Women and the Gig Economy

African American women at desk coding on her laptop and using a mobile phone

The traditional model of a job as full-time work with a single employer is changing as more Americans make their living as independent workers.

Whether it’s having a consulting contract, driving an Uber or taking on temporary freelance assignments, these types of jobs account for a significant share of the American workforce. According to the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, more than a quarter of workers participate in the gig economy in some capacity. And more than 1 in 10 rely on gig work for their primary income.

Gig jobs don’t offer the economic stability that a regular paycheck and health insurance from an employer can provide.

There’s no definitive breakdown of gig workers by gender, but according to the Future of Work initiative, “men are substantially more likely than women to participate in online labor platforms [such as Uber], and to rely on non-traditional work full-time. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to earn supplemental income and to work part-time than men. Women are also more likely to engage in multi-level or direct marketing and to sell goods online.”

Gig work has some distinct advantages to people seeking more control over their work lives, most notably the ability to set one’s own schedule. But the downside is that gig jobs don’t offer the economic stability that a regular paycheck from an employer can provide. What’s more, they don’t offer benefits such as medical and sick leave, vacation, health insurance, retirement savings plans and more. Proposals to improve gig work include portable benefits as well as policies to ensure stronger worker protections and standards.