The pivot to freelance is a feminist issue
The behind-the-scenes of an essay I wrote about how women are driving a self-employment boom
For anyone who's been reading this newsletter for a while, it will come as no surprise to hear that I love freelancing.
I do not, however, think freelancing is for everyone. Nor do I think that the solution to work-based problems is quitting your job and striking out on your own.
This is all the more true for women, who, let's face it, have plenty of work-based issues. From the micro of always being cold at work because of sexist air conditioning to the macro of the gender pay gap and the maternity leave penalty.
I crystallised all of these thoughts into a long essay for Refinery29 about how the pivot to freelance is a feminist issue. As much as I love freelancing, and as empowering as I find it, having to leave traditional employment to find fulfilment in work is not an indicator of equality. It just highlights that work as we know it is failing women.
You can read my full magnum opus here. What I wanted to talk about here, though, is the behind-the-scenes of that story.
The origin story of this essay is a statistic. A few months ago, I spotted a piece of research that said women are driving the UK's freelancing boom. My first response to this was, "How brilliant, women are disrupting the status quo, as per."
What caught my eye was that it's specifically highly-skilled women and working mothers who are turning to freelancing that has contributed to the increase in self-employment. This initially made sense to me, as I myself I have never been happier and more fulfilled in my professional life since I went freelance.
But then I started thinking more about it and had another thought – why are ambitious, driven women leaving traditional employment?
That question became the central point on which the whole idea turned. I spent some time thinking more about that question and talking to a few freelance women until I came up with a thesis that I could hang the whole narrative on.
You might have heard the question, "What's the angle?" in relation to pitching and journalism. What that is basically asking is "What's your thesis?"
This piece always had a clear thesis in my mind: That the rise in female freelancers tells us that traditional work is failing them.
And that was how I pitched the whole the idea to an editor. I outlined that thesis and explained how I would execute it through reporting out the story by talking to other female freelancers and experts. When it came to pitching the piece, I got a yes from the first editor I sent the pitch to and I do believe that was because I had a clear idea in my mind what the story really was before I pitched it. That, or they agreed that the rise in freelancing tells a lot about the state of modern work culture.