One question that people ask me (okay, no one has yet, but if they do I’ll direct them here) is “What is it like being a female freelancer, a woman in a male-dominated tech industry?”.
To be honest, from my (limited) personal experience, I don’t think it’s awfully different from being a male freelance web/graphic designer. I don’t feel marginalised, underpaid or intimidated, and I’ve never had any indication that a potential client has decided whether to hire me or not based on my gender. I don’t think I’d win more jobs or get paid more money if I had man-bits. Around half of the clients and people that I work with are female too – intelligent, driven and successful women doing pretty well for themselves in this man’s world.
That said, I do tend to be a bit oblivious to this sort of thing because I was brought up surrounded by tech and never saw any reason why I shouldn’t be as good at things as boys are. I never saw myself as being disadvantaged in any way by being female; if anything, I felt that being good at traditionally male-dominated things just made me more special. I’m also in a country and culture that’s fairly progressive in terms of women’s rights – I wouldn’t have the same opportunities if I wasn’t born into a privileged middle-class life in a Western first-world country, had less encouraging parents, or married a less awesome husband.
I’m interested to hear if anyone has had a different experience – are you like me in never experiencing any real disadvantage to being a woman, freelancing or in a male-dominated industry? Have you ever suspected a client decided whether to work with you or not based more on your gender than your skills or portfolio? If you’re a freelancing mum, how do you balance that with work? Are you ever suckered into doing more chores and errands than is fair because you ‘have more flexibility’ or are ‘always at home anyway’? Any guys out there – what’s your opinion of women starting their own businesses and working in traditionally male-dominated industries?
I have to admit my thoughts on this topic are not particularly well-formed at the moment, but I’d be really really interested in having some discussion around it!