Gender equality in the workplace has been a widely talked about topic across the media, government and industry for many years now. However, discussions have almost exclusively focused on employees. At IPSE, we're championing the positive experiences of women in self-employment whilst also campaigning for action to reduce the gender pay gap and improve access to training and maternity benefits.

The number of solo self-employed women in the UK has increased by 59 per cent since 2008, with freelance women now comprising almost half (46%) of the freelance workforce. We also know that over two in five women (44%) have been in self-employment for over nine years, proving self-employment offers a long-term career for many women. In spite of self-employment being a popular route for many women, there are still many obstacles including inadequate Maternity Allowance for working mothers, a rising cost of childcare, the gender pay gap and a reduced accessibility to training.


Key recommendations


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Bring Maternity Allowance for self-empoyed mothers closer in line with Statutory Maternity Pay

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Statutory Sick Pay should be extended to the self-employed and reformed to exclude an earnings threshold


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Government should invest in low-cost childcare

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Make training for the self-employed easier to access

Read our latest report


Women in self-employment in 2022

This report outlines the size of the female self-employed sector, reviewing demographic and occupational changes since 2020 whilst also reviewing the experiences of women in self-employment. The report then concludes with a series of policy recommendations for government.

Read the report


Read our previous report


Women in self-employment

This exciting report is the much needed first step in bringing women in self-employment to the forefront. It highlights that women are more likely to experience concerns and challenges, especially with regards to financial issues. It also reveals that, like in employment, a shocking gender pay disparity exists in self-employment. Women are also more likely to experience difficulties finding work, feel less supported by government and feel isolated as a result of their self-employment.

Read report


Case studies


Click on the below to see more pioneering women in self-employment:

Jenny Stallard on Wellbeing

Kat on Parental Leave

Sue Ritchie on the Gender Pay Gap



More resources


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Where next?


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