More women than ever before are joining the UK’s growing freelance contracting community – and they tend to be happier in their roles than their male counterparts.

This is according to a recent benchmarking survey conducted by the PCG, and the issue came up for discussion at a fringe meeting during the LibDems party conference last week. The discussion was jointly hosted by the PCG, the REC and the think-tank Demos, and set out to highlight the change toward freelancing and flexible working in the UK labour market over the last ten years.

Simon McVicker, the PCG’s director of policy and public affairs, told the meeting that in 2011 38% of the country’s 1.56 million strong freelance workforce were women, 210,000 of whom (13% of the total) were working mothers; in fact, since 2008 the number of freelancing working mothers has soared by 25%, he noted – twice the growth rate of the general freelance workforce.

Mr McVicker added: “Policymakers across Europe, not just in the UK, need to wake up and recognise the benefits of freelancing and flexible working. Politically, with a general election two years away and following the recent BIS Select Committee report Women in the Workplace, the political and media agenda is highlighting employment issues affecting women on a daily basis. Women in freelancing are a key part of this agenda that cannot be ignored.”

According to the PCG survey, women working as freelancers tended to be happier than men because the greater flexibility enabled them to balance family commitments with work.

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