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Please mind the gap

How working for yourself can help stamp out the gender pay difference

At the end of February 2006, the Women and Work Commission published a report showing a yawning 17% pay gap between male and female workers in the UK.

The report generated quite a reaction with the Prime Minister referring to a "massive amount of work" required to close the gap and Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Duncan making the decisive comment that, should his party return to Government, they will do what they can to "stamp it out".

It is only a shame that the Commission did not look in greater detail at the comparative pay situation for men and women in self-employment as the results would have been startlingly brighter. Women starting their own business are, in the main, doing well for themselves and showing there is serious money to be made in enterprise.

This was confirmed in September 2005 with the announcement that there are now more women millionaires in Britain than men. Many of these female millionaires are generating their wealth through successful business moves. Philip Beresford, author of The Sunday Times Rich List, has said the most significant area of growth for additions to his closely watched list is "women starting their own businesses."

With successful female role models, such as Nicola Horlick of financial advisory company Bramdiva and Chrissie Rucker of The White Company, receiving an increasing share of the headlines, this is encouraging other women to follow the same route.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an annual study of enterprise progress, has reported increases in the number of women starting businesses; with 2004 showing the largest reduction in the gap between male and female enterprise since records began. To add to this, eBay UK has confirmed they are seeing women in their thousands biting the online trading bug and making a decent living from trading in their own homes.

Quote�Life is more fulfilling now that I can work the hours that suit me�End Quote

As well as the financial benefits of starting out in business, this route also offers women the flexibility to blend work and family. As one female visitor to our site recently mused "Life is much more fulfilling now, as a freelance, where I can work the hours that suit me, and watch my toddler grow. I feel very lucky."

Working for yourself means greater control over the hours you work, the people you work with and the amount you earn. It also offers a sensible solution to stamping out that gender pay gap.

What next?

Read about the author of this article, Emma Jones.

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