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The Great Resignation is one of the most interesting developments to occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than a year, employees have been leaving their jobs in droves, frustrated with their treatment, responsibilities, pay, and more and searching for new opportunities that better fulfill their interests, ambitions, and abilities.
Many participating in the Great Resignation have opted to become self-employed, either working as freelancers or forming their own startups in search of success. Yet, the reasons why different types of workers have chosen the self-employed lifestyle vary — especially along gender lines.
Both male and female employees are participating in the employment exodus and seeking different conditions as self-employed workers, but men and women are choosing to do so for vastly different reasons. Understanding the differing motives behind the decision to leave traditional employment for the self-employed lifestyle could give employers and workers more insight into their options moving forward.
Men Want More Freedom to Be With Family
Women have long been associated with the responsibilities of caring for home and family. However, recent research has found that men are much more likely to leave their jobs in pursuit of greater work-life balance, indicating that men are finally assuming more responsibilities at home and desiring greater flexibility in their careers to enjoy time with their loved ones. The Canadian Survey on Employment and Skills found that 45 percent of men leaving the workforce for self-employed roles cited this reason among their top drivers for their career change.
This shift in male priorities should not come as a surprise. Millennial men, who make up a sizable portion of the workforce, tend to be more interested in family time than men of previous generations. Over 70 percent of millennial fathers desire a 50/50 partnership in child raising as well as other duties associated with caring for the family home. Because modern workplaces tend to be less forgiving of present and active fathers, dads are creating their own self-employed opportunities to achieve the balance they need to find fulfilling success.
Women Want More Opportunity to Excel
In contrast, women are frustrated by being saddled with societal expectations of being the primary caregivers and homemakers in their families. The same survey cited above has only 39 percent of self-employed women looking for greater work-family balance — most likely because their previous employers had made assumptions that they would put family first.
These stereotypical assumptions about women’s priorities continue to stand in the way of gender equality in the workplace, and they are sending more and more women into the self-employed sphere looking for realistic opportunities to get ahead.
In the Survey on Employment and Skills, the reasons women selected for driving their move to self-employment overwhelmingly demonstrated their commitment to utilizing their knowledge and skills to get ahead in their careers.
The survey found that 57 percent of women appreciate being their own boss, which on its own, provides independence from masculine structures that thwart women’s promotions and wage increases. Additionally, women find that self-employment provides better opportunities to serve their clients, likely because they were hindered by male colleagues in traditional employment.
The most recent significant study on self-employment rates between men and women found that men were vastly more likely to pursue self-employment — but that was way back in 2012. After more than a decade of economic change, women are eager for the prospects that self-employment can provide, and they are willing to participate in the Great Resignation to make their career dreams come true.
Tools for Succeeding in Self-employment
To succeed in self-employment, both men and women need certain tools to ensure that they remain productive and get paid. It helps to have a dedicated office space, where one can escape the responsibilities and chaos of home and focus on work. Developing a professional brand is key for connecting with clients on social media and other websites for securing projects. Finally, self-employed workers of all types need an invoice management solution that keeps track of invoice payments, keeping the cash flowing into a self-employed worker’s pockets.
The Great Resignation is a fascinating trend that economists will study for years to come. For now, men and women can benefit from launching their own self-employed endeavors — regardless of their reasons for doing so.