenses like mortgage and rent, car payments and food costs. When considering only age, women in their 20s are the most likely age group to use earnings to pay off student loans and other debt, while women in their 50s and 60s are the most likely age groups to use side gig income to save for retirement. The survey also found that most prefer to have an independent contractor relationship with the company that provides their side hustle opportunities (61 percent), rather than being traditional employees (12 percent).
“The gig economy appeals to women of all ages, and we’re not surprised that the ways they use their side hustle incomes differs by life stage,” said Fran Maier, Founder and CEO of BabyQuip. “What excites us is that they enjoy this kind of work and we are looking forward to creating great opportunities for them at any age or life stage.”
Entrepreneurship is Evolving
Entrepreneurship was the third most popular answer (25 percent) to the question asking participants why they gig. More than half of the women surveyed (58 percent) rated “build my own business” as being “very important” or “extremely important.”
Additionally, respondents value the skills they are acquiring through their side hustles with 72 percent of women acquiring “customer service” skills and just under half learning various marketing skills, including sales (44 percent), marketing and advertising (43 percent), social media marketing (42 percent) and public relations (41 percent).
“Side hustles aren’t new to women. Many were gigging before the term was ever coined,” said Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter. “But with the availability of more robust gig platforms and marketplaces today, it is easier for women to find and succeed at side hustles that offer the flexibility and money they need, while also allowing them to acquire new professional skills and become entrepreneurs at any stage in life. It’s truly a winning proposition.”