Issue Season


Document Type

Refereed Article


Self-employment is often viewed as a more desirable work arrangement than working as an employee for a firm. Women are pushed into self-employment due to organizational factors, such as a shrinking workforce or limited job opportunities, while being attracted to self-employment by the many psychological and social benefits (e.g., independence, flexibility, work-life balance, job satisfaction). Despite more women moving into self-employment, this type of employment still has different financial consequences for men and women. This article investigates whether a pay gap exists for self-employed women after controlling for industry, occupation, and hours worked and seeks to quantify the gender wage gap for the self-employed. A sample of 467 self-employed independent contractors in the United States was examined from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce. The results indicate a large financial disparity between self-employed women and men. On average men earned $54,959 as compared to women who earned on average $28,554. Regardless of the parity in education, work experience, number of hours worked, or occupations, women earn less than men in self-employment. Findings suggest the existence of the glass cage—a phenomenon whereby self-employed women earn significantly less than self-employed men with limited abilities to narrow the economic inequality.



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